What Is Tunable LED White Lighting?

Tunable White LED Lighting differs from traditional single color temperature white lighting by allowing users to adjust the color of the white light, or to be exact, the color temperature of the white light.

Tunable white lighting has the ability to control the color temperature output of its LED light source. This ability to adjust the color temperature of white light reminds us of the CCT related color temperature and dim to warm LED lights.

Since we can change the color temperature of white LED lights, we can always customize/personalize white tunable lighting to suit our environment or mood. This gives us numerous benefits, such as following the body’s circadian rhythm, matching our seasonally changing room decor, creating a warm or calm/clean atmosphere, and more.

Tunable LED white lighting is realized through compatible tunable white led controllers using common PWM wiring or through proprietary protocols such as 0-10V, DALI, DMX, or wireless communication via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ZigBee. More details on tunable white lighting follow.

CCT Tunable White Light VS. Visible Light
CCT color temperature is the specific color performance to white light

What Does Tunable White Mean in LED Lighting?

If a led lamp is tunable white, it means that you can adjust its light color (white color temperature). Tunable white led fixtures usually contain two white light outputs, one warm white and one cool white, and by adjusting the output values of these two white light outputs, you can demonstrate the light range from warm to cool.

Tunable White LED TypePros & Cons
Separate Warm White LED + Separate Cool White LED As One Tunable White LED UnitSingle white brightness is guaranteed, but sometimes high density tunable white LED requires wider PCB boards to realize.
2-in-1 Tunable White LEDWarm white and cool white in the same SMD LED; Denser led quantity, but single white brightness may lost.
LED Composition for Tunable White Lighting

We have a special tunable white adjustable led strip lights with three white light outputs, the warmest going to 1800K-2000K candela/golden/amber light and the coolest going to 6000K-6500K bright daylight. The multiple white light channels are designed to allow for a wider spectral range of led tunable color temperatures.

You can adjust the color temperature of a tunable white led light fixture up to about 6000K-6500K and some around neutral daylight 5000K-5500K. Because daylight in this color temperature range produces almost no blue light. This is necessary for any home and commercial human-centered lighting.

Does tunable mean dimmable?

Tunable refers to the ability to adjust light color, while dimmable refers to the ability to adjust light brightness. These are two different things. However, since all LEDs are dimmable, tunable white LED lights allow both color and brightness adjustment. On that basis, tunable and dimmable coexist.

White Color Tuning Versus

Tunable white is only one type of white color tuning, there are two others, full color tunable and dim to warm. 

Full color tunable led lights allow you to adjust a wider range of colors, such as the familiar RGBW and RGBCCT. Its color selection is not limited to variable white light, but colorful light and white light coexist adjustable.

Dim to warm is somewhat similar to tunable white, the difference is that the range of white color temperatures is not quite the same. Dim-to-warm typically has a color temperature tunable led range of 1800K to 3000K, from amber with reddish-orange tones to warm yellow white. More about dim to warm led lighting in the section below.

Difference Between Tunable White And CCT

We generally compare tunable white to CCT (Correlated Color Temperature) as it relates to different white light color temperatures. CCT is a straightforward way to communicate when discussing white light color appearance. CCT numbers are measured in degrees Kelvin to measure the specific white light or overall range of white light produced by tunable white lights.

Tunable White vs CCT Correlated Color Temperature
The specific CCT value represents a specific white light color

For example, a tunable white bulb will produce light between warm white to bright white range, which encompasses so many possibilities, it could be 2700K warm white or 3000K warm white, or it could be 5000K bright white or 6500K bright white. Using the CCT numbers, we characterize the color of tunable white led light.

Typically, when a tunable white lighting system is said to operate in two CCT ranges, it means that the white light illumination can operate between those two CCT color temperatures. 

Most of our CCT dimmable tunable white LEDs are made up of 2700K CCT and 6500K CCT, so you can run any white light between 2700K and 6500K, like 3000K or 5000K. But it won’t present white light outside this range, like 2000K or 7000K.

Tunable White LED ModelTunable Color Range
Most2700K-3000K to 6000K-6500K
FSLSR-CCT-2216X1260 (3 white outputs)1800K-2000K to 6000K-6500K
FSLSR-CCT-3014X1200, FSLSR-CCT-3528X600W10, FSLSR-CCT-3528X600-2562700K-3000K to 4000K-4500K
CCT Number Range Provided by Tunable White Light Strips

A secret to quickly remembering the warmth or coolness of tunable white light (what you feel when you look at a white light source).

The lower the CCT number, the warmer the feeling of white light, and the white color goes to yellow, orange, and red.

The higher the CCT number, the cooler the feeling, the bluer the white light color.

So 2700K has more yellow tones than 3000K, 2000K is more orange-red tones than 2700K. In general, 6500K is used as a CCT number to detect if an adjustable white light lamp will have a lot of blue light. In indoor lighting, this CCT number will be as low as about 5000K-5500K.

Benefits of Tunable White Lighting

Tunable white lighting provides a more dynamic led white lighting experience with CCT color changes between “warm” and “cool”. You can use it to simulate natural daylight and circadian rhythms.

Natural light changes color temperature throughout the day from warm (sunrise), gradually increasing to brighter (midday), and then gradually warming (sunset). 

During the day, exposure to cooler tunable white light helps increase alertness and the efficiency of daytime activities. And at night, using warmer tunable white light promotes melatonin production and aids in falling asleep. In this way, circadian lighting is achieved by creating led tunable white light colors based on different scenarios.

Tunable white lighting can affect people’s physiological and psychological state, providing a warming or cooling effect for your environment. Warm colors in a room will make you feel warm, intimate and relaxed, promoting your body to gradually enter a state of rest. Conversely, by adjusting your hybrid white LED to a cooler color, the high brightness white light that permeates the room can enhance concentration.

CCT changing led tunable lighting makes your white color temperature less permanent, and customizing or personalizing your lighting experience becomes a reachable possibility.

Difference Between Tunable White And Dim to Warm

Traditional dim to warm technology lighting provides a high color temperature at full output (typically 2700K to 3000K), and gradually reduces during dimming to a lower color temperature, even down to near 1800K, which is similar to the warm tones of candlelight.

It is important to note that in traditional dim-to-warm technology lighting, lowering the current results in two effects: a reduction in brightness and a warming of the light color. The adjustment of light brightness and color temperature are directly related and cannot be controlled independently.

Tunable White vs Dim to Warm
CCT tunable white light vs. Dim to warm light

LED dim to warm lighting system can reduce light output without changing color. The dim to warm LED is dimmed by changing the current or by PWM (Pulse Width Modulation).

Dim to warm LEDs use a combination of white light and amber light to achieve the 1800K to 3000K warm dim color temperature change.

LED tunable white can accommodate a wider range of color temperatures than LED dim to warm, allowing you to adjust any color temperature between warm white and cool white.

How LED Tunable White Dimming Works?

If you want to know exactly how tunable white technology achieves dimming, then you need to know this. Planck’s Law of Radiation gives a theoretical curve of spectral distribution based on the behavior of an idealized object “blackbody” at different temperatures. We call this the blackbody curve.

The colors of the blackbody at different temperatures are called different white light color temperatures. The two ends of the blackbody curve are 1000K and 10000K, indicating the warmest white light and the coolest white light. The light color will have a yellow/green/blue tint above the blackbody curve and a red/pink/purple tint below the blackbody curve.

White LED Color Tuning And Black Body Curve

The tunable white led color temperature usually changes in a linear way. This means that other tones may appear as the color temperature changes. When tuning LED tunable white to around 4000K, a neutral white with a pink or violet tint will be rendered because the color temperature change is linear (light achieved simply by adjusting the ratio of cool white to warm white LEDs).

The more the tunable white dimming curve converges to the blackbody curve (non-linear white tuning), the more natural the color rendered. The dimming color and hue of high quality tunable white light is natural and does not favor other colors.

How to Control Tunable LED White Lighting?

To adjust dual white led color or change CCT of led, you need controllers with two white light outputs (W-, W-/CW-, WW-) and controls that are compatible with color temperature tunable modes.

Usually, these controls use one function to change the CCT color temperature and another to change the intensity. You can also find separate functions to adjust the warm LED and the cool LED separately, which makes it easier to achieve your desired CCT.

  1. Wired PWM Tunable White Dimming:
Wired PWM Tunable White Dimming
  1. Wireless PWM Tunable White Dimming:
Wireless PWM Tunable White Dimming
  1. 0-10V Tunable White Dimming:
0-10V Tunable White Dimming
  1. DALI Tunable White Dimming:
DALI Tunable White Dimming
  1. Wired DMX Tunable White Dimming:
Wired DMX Tunable White Dimming
  1. Ltech Wireless DMX Tunable White Dimming:
Ltech Wireless DMX Tunable White Dimming