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Cool White vs. Neutral White

Discussion in 'Flashlights & Other Illumination Devices' started by purplelady, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. purplelady

    purplelady Loaded Pockets

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    What is the difference between these two and which is the best and brightest?
     
  2. 0dBm

    0dBm Loaded Pockets

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    These terms as they refer to the LEDs are representative of the color temperature range of the light product output of these solid state devices as expressed in Kelvin (K). Cool white typically gravitates to the blue end of the color spectrum; typically ~5000-7000K. Neutral white ranges from ~3000-5000K.

    "Best" is strictly personal preference. A cool white LED typically outputs more light per watt so they can be "brighter." Total light output is measured in lumens whereas peak brightness is expressed in candela. Peak brightest can be increased with reflector design and size but the total light output will remain relatively the same.

    I'll stop here cuz my fingers will hurt from typing more.

    Here is some decent reading. Don't get caught-up in the terminology.:)
     
  3. nice65

    nice65 Loaded Pockets

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    The cool whites, for me, are better for thrower type lights. My close up floodies, Zebralight mainly, are great for colour rendition. The neutrals are really very good, but there is a loss in lumen output. Don't let that put you off, most modern LEDs are very capable. The Nichia 219 ones are superb.
     
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  4. david57strat

    david57strat EDC Junkie!!!

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    Shopping for a good flashlight is almost like shopping for a car.

    If you ask, "What is the most economical car, that'll fit all of my equipment and passengers, that will also go from 0-60 mph in less than four seconds", you'll find that you have to choose which features are the most important. There's always a trade-off involved. The car with all the horsepower isn't going to be economical, at all.

    It's actually somewhat easier, with flashlights. They're not nearly as expensive, and you have hundreds of choices, from which to choose; but you have to have an idea of what your main lighting needs are, for that light, to make the right choice.

    Cool white light is more dazzling, more impressive, but has its share of downfalls. Colors aren't as accurate. Things can appear to look washed out. In heavily foggy, or smoky environments, cool white won't cut through, as well.

    Neutral and warm white light may have a little bit less of a "wow" factor, but depth perception, and details are easier to spot, and look more realistic, to the human eye (more like the sun; but bear in mind, there are many different tints from which to choose, and which tint works best for your needs, is a highly personal choice.

    If you find yourself having to light up something (in heavy smoke, fog, etc.), the cool white light can actually reflect a lot of that bright white light right back at you, and hamper your ability to see properly, whereas the neutral and warm white lights can easily get through that, and make it easier for you to see.

    What's the primary purpose of the light? Are you going to be working super close up, in a tight space, or wanting to spot objects from hundreds of yards away? The more you know about what your lighting needs are, the better choice you'll be able to make in selecting a flashlight for that need.

    There's no set rule, for which (cool, neutral, or warm) light is "the best". The best light is the one that suits your needs the best, at that given moment.
     
    Last edited by david57strat, Nov 11, 2016
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  5. Mumbojumboo
    • GITD Manix 2XL Owner

    Mumbojumboo EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Man, I love this place.

    We were camping once and could tell my sons apart by, cool, warm, and hi cri, in complete darkness.
     
    Last edited by Mumbojumboo, Nov 11, 2016
  6. dmattaponi

    dmattaponi Loaded Pockets

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    Over the last year I have switched all of my current user flashlights over to AA and AAA battery types. All of these are Thrunite brand which offers their lights in both cool white and neutral white. Because of Thrunites affordability I've been able to buy most of these lights (Tn4a, T10, 1Av2 & v3, and Ti3) in both the cool white and neutral white versions to compare and see which I liked better. Having done that I highly recommend the neutral white if you want things to appear more natural. The cool white lights make things look very stark whereas the neutral white allows you to see the natural color and look of things much better. As far as one appearing brighter to the eye than the other, I haven't really noticed a difference between the same model light when comparing CW to NW.
     
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  7. 0dBm

    0dBm Loaded Pockets

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    As I understand it, the substrates added to the LED mixture of the so-called neutral tints to make it function towards the warmer end of the color temperature range ALSO decreases the light product output.

    I prefer the cooler tints for the sheer output, but will use the warmer & high-CRI models for color rendition. Yes, there is a difference in output levels. Ceteris paribus, calibrated measuring devices confirm that phenomenon.
     
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  8. dmattaponi

    dmattaponi Loaded Pockets

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    I appreciate the comment, but for me...as long as that "calibrated measuring" difference isn't noticeable (or significant) to my naked eye in everyday use...I continue to choose and use neutral, and recommend it to anyone who like me, might prefer a more natural looking, aesthetically pleasing, easy on the eyes light source. For the newbies, probably the easiest why to describe the neutral tints is to think of them as more like the color of the incandescent flashlights most of us grew up with.
     
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  9. 0dBm

    0dBm Loaded Pockets

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    This apparently is the trend. In the early days of the LED, the much-lauded "whiteness" of the output was highly desirable; evoking such rhetoric about how pristine it is compared to the yellowish tint of the incandescent light bulb. Later, when the narrow spectrum of the LED's output "washed-out" several colors that the full-spectrum traditional light bulb did not is when we realized one significant pitfall of this solid state device.

    Now, we have something called CRI to help define it and to set a standard so that makers of LEDs can further refine their product. The problem is that the reference to establish a CRI varies.

    When you stated, "...I haven't really noticed a difference between the same model light when comparing CW to NW," it is likely that the flashlight products you have to compare have LEDs that have not used consistent CRI references AND likely have color temperature values that are much closer to one another because the LEDs have NOT been tested with "calibrated measuring" instruments. That is why you don't see much difference.

    That's OK. If you're satisfied with what you have, that's mostly what matters.
     
    Last edited by 0dBm, Nov 12, 2016
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  10. dmattaponi

    dmattaponi Loaded Pockets

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    OdBm,

    That makes a lot of sense. I do appreciate the info.
     
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  11. purplelady

    purplelady Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks for all the input. It has been very helpful.
     
  12. earthman

    earthman EDC Junkie!!!

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    I must sway towards cool white because most of my lights are just that. Lol