If you combine LED lighting products from different suppliers, you may notice slight differences in LED colour tints and shading across your installation. Why is this, and how can InStyle help you avoid this issue?
How do LEDs create colour?
If you’ve never really thought about LEDs, it’s natural to assume they’re made in a similar way to traditional lightbulbs and lamps. Well, they’re not.
LEDs get their light and colour from a thin semiconductor wafer. This is manufactured using a variety of chemical mixes and processes, each slightly different, and it’s this range of semiconductor recipes that makes your LEDs glow in all their different colours when electricity runs through them.
LED colour batching
Despite the precision of the LED manufacturing process, no two batches of LEDs are ever exactly the same. There are always small differences in the recipe and chemical ingredients, which can create different colour tints and shadings that may be visible to the human eye. Because of this, it’s impossible to recreate an exact colour at a later date.
This sounds like it could be a problem to anyone installing large LED lighting projects. But it’s not. This is because the LED industry produces LEDs in very large batches, and each batch has its own unique code-number. A single batch will typically be available for several years.
Choose the right supplier
The LED market is growing all the time. Manufacturers are all different, and some are more aware than others about colour batching issues.
A good LED supplier with lots of experience will buy in large stocks of each LED batch for use in the products they supply, and will maintain good contact with their source manufacturer to make sure these LEDs remain available for future use.
For example: an experienced supplier might order an LED batch with a code AAA and then make 100 reels of LED tape using this code. However, they will have also purchased more LEDs from the same AAA batch to store for later use – another 10,000 matching LEDS would enable them to make up a further 1000 reels at a later date, all with perfectly consistent colouring.
More than this, when a batch has become unavailable, a good LED supplier will be able to find a batch of LEDs that will look very similar to the original batch. Though not precisely identical, this will usually be quite close enough, and can be used to maintain a project for more several years.
Buying from less experienced companies – or from those who do not manufacture their own LEDs or stay in contact with their manufacturers – can lead to problems with LED colour consistency.
These inferior suppliers tend to order standard reels with no regard for colour batching. This means the next time they restock with cool white LED lights (for example), they’ll receive LEDs from an entirely different cool white batch – and any of their customers who use them on a project alongside the previous batch will find they look like two very different light colours!
Some very poor companies even use different LED batches side-by-side within a reel!
White LED batches
Good LED suppliers know that all white lights are not the same.
White light comes in a variety of shades, measured on the Kelvin colour-temperature scale. Cool white light, for example, could be anywhere from 5000K through 5500K or 6000K, all the way to 6500K. All four of these shades would be accurately called ‘cool white’ – but they would all look slightly different beside each other.
Choose a good LED supplier, and you can be sure that when matching an old colour batch, they will take into account not just the colour description but the Kelvin value as well.
RGB LED batches
The most visible LED colour batch issues can be seen when colour-changing RGB LED tapes are mixed to white.
If one LED batch has a slightly stronger red and one a slightly strong blue, then the white light output will be at two ends of the scale!
Can I match different LED wattages from the same LED batch?
Usually the answer is ‘no. Using a 3528 SMD and 5050 SMD side-by-side, for example, will typically produce two different colour shades because they are two different LEDS.
InStyle are different. We supply a wide range of LED strip light wattages that use LEDs with identical batch codes, but with the diodes spaced closer together or further apart to produce different levels of brightness.
Because we use the same LED batches on all of our LED tapes, you can install strips with different brightness (wattage) side-by-side within a room or project, to give you highights, high-power feature lighting and working lights all with perfectly consistent colour. This offers great flexibility to the commercial lighting industry (locations such as hotels, clubs and office lobbies) and for home installations.