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I recently installed recessed LED lights (very thin, which was needed for the ceiling). But the color of the LEDs is so bright and glaring! The lights are on a dimmer and are still too bright and blue-ish. I want to change these to a warm white LED, but am looking for alternatives before spending more money for four new lights (can't just change the bulb).

I heard of lighting gel paper, but am hesitant because they might trap heat. I know they also dim the light output, but I'm okay with that. Any other ideas?

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    This comes close to a product/shopping recommendation, which are off topic. But these recessed LED lights are available in variable color temperature (slider on the unit, or on a wall switch) or even full color range (red, green, blue, anything in between). I do a lot of lighting and I might use some kind of color filter if the lights weren't visible (crown molding light strips) but in your case I would just replace them. Sep 13, 2023 at 13:40
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    Check the case of the LED light or driver, sometimes they have a color control. We have some of these color-controllable LED ceiling puck lights. Sep 13, 2023 at 14:01
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    I think what makes this a bit of a shopping question is whether you can find filters that achieve the color you want, don't dim the lights too much, fit and attach well to your lights, don't look stupid and won't fall on your head in a couple of years. If you can buy that, the choice seems obvious and there isn't a question. I would just replace the lights. They will be there for a decade and they define the ambience of the room. If you care a lot about color get smart RGB ones.
    – jay613
    Sep 13, 2023 at 14:12
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    Put the old ones in the garage or basement or in bedroom closets where they help you see colors the way they look outside the house.
    – jay613
    Sep 13, 2023 at 14:18
  • Do these pucks not come in soft white?
    – Huesmann
    Sep 13, 2023 at 14:41

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Often these type of lights can have the color changed simply by sliding a switch that is on a side of the driver, or sometimes inside the driver box.

You will have to remove the lights from the ceiling. The lights are held up with spring clips that are like mini mouse traps. They pull down. Get your fingers under the outside edge. It can be a bit tight, but they do come down.

enter image description here

Inside the hole follow the "tail" of the light to the driver. ( see the blue line in the pic)

If there is not a switch outside the case, there may be one inside. There will be a cover that will snap off of the case. It should be hinged. Look inside and you can find the switch to change the color. (see the yellow in the last pic)

enter image description here

Should your lights have no adjustment on or in the driver, you have no choice, but to opt for the gel alternative, or change the lights to units that are color adjustable.

Reinstall the lights by holding the spring clips up and allowing them to grip the edge of the hole in the ceiling. Releasing them will pull the light into place.

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Gels are regularly used by photographers with much more intense lighting. That was my first thought, actually. While photo lights tend to have robust cooling, it's not a concern for me in this case. LEDs don't create a lot of heat, and this won't change things much in terms of heat retention. Look for gels which are self-adhesive, or use spray adhesive.

I've also used Sharpie markers to color the lenses of undercabinet lighting pucks. That's probably not practical from an aesthetic sense in this case, but it's one direction you could go.

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  • Might be tough getting the right color...if the existing color is "blueish" and the OP uses a yellowish gel/filter/sharpie, she may end up with greenish!
    – Huesmann
    Sep 13, 2023 at 14:41
  • There are specific gels meant for changing color temperature, known as CTO and CTB gels. Green is a possibility for sure, since LEDs don't produce full spectrum light as assumed by gels.
    – KMJ
    Sep 13, 2023 at 15:25
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Unless the bulbs/fixtures have a way of changing their color temp, they're going to be too blue for you no matter how much you brighten/dim them.

Some sort of colored gel over the lights would work to change the output color. I used some yellow tissue paper to soften the light coming out of my very cold LED work light when I used it as a stage light for a Christmas video a few years ago. It worked well and I used a bit of clear Scotch™ tape to hold it in place for the couple of hours we needed for filming. I most certainly wouldn't do that for as a long term solution.

You might find that a local photography shop would have some gels in stock and people who know light & color and they might be able to help you out. Especially if you know the color temperature of the lights (are they 4000K, 5000K? 3700k? - it'll make a different), and they'll be able to recommend a couple of gels to try out. They might even be willing to take a return on the colors you don't end up using.

Then you get into the issue of how to attach these and how long will they last.

Long term, you're probably going to be most satisfied by getting lights that either have 3 color temperature settings (that seems to be the standard I've seen when shopping for a variety of lights over the last couple of years), or a "smart" fixture where you can change the temperature from a very warm ~2500k to a very cold 4 or 5 or 6000k.

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I have already attempted to use gels in an effort to adjust the harsh, sterile white ceiling lights from my canless LEDs. However, enclosing the gel cut-out inside the light cover DID TRAP HEAT and DID MELT. THIS IS A HUGE FIRE HAZARD.

Putting the gel on the exterior of the light cover worked fine and did not cause any warping, melting, or odors. Downside: more gel is needed to cover the exterior of the light cover or you will get harsh white light shining through the edges. My biggest issue with putting them on the outside was how much of an eyesore it was.

I do NOT recommend trapping gels inside LED ceiling lights, canless, canned, or otherwise.

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