Ikea Hack: Warm Up LED Accent Lighting Using Photography Gels
Installing new LED accent lighting or replacing your old energy wasting halogen under-cabinet lighting with new LED accent lights? Notice that even the “warm white” LED lights are just a touch too white or a touch too harsh compared to the warm glow of the halogen lights you’re used to seeing?
Click the link for a simple way to warm up the look of LED accent lighting for less than $10 in less than two minutes by using photography gels.
This Ikea hack is not just for Ikea LED accent lighting – the same method can be used for any brand of LED accent lighting. However, don’t try this with other types of under-cabinet lighting. Halogen and even fluorescent bulbs get very hot. The LED accent lighting pucks that I have stay relatively cool – but its up to you to determine if its safe to put a sheet of plastic inside your LED accent lighting.
In case you’re not a photographer, photography gels are thin sheets of colored plastic film that photographers use to color a light source. You can get 20″x24″ sheets of gels for less than $7 each – click here.
Different light sources such as daylight, tungsten / halogen bulbs and fluorescent bulbs have very different colors to a camera – but to a human eye, they look pretty much the same…except for when they don’t.
(If you are a photographer – please excuse the Photography 101).
In the case of lighting in your home – most people are used to seeing tungsten / halogen light (ie. “warm white”). If you replace an old tungsten / halogen or “warm white” LED bulb with a daylight balanced LED bulb (ie. “cool white”), the “cool white” light often looks much too harsh compared to what you’re used to seeing.
I found this even with “warm” white LED accent lighting – so I used photography gels to correct the color – by slightly warming up the light even more.
Here is what the LED accent lighting in my Ikea Besta TV storage unit looks like with a 1/4 CTO Gel. (By the way, CTO stands for Color Temperature Orange and is used to match daylight to tungsten light. “Full”, “1/2” and “1/4” refers to the strength of the color).
And here is the LED accent lighting in my Ikea Besta TV storage unit with a 1/2 CTO Gel.
Its up to you to decide what looks best to your eyes – but to me, especially when the lights are dimmed a 1/2 CTO Gel on top of the “warm white” LED accent lights looks the best – although 1/4 CTO Gel looks better too and isn’t quite as noticeably orange.
To install the gels onto your accent lighting, just cut little circles out of the gel sheet and fit them into your LED accent lights. The LED under cabinet puck lights that I have have a glass cover that just pops out – so I simply put the gel circle in and reinstalled the cover.
Here is the glass cover from the light.
And here it is with the gel circle in place.
And here is how the finished Ikea hack looks with a a 1/2 CTO Gel installed to warm up all of the LED accent lights.
Oh, and by the way – it is very difficult to show what the color of white light actually looks like on a screen. On screen, I prefer the color of pure white light – by far – as seen in the lead photograph with the naked “warm white” LED lighting and the camera’s white balanced set to match.
However, in person, to my eye the warmer LED lighting just looks more appealing.
But just to show you how deceiving the color of white light can be – here is a photo of my Ikea Besta TV storage unit with the original “warm white” LED accent lighting – except the camera’s white balance is set for the white screen on the TV (about 7500K) instead of the “warm white” LED lights (about 3500K).
This is what a swing of 4000K looks like in camera – and its hardly noticeable in person.
“Cool White” or “Warm White” – What Looks Better?
Have you upgraded to cool efficient LED lighting – or are you sticking with your old fashioned, energy sucking, heat radiating tungsten / halogen light bulbs?
What do you prefer “cool white” (daylight balanced) or “warm white” (tungsten / halogen balanced) LED lights?
Leave a comment below and let us know!
JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.