Advancing the effective use of light for society and the environment.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Communicating Light Source Color to Consumers
By Keith Toomey
Light source color differences
How can we best communicate light source color differences to consumers?

Most consumers do not understand the color of various light sources such as incandescent or fluorescent lamps.

The Lighting Research Center conducted six focus groups in three U.S. cities and is proposing a system to communicate color to consumers.

The focus groups in Sacramento, Calif., Columbus, Ohio, and Atlanta examined consumer attitudes and awareness about color and purchasing lamps (light bulbs) for their homes. Researchers presented variations of a proposed color communication system to the groups to assess consumer interest, comprehension, and suggested modes of educating consumers.

Color appearance can differ in various light sources.
Color appearance can differ in various light sources, from warm (yellowish) to cool (bluish).

The participants were initially indifferent, according to Russ Leslie, associate director of the LRC. Most did not want something else to think about when purchasing bulbs. But that all changed when the participants watched a demonstration with actual lighting products.

“When they saw the side-by-side table lamps lit with bulbs of different color temperatures,” Leslie explained, “they were amazed at the variations in color.”

The demonstration instantly created an interest in a color communication system and how color differences can be used to improve their homes’ décor.

Leslie said he expects the proposed, three-tiered, integrated color communication system (lamp label, package label, and point-of-purchase placard) to increase consumer awareness about why and how one should consider lamp-source color when purchasing lamps. The system would help manufacturers to market color choice as a feature, especially in their CFL products. And this, he says, could increase energy efficiency in homes.

LRC researchers have written two papers regarding the proposed system for communicating color. The first, “Foundations and Rationale,” by Mark Rea and Lei Deng, offers variations of the proposed system as well as the rationale behind it. The second paper, “What Do Consumers Think?” by Russ Leslie and Mark Rea, discusses the results of the focus groups.

These papers were presented at the Sixth International Lighting Research Symposium on Light and Color (conducted by the Lighting Research Office, a service of the Electric Power Research Institute). The papers are available on the Lighting Transformations Web site.

This research received financial support from NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association), U.S. Department of Energy, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

About the LRC

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting. Founded in 1988, the Lighting Research Center has built an international reputation as a trusted and reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. Its mission is to advance the effective use of light and create a positive legacy of change for society and the environment.

Rennselear Polytechnic Institute