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Thread: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

  1. #1
    Enlightened Biggoggs's Avatar
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    Thinking Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Most supermarkets here in Australia stock both warm-white and cool-white models of household fluorescent or LED bulbs, and people empirically seem to prefer warm-white in their homes. This doesn't seem to be the case with flashlights though, where even buying a 'neutral tint' or high-CRI flashlight on the internet seems to be a minority option- I don't know any major flashlight manufacturer that sells an LED flashlight in warm-white.

    Lately I've been looking into the psychology of temperature colour, and I've found research linking blue light to melatonin suppression:

    "How light affects our sleep"
    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-l...cts-our-sleep/
    "Blue light has a dark side"
    http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsle...as-a-dark-side
    "How artificial light is wrecking your sleep, and what to do about it"
    http://chriskresser.com/how-artifici...to-do-about-it
    "Drowning in light" (overuse of light in general)
    http://nautil.us/issue/11/light/drowning-in-light

    All Cree emitters seem to come in warm white and typically have higher CRI (albeit lower output), so why aren't more manufacturers releasing warm lights? I'd happily trade 20-30% lumen output for a more yellow light, and I can't be the only one.

    The way I see it, humankind has been using yellowish light from fire, candles, lanterns and incandencent lights for thousands of years, cool-blue has only appeared in the past decade with LEDs.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Supply and demand is the reason most manufacturers stay away from non-cool white tints. Why the demand isn't there puxzles me.


    Quote Originally Posted by Biggoggs View Post

    I'd happily trade 20-30% lumen output for a more yellow light, and I can't be the only one.
    .
    I think this statement answers a lot of your question. Most people want quantity over quality.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    My opinion

    A "light bulb" in the house is on for an extended period of time - you are okay with it - or you don't like it, next time you buy what you prefer.

    A flashlight is purchased by which one says it's brighter. It's not generally necessarily used where a indirect or direct comparison can be made. So manufacturers make the brighter ones....

    There is one engineer at work who I sold a light to - he said right up front that he hated the "harsh" (cool) white. So he knew what he liked, most people don't or haven't formed an opinion.


  4. #4

    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Lumens sell
    I don't have a flashlight problem, they all work.

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    Flashaholic* Phaserburn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    I think warm tint has historically been paired with a waning Incan/alkaline output. Cool white and regulated was seen as a game changer.
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    Flashaholic Danielsan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    because a light bulb in your house is a different case, ppl prefer warm white bulbs because its more relaxing, it resembles a campfire in a cave. Thats why its good for your home. A flashlight is a tool for work and its not made for relaxing, so the brightest LED is the best for most ppl and i would also say non flashlight ppl like the blue tint because it looks "modern".

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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggoggs View Post
    I'd happily trade 20-30% lumen output for a more yellow light, and I can't be the only one.
    Certainly not, but you are in the minority. I really dislike warm tints...when I shine a light on a white surface, it looks yellow, and to me this is all the reason I need to avoid them. It seems to me that neutral is most preferred among the CPF crowd, followed by cool, followed by warm. In the general public, or those who buy based on the lumen claims alone (the majority, most likely) cool white is the dominant choice. So the reason for the lack of warm white offerings is quite clear...they don't sell very well.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    I think the general public buys whatever is available, which is predominantly cool white.
    The shadows are darkest during the day.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Lumen numbers sell.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Warm white isn't conducive to good task lighting. I also don't like reading off of yellow sheets of paper.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    The tint I like depends on the task at hand. I have built four Convoy S2 lights, each with a different tint. I have an XM-L2 T6 3C emitter in my preferred camping light. The foliage really pops with that light, and the XM-L2 gives a really good beam profile in my usual camping environments. When on my bicycle, my preferred light has an XP-G2 R5 1A emitter. The 1A tint works nicely when out on the road, and the XP-G2 throws out a bit farther while still having good spill light. The light in my backpack has an XP-G2 S2 2B, which puts out a nice neutral tint. If I want vivid color rendition, I use my light with the XP-G2 R4 5A1 emitter. The lower brightness is hardly noticeable unless used side-by-side with one of the other lights.
    Last edited by Scooby214; 10-19-2014 at 06:32 PM.

  12. #12
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Flashlights and light bulbs solve entirely different problems, thus entirely different sets of solutions are made available for both problems.

    Light bulbs are typically used under more controlled circumstances for hours on end. In residential settings, the market by and large prefers warm tints due to a combination factors such as personal preference, market inertia (the incandescent was the only option in most fixtures for almost a century) and other factors. Users can readily pick and choose between what best pleases them within their residences and have plenty of room for scrutiny since the setting is predictable and the light will often burn for hours a day. Incandescent-like 2700K rules the day in American markets as witnessed by the selection in hardware store lighting departments, although that dominant preference may be slipping with the almost-as-wide availability of comparable 5000K offerings and some 3000K products slipping in.

    Flashlights are typically used in less-controlled circumstances for short periods. They solve the more immediate problem of no light whatsoever, which is usually a much larger and more immediate problem than the quality of light they produce. The market eagerly adopted LED flashlights in spite of their generally cooler tint and decidedly different and typically inferior color rendering because they address no light whatsoever readily and because of the superb runtimes alongside the long lifespan of the LED (yes, they can and do fail, but typically not every 10 hours or so like many flashlight bulbs). There is a niche for warm and/or high-CRI LED flashlights, but it's a small on-again-off-again affair due to the larger market's indifference. Combine that with the modest but real bump in lumens that cool white offers with LED (offering the option of more lumens, more runtime, or let the user choose with multiple modes) and the preference is pretty much sealed.
    Last edited by idleprocess; 10-19-2014 at 07:04 PM.
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    I simply don't like the yellow tint. My favorite tint (of my lights at least) is from the XRE in my 2010-vintage Jetbeam III-M, followed by the Philips Luxeon T and Nichia 219. But I'd take the cool white version of the XM-L2 over the warm. YMMV.

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* martinaee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Just give me a high cri neutral tint bordering on cool white and I'll be happy... Maybe 4750k with 99cri

    Sheesh, I'm starting to think people aren't only thinking of me!

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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    I wouldn't say that people don't care about neutral/warm emitters in flashlights. Just go to Illumination Supply and have a look at the Zebralights. You will see that it is the neutral versions that are selling out while the cool versions stay in stock ALOT longer. THAT tells you something.

  16. #16
    Enlightened Biggoggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Danielsan View Post
    A flashlight is a tool for work and its not made for relaxing, so the brightest LED is the best for most ppl and i would also say non flashlight ppl like the blue tint because it looks "modern".
    That's true- my first 'real' LED flashlight was an Arc-AAA, and back then I thought blue-white was modern. Cool-white meant modern LEDs and HIDs that were brighter and lasted longer on smaller batteries. But if we're surrounded by harsh cool-white office fluorescents and LEDs all day, I would think the pendulum would swing back the other way eventually.

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    Flashlights and light bulbs solve entirely different problems, thus entirely different sets of solutions are made available for both problems.
    Light bulbs are typically used under more controlled circumstances for hours on end. [...]
    Flashlights are typically used in less-controlled circumstances for short periods. [...]
    You raise some good points, two things I'd like to add:
    Firstly, a few people have said that most people are indifferent and buy what's available, but regular people are forced to learn the difference between 'cool white' and 'warm white' when they purchase fluorescent or LED globes in supermarkets because they didn't have a choice before.
    Secondly, if the majority of household LED globes are warm-white, wouldn't this create a market incentive to increase efficiency or at least acceptance of warm-white emitters? I think warm-white is here to stay, and not simply because they're 'like old globes'.

    Quote Originally Posted by thedoc007 View Post
    Certainly not, but you are in the minority. I really dislike warm tints...when I shine a light on a white surface, it looks yellow, and to me this is all the reason I need to avoid them. It seems to me that neutral is most preferred among the CPF crowd, followed by cool, followed by warm. In the general public, or those who buy based on the lumen claims alone (the majority, most likely) cool white is the dominant choice. So the reason for the lack of warm white offerings is quite clear...they don't sell very well.
    Quote Originally Posted by Charles L. View Post
    I simply don't like the yellow tint. My favorite tint (of my lights at least) is from the XRE in my 2010-vintage Jetbeam III-M, followed by the Philips Luxeon T and Nichia 219. But I'd take the cool white version of the XM-L2 over the warm. YMMV.
    Quote Originally Posted by 18650 View Post
    Warm white isn't conducive to good task lighting. I also don't like reading off of yellow sheets of paper.
    I'm surprised to see so many people here that avoid yellow tints, guess my preference is in the minority. I've worked night shifts for almost a decade and find yellow far less tiring, more comfortable, and never had issues with colour rendition.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* oKtosiTe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggoggs View Post
    That's true- my first 'real' LED flashlight was an Arc-AAA, and back then I thought blue-white was modern. Cool-white meant modern LEDs and HIDs that were brighter and lasted longer on smaller batteries. But if we're surrounded by harsh cool-white office fluorescents and LEDs all day, I would think the pendulum would swing back the other way eventually.

    You raise some good points, two things I'd like to add:
    Firstly, a few people have said that most people are indifferent and buy what's available, but regular people are forced to learn the difference between 'cool white' and 'warm white' when they purchase fluorescent or LED globes in supermarkets because they didn't have a choice before.
    Secondly, if the majority of household LED globes are warm-white, wouldn't this create a market incentive to increase efficiency or at least acceptance of warm-white emitters? I think warm-white is here to stay, and not simply because they're 'like old globes'.

    I'm surprised to see so many people here that avoid yellow tints, guess my preference is in the minority. I've worked night shifts for almost a decade and find yellow far less tiring, more comfortable, and never had issues with colour rendition.
    Heh, add me to the list. I'm all about neutral white for my flashlights and my (fully LED) indoor lighting. Warm white makes it impossible for me to distinguish colors: everything just looks orange-yellow to me. Cool white looks ghostly and somewhat disturbing (but it does allow me to tell more colors apart). So neutral white seems like the best way to go for me.
    With that said, I'm more likely to accept a cool-white flashlight and a warm-white room light than the other way around. The flashlight is for utility, the room light is for comfort.
    Last edited by oKtosiTe; 10-20-2014 at 02:17 AM.

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    A lot of good points already made.

    My personal perspective is based on observations coupled with output measurements I have taken. The simple result of which is that even when the measured lumen output of two lights (one with Cool white, and one with Warm) measures the same, to the eye, the Cool White 'looks' brighter. Yes, the colour rendition is not as good, with colours looking washed out, but the view appears brighter.

    This means that if you also factor in the frequently lower output of warm white LEDs with an perceived lower output even when the OTF lumens are the same, and you get a double whammy.

    For the general consumer market, why would you be the maker of dim yellow lights when you can sell the brightest white light.

    CRI is relatively specialist. Very few people need high CRI, and those that do are prepared to take the hit in output. They are the vast minority.


    Lighting in the home is entirely different. Mood lighting needs a softer look, so warm light wins. Compare clinical Cool White light and soft Warm tints, and it is just far more relaxing to have warm white. Task lights are different, with 'daylight' bulbs being the order of the day. This is light specifically for illuminating work pieces clearly (whatever the craft or task), and is not for winding down to. We have had the choice of warm vs cool light for decades as the fluorescent tube has always had much cooler light than a filament bulb. I always liked the florescent light for working to, and the filament bulb light at home, and I did have a choice.


    It seems to me that the market of 'un-enlightened' users (those people not on CPF) have got it right simply by 'feel'. Flashlights are task lights, so brighter and whiter wins, light bulbs are for lighting your house and warm feels softer and more relaxing. Whatever logic you might wish to apply, we are animals, not machines, so we go by feel.
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  19. #19

    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    I have one flashlight that uses a 3000K warm white emitter. It's nice for use outdoors. Vegetation looks pretty with it.

    For indoor use it makes everything look orange. Sure it's high CRI... but the orange tint still makes it very hard to determine colors.

    My preferred color temperature is 4200-4500k. Warm enough to make things look pretty, but white enough to to not make everything look orange. If that temperature isn't available I'll also go with 5000k, even though it's a little cool for outdoor use.
    Last edited by Fireclaw18; 10-20-2014 at 10:52 PM.

  20. #20
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggoggs View Post
    You raise some good points, two things I'd like to add:
    Firstly, a few people have said that most people are indifferent and buy what's available, but regular people are forced to learn the difference between 'cool white' and 'warm white' when they purchase fluorescent or LED globes in supermarkets because they didn't have a choice before.
    I don't know about your locale, but every display of CFL and LED light bulbs I've seen in the US has warm white 2700K bulbs positioned quite prominently so as to be the default choice. Eye level, on the right, and in greatest quantities will be 2700K with all other shades being less convenient, less likely to be picked without conscious thought. Add to that big-box hardware stores often have displays showing how the various colors render a reference scene.

    And hey - more choice is a good thing, no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggoggs View Post
    Secondly, if the majority of household LED globes are warm-white, wouldn't this create a market incentive to increase efficiency or at least acceptance of warm-white emitters? I think warm-white is here to stay, and not simply because they're 'like old globes'.
    For standard white LED's (blue die pumping yellow phosphor), most advancements that make cool white more efficient will make warm white more efficient; the rub is the inherently lower efficiency of warm white when it essentially achieves a lower color temperature by down-converting more blue light into longer frequencies. With some of the newer concepts being tested - such as Philips new take on discrete RGB (with green produced via a blue die pumping a green-producing phosphor), the underlying efficiencies may change - but most of those are in the lab or are extremely narrow slices of the market.

    I too believe that warm white has staying power, but suspect that it's not quite the universal intrinsic preference its proponents would have us believe. The near complete lack of choice until recently I mentioned earlier, association of higher color temperatures with workplaces, and association with relaxation play a role in its staying power. But as younger generations grow up with mew options and think differently about life than their forebears, I wouldn't bet on it remaining quite so dominant. I personally just want more choices than dominant 2700K (too yellow), widely-available 5000K (good for work areas, not so great for living areas), uncommon 3000K (a step in the right direction from 2700K, but still a tad too warm), and vanishingly-rare 4000K (a bit too cool, but better than 5000K). I think there's potential in the space between 3000 and 3500, but don't claim to know how big of a market that space represents.

    I make no judgement of the US market's general preference for 2700K; I'm simply disappointed that the offerings drop off appreciably from there.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  21. #21

    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggoggs View Post
    Firstly, a few people have said that most people are indifferent and buy what's available, but regular people are forced to learn the difference between 'cool white' and 'warm white' when they purchase fluorescent or LED globes in supermarkets because they didn't have a choice before.
    Ikea only have warm white globes now. In the supermarkets, I'm seeing that shelves have more empty spaces amongst the warm whites than the cool and the row ratio was in favour of the cool. Now it seems to be the other way around. Still get those 10 packs of CFL's that are cool though.

    I know some people who think that bathrooms should have a cool light and bedrooms a warm light.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Cool white is too blue, trashes depth perception, washes out colors, and takes more effort to recognize what is being looked at.

  23. #23
    Flashaholic* oKtosiTe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Floppy View Post
    I know some people who think that bathrooms should have a cool light and bedrooms a warm light.
    Not a comfortable midnight pee. :P

  24. #24

    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    But you'll be more alert so you don't go over the rim.

  25. #25
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Newguy2012 View Post
    But you'll be more alert so you don't go over the rim.
    Or so relaxed you sit down....
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  26. #26
    Flashaholic* oKtosiTe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    Or so relaxed you sit down....
    Boom! Eh, sorry for dragging this slightly off-topic.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    Xeno has plenty of warm-white offerings.
    Warm-white is about the only thing I'd use when there is snow on the ground.
    6.5K diving light, 5K cool-white, 4K neutral-white, 3K warm-white, 2.7K extra warm-white

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    I noticed that Lumens Factory now only offers neutral white and 90 CRI as options on their LED drop ins. They use the Cree XP-G leds. I just got one in the 90 CRI, and it really isn't all that yellow, just a slight off-white. It does a better job of color resolution than my TerraLux Lightstar 80, which I think is about an 80-85 CRI light. I haven't taken it outside yet (just got it today) so I can't say how it does in that environment, but I expect it will to well. Based on my experiences so far, I think I will try to limit to 90 CRI whenever possible in the future.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    The general consumer doesn't care about tint, it doesn't even enter their thought process. I work with people who use cheap cool blue/white headlamps and AA mini mag icans. They've seen my lights and the only comment I've ever gotten, if I get any, is Oh thats bright. A flashlight is just a light thats all. I personally use neutral or slightly warm lights for work because it makes the colors of the wires stand out better, and the cool light starts to make my eyes sting after a while.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Why isn't warm white more popular with LED flashlights?

    I cannot stand the cool whites, hurts my eyes when I am using them at work. Definitely happy to have Neutral or Warm HCRI options available in LED flashlights.

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