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We are replacing 6 incandescent bulbs in our kitchen ceiling cans with LEDs. The light is now so bright and harsh it looks like a hospital operating room in a bad horror movie.

Any suggestions on covers or filters to go over the cans to soften the light and maybe shift to warmer / more yellow than white?

Thanks!

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    Just as a note when considering the color temperature recommendations, the color temperature of traditional incandescent bulbs is around 2700K. Usually something 3500K or less is comfortable. Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 18:39
  • Wow - thanks everyone for the helpful recommendations! Guess we'll have to look into some different bulbs, or maybe one of those nifty retrofit lights. Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 16:21

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Not sure of covers, as the cans need to open for ventilation to avoid overheating the led from long operating periods.

Things you can do to remove the harshness

  • Select warm white colour(3700k) led bulbs if you dont like daylight (6500k) https://cdn11.bigcommerce.com/s-9wln2h/product_images/uploaded_images/boogeylights-kelvin-temps.png
  • Get bulbs with pearl coating (led bulbs come in two variants clear and pearl(diffused light) , if you can replace the bulb (not sure on your fitting , some are hard wired vs some are socketed)
  • Get different brand of led light (some leds have a broader led lens to spread the light)
  • Use a universal dimmer to control brightness of leds
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  • FYI, Despite what marketing packaging says, 6500k i cool ,blueish,. Natural daylight is around 5000k to 5500K. I prefer 4000k, moderately warm, in most of my home and work fixtures.
    – Alaska Man
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 19:01
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I'd hesitate on installing covers or filters that would cut down on air cooling the bulbs. Try installing a dimmer or get some bulbs that are "warm white" instead of "cold white". Check your home stores or lighting stores to see different colors of the LED bulbs available.

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Rosco Cinegels

are the stuff to use to alter a "color temperature" or add diffusion. They are sold by theatrical supply companies. They are made to clip onto the bezels of halogen lights, so they can stand some temperature.

Note that use of gels to color-correct a poor-CRI source will only make the CRI even worse.

However, the root problem is cheap LEDs

and unawareness of the whole deal about color temperature.

  • Harshness of light. There's a reason lightning supply outlets have sample displays.
  • Color temperature. Other answers have explained this in detail.
  • CRI (Color Rendering Index). This is the quality of light: how natural and balanced the light appears as compared to pure daylight/cloudlight.

With LEDs, it is cheaper to make LEDs with poor color temperature and CRI, because LED light is inherently blue, and is balanced out into white and given high CRI using phosphors, which are not cheap. Cheaping out makes the light bluer and worse CRI. Harshness is a matter of lensing and diffusion, and again less of that is cheaper.

If CRI is not stated, count on it being pretty bad. If the items were bought on eBay/Banggood/Dealextreme/Wish or other junk sites and unfortunately that includes 95% of the stuff on Amazon, thanks to their notorious "Amazon Marketplace" mixed in with normal results. They evade consumer product safety and accuracy of labeling inspections altogether by shipping from China or an Amazon warehouse (why!!?) Back it goes, demand that refund! These crooks depend on people going "whatever" and not demanding a refund.

What's the deal with color temperature

You don't realize how many "whites" there are because human eyes auto-adjust - up to a point. People like workspace lighting (office, kitchen) that is bluer, like 4000-5000K. However, especially into the evening, they prefer "hearth and home" lighting that is 2500-3000K. One of the charms of the dangerous old halogen lights was if you dimmed them, they got oranger.

For instance today is a cloudy day that is very blue light - 6500K. A sunny day is more like 5100K. The difference between the two actually had me changing my monitor settings to be bluer.

Fluorescent lights are generally 4100K, that's a good color temp for work lighting. (keep in mind very old fluorescents also have terrible CRI; new fluorescents have the best CRI in the business.)

Halogens are 3000K but get oranger (lower) when dimmed, which people really like because it is more like firelight. Old incandescent is a warm 2700K, quite orangeish compared to other lights.

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I like the can light retrofit assemblies available in big box stores at a reasonable price.

These are easy to install and are dimmable. Yiu will want to install a dimmer switch on the circuit to benefit from the dimmable feature.

These also allow you to select between 5 color options.

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I don’t know if there is a cheap filtering film that would be safe or effective to just stick on a bulb. I would have some concerns about anything that might cause overheating.

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