One of the latest trends in lighting technology is ‘tunable white lighting’ – but what is it, and why is it causing such excitement in the lighting world?


Paul Murphy, co-founder and director of lighting and building control technology specialists, Intecho, discusses the impact it’s having and the huge benefits tunable-white is delivering.


The technology behind tunable white lighting is relatively new and, at present, being used in selected sophisticated/specialist settings where the advantages of this technology is of most benefit. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that tunable white will become far more mainstream over the coming years and will, ultimately, be available in residential as well as healthcare and commercial settings.


At Intecho, we are really excited about the possibilities of this sophisticated lighting technology and proud that we are programming it into some of the projects we are currently working on.


We all think of ‘white’ as being simply one colour but, like black, it comes in a number of different guises.


With tunable white, the ‘colour temperature’ of the white light emitting from the luminaire can be varied from a warm tone to a cool tone using a number of controllable channels.


Tunable white light, measured in Kelvins, allows any colour temperature to be programmed, from a very warm 2000K through to 4000k which delivers a brighter, bluer light that mimics daylight.


The idea behind this sophisticated lighting is that it imitates natural daylight which, it goes without saying, varies throughout the day. What it recognises is that natural light impacts on our mood, alertness and general sense of wellbeing.


If you know anything about your circadian rhythm, the internal clock that runs in your brain, you will know that it fluctuates between sleepiness and alertness and is the thing that controls your sleep/wake cycle.


And, whilst the brain controls our circadian rhythm, outside factors such as daylight also have an impact.


And it’s this ‘natural technology’ of the brain that’s being harnessed with this new technology.


We are currently using tunable white technology in a significant UK project at a new healthcare setting, DMRC, where the lighting is being used to have a positive health benefit and assist patients during their recovery and recuperation. It has also been proven that tunable white can help to accelerate the wellbeing, thus the recovery.


It’s not only healthcare where it’s being deployed. Education establishments are getting involved and using it to influence learning and behaviour and the benefits in commercial office settings are huge.


It won’t be long until tunable white is commonly used in residential and hospitality settings too. Who wouldn’t want to be lulled to sleep or gently awoken by lights which seamlessly shift to mimic natural light?