Why Cool White Lights Primarily?

Why do the budget light manufacturers in China continue to make 95% or so of their lights in cool white only? Is it cheaper or is it due to their wanting to use the highest claimed Lumens output version of a given LED?

It would seem to me like offering most lights with Neutral and Warm output options would add minimally to the production cost and possibly increase sales, particularly if they included high CRI options too.

1. As you noted, big lumen numbers sell lights, probably more than anything else. The underinformed consumer knows little about CRI, tint, or color rendition.

2. The warmer tints seem to cost more money. I know that the cost for the warm tints is slightly higher than the cost for the cool tints. It isn't much, but when you're scraping to save every last penny it adds up quick. I don't know if this is because of actual materials cost, or just because there are more cool white emitters made.

3. Most of the "budget lights" don't come with high binned cool white emitters. You will often get emitters with cooler output than a 1A, along with less output. There is no way they can afford to put $20 worth of good XM-L2 U2 1A LEDs into a 7x SRK clone that they sell for $25. In my testing most of these XM-L2s are a T4/T5 bin at best, or even much lower.

Cool white look futuristic and “cool” compared to the “old” very warm incan lights everyone used.

I've tried to like WW LEDs. The most I can go is just warner tham XM-L2 T6. The dingy yellow is just awful. It really is. And since the manufacturers are just trying to make a buck, they go with the bigger advertised numbers.

To me the ideal would be a true full spectrum output white LED with the color temperature centered on about 4000K to 4500K or so. Unfortunately no such animal is yet available.

The dingy yellow is a result of poor CRI not the temperature itself. Cree still has a lot of work to do in this field.
For example bridgelux has excellent phosphors mix that produce stunning light without “puke” yellow even at 2700°K

However high CRI kills efficiency quite bad, even newest large COB arrays are around 100 lm/W at CRI90…

Cheap flashlights get cheap LEDs — that can be used where only one at a time is visible and variation isn’t visible.

Sorting for use where multiple LEDs are used together and consistent color is noticeable raises the cost somewhat.

For the cheap lights, it’s definitely lumens-per-dollar, but I’d like to add that daylight is 5000-6500K. With all else being equal, close to daylight seems like a reasonable default for artificial lights, while everything else is more special-purpose.

I agree but prefer the 5000K range which is closer to NW. Some lights though are using LEDs that are in the 7000K to even 8000K which is way too blue for me. The SolarStorm T3 and T4 are examples of lights with way too cool LEDs.

The Solarstorm T3 is a $30 light with three XM-L emitters. This is definitely about lumens per dollar.

agreed, I like at the most say 6000K to 7000K for my cool white…much higher and it has a really bad blue hue to the light, but my favorite tint so far is the 4300-4500K C4 tint, neutral with a very slight hint of yellow.

Everyone’s view of the light is subjective and personal preference, but to many a flashlight is a flashlight

Warmer tints interfere with night vision less, bother people and other animals less, penetrate fog and smoke better and interfere less with astronomy. All the same advantages of red, but less so, and you can still see color.

They are cheaper chips thats why, i would greatly enjoy a 3500ish K 80 CRI chip but that would cost a lot.
I was surprised when i first saw U2 binned chips were sold for less then T6 (often 3C), but that explains why the U2 is used the most.

Because they cost the least. I seriously doubt most of the cheapie brands are honest about the bins. They already lie about the lumens, so why would they care about the bin? They're just buying the cheapest available emitter and calling any of them something "generic" like XM-L T6 or XM-L2 U2. Those emitters are probably the cheapest because Cree favors commercial fixtures in production runs using massive numbers of emitters, and cold tints must be less desirable, so get overflowed into the flashlight market that uses tiny numbers of emitters per production run.

For the lower price, I didn’t think they cost more to manufacture warmer tints. I always thought it was simply supply and demand. And the demand for the Cool Tints is likely higher due to the higher Lumens that can be “stated”. Just been my outlook on things.

Yes, I think its pure supply and demand, and most manufacturers want to advertise the highest lumens possible, so they want CW. Since orders for CW are high, many more are produced, and NW and WW are respectively less ordered, causing them to be more “rare” and stocked less. This leads to them having to be “special ordered” and prices to be a bit higher just by supply/demand. They know they can always produce and sell another run of CW for the latest light and they wont be sitting on shelves for long, whereas the last 7D4 tint group they may have no large buyers mass producing lights for it and no certainty of fast turnover…not much point to even carry them unless asked.

Also it seems from what I have heard, that the LEDs are binned after manufacture, leading one to think there is some variation in the end product. (correct me if I’m wrong) This makes more sense in causing a price difference too: that would mean that the most common orders would be targeted around say 6500k for “brightest LEDs”, and some may come out 5500, some may come out 7500-8k. The difference being, the 7500-8k are more “blue” and probably less desirable castoffs that some manufacturers would select against, while the lower range closer to NW are just as bright and are sold as part of the group. The many leftover extra blue/purple tint castoffs in the 7,500-8+k are probably sold more cheaply to the bargain basement Chinese light companies. This would explain the high percent of blue/purple tint in the cheaper knockoff brands (high production run undesirable tint extras), and the reason why NW and WW would be more expensive (they just don’t order many or produce many).

Its also the cheapest default to assemble every light the same way, which again defaults to highest lumen per cost, which means CW for more premium brands and 7,500-8k blue tints for cheap brands. Plus if you dont specify tints, buying whatever is currently available for the lowest money is an option, and your lights may have anything from 5k to 8k and you don’t care, maybe “unsorted/binned” LED purchase lots are cheaper too…

On the other hand, if you go to Illumination Supply and have a look at their Zebralights, the neutral tints tend to be sold out ALOT more than the cool tints. i think THAT tells you something about what is actually selling.

Matt; Of course that could also be because Zebralight gives you a choice where others do not so people who want warmer tints tend to migrate to brands which provide the choice.

That just follows what I said though. If you have less production of NW and WW, they can go out of stock quicker, and be harder to restock. Plus I’m talking total production, probably individual LED sales is just a bit different than the big production runs companies do, and even if NW sells 10x better there, there are probably 1,000s of CW cheapo LEDs sold in lights for every one of those sold individually…

I’m hoping it changes though, I prefer WW myself, for all the reasons stated above.

What I would like to see if a mix of CW and WW on a board for these in house bulbs…would create a much wider light spectrum and maybe even increase the CRI due to the broad spectrum wavelengths present

Seriously…could you imagine the marketing capability if one of these Chinese companies started selling high CRI and wide spectrum 60 watt dropins that actually made the colors more vibrant?

I’ve got a few lights I wanted to try that with…but unfortunately every daggum one I have gotten has different size emitters on each one…no conformity whatsoever