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What are Tunable White and CCT LEDs?

Finding the right lighting can be a grueling concern. Advances in lighting technology have meant that the lighting market has come a long way. Lamps can now do more than just ensure that rooms are well lit. For example, it is possible to use a lighting system to have a positive influence on people. Two of these technologies are called "Tunable White" and "CCT". We will show you what they are all about in this blog. 

Daylight cycle (AdobeStock/Tartila)

 The most important facts at a glance:   

  • What is Tunable White?
  • What is CCT anyway?
  • What influences does Tunable White have? 
  • The Circadian Rhythm - How Light Influences the Human Internal Clock 
  • Color Temperature Range of Tunable White & CCT Lamps   
  • Applications for Tunable White   

What is Tunable White?

Tunable White is a lighting system with variable light color. This is either adjusted automatically or manually as desired. In detail, it is about the color temperature of the white tone that the light reproduces. This can be easily adjusted via app or remote control. You can choose from a color spectrum of 2,700 Kelvin (extra warm white) to 6,500 Kelvin (cool white). This gives you the opportunity to adjust the color temperature exactly to your wishes and decide independently which shade of white you need at any given moment. For example 2,756 Kelvin or 4,708 Kelvin.  

The aim of this system is to follow the natural sleep-wake rhythm of the human body. Also known as the "internal clock" of the human organism, which is also referred to as the "circadian rhythm. This can positively affect health, alertness, productivity and concentration. The light imitates the natural daylight cycle. In the morning, a warm white light is reproduced, suggesting the sunrise. As the day progresses, the white changes and acquires an ever-increasing blue component. As a result, the light appears much cooler and thus resembles daylight. This system is often used in healthcare and offices in particular. 

What is CCT anyway?  

To give you a better understanding of what adjustable white tones are all about, the following explains what CCT means. The abbreviation CCT  stands for "Controlled Color Temperature". CCT and Tunable White are often thrown together. Especially in our online store it can happen that these two terms meet. At this point we differentiate between Tunable White and Controlled Color Temperature.

Controlled Color Temperature also has the possibility to adjust the white tones of the lamp. But this is only possible manually and not via app or remote control. CCT lamps can change their white tones via a small switch, but this must be operated again for each color temperature change. With the help of the switch you can decide between specified white tones. For example, this can be 3,000 K, 4,000 K and 6,000 K. In comparison: Tunable White illuminants can be adjusted to your wishes and can take on an individual value.

In contrast, Tunable White can either be used as a fully set-up lighting system that automatically follows the natural daylight cycle, or it can be operated manually via app and remote control. The manual control option means that situations and needs can be addressed quickly. So the big difference here is the remote control. 

Tunable White light sources are controllable via app. (AdobeStock/rh2010)

Symbol Lampe

Note: The abbreviation CCT stands not only for "Controlled Color Temperature", but also for "Correlated Color Temperature". This refers to the correlation between Kelvin and the color temperature of the illuminant. In general, a Kelvin value is assigned to lamps to provide information about the color of the light. For this information, a measurement is made in which a black object made of metal is heated until it glows. The temperature, given in Kelvin, can now provide information about the equivalent value a lamp must have in order to shine in the same way as the heated object. Hence the name "color temperature". 

What influences does Tunable White have?  

Thanks to the adjustable color temperatures from cool to warm white, the light can be individually adapted to needs and situations. Studies have shown that warm white light calms people down. A cool white light, on the other hand, is said to increase the ability to concentrate. Tunable White therefore supports the concept of Human Centric Lighting (HCL). This concept places people at the center of lighting design. Among other things, Tunable White is also called "circadian lighting". This is because light has an influence on the human inner clock. The feeling of a rising and setting sun is conveyed. 

Our product recommendation with Tunable White function 

Calex Smart Candle LED Bulb E14

Calex Smart Standard LED Bulb E27 A60 Filament

Noxion LED Tracklight 3-Phase Trixie

Ledvance LED Ceiling Orbis Sparkle

The Circadian Rhythm - How Light Influences the Human Internal Clock  

Essentially, the circadian rhythm is about the human internal clock. One example is the sleep-wake cycle. This rhythm can be influenced by light, among other things. By nature, our body knows when to sleep and eat. The wrong lighting makes the body feel disturbed. This in turn can cause health problems, such as obesity, sleep disorders or cardiovascular problems. The reason for this is the color temperature of the light. Scientists have found that a light color of 5,500 Kelvin can prevent the body from sleeping, even though sleep is needed at the moment. To prevent such problems from occurring, care should be taken to provide the right lighting. This is possible by using Tunable White. In the evening, the light is changed to a warm white tone to allow the body to rest, thus releasing melatonin. This is helpful in falling asleep. 

Symbol Lampe

Tip: If you are interested in accent lighting, you can also easily achieve this with Tunable White lamps. In our opinion, LED strips are best suited for this. 

Color Temperature Range of Tunable White & CCT Lamps   

Tunable White luminaires have a wide color temperature spectrum. Thus, luminaires can be adjusted in a color range from 2,700 K to 6,500 K. This happens either automatically or manually via app and remote control. With the help of lighting experts, a Tunable White system can be set up to automatically adapt to the course of daylight. This progression, in turn, supports the circadian rhythm, hence the Tunable White's expanding name. CCT LEDs have a color range of 3,000 K up to 7,000 K available. 

With Tunable White, the light adapts to the situation. (AdobeStock/Pixel-Shot)

Applications for Tunable White    

Tunable White is often used in the healthcare sector. This is because the technology is dedicated to HCL (Human Centric Lighting) at its core. By suggesting a daily light cycle, patients rest better at night. However, the application of a circadian rhythm is not only useful there. Tunable White can also be easily integrated into office environments. This promotes a relaxing feeling in the morning and, during the day, a concentration-promoting atmosphere due to the high blue content of the emitted light. 

Tunable White can be used to create a beautiful ambience. (AdobeStock/krsmanovic)

While healthcare and office environments are the most prevalent areas of application for Tunable White, it can also find use in other areas. For example, the lighting system can be placed in restaurants and hotels, among other places. Due to the possibility of adjusting the color temperature of the light, Tunable White can be used in a restaurant or hotel to create a relaxing and restful atmosphere for the guests. The system can also be used for conference rooms within a hotel. Thus, the light can be adjusted to cool white to increase the ability to concentrate. Of course, a warm white can also be applied in the break rooms to provide a relaxing atmosphere for the employees.