Bright marketing tactic assumes you’re in the dark about LED lighting

OPINION — February 29, 2020

First, let me just say the website is beautiful. At bebrilli.com, you’ll find visuals of active and attractive young people, crisp white light bulbs and great graphics that hint of lighting science at its best. A headline speaks, “Meet Brilli. Healthy home lighting that’s tuned in to you. Experience a range of wellness benefits with the lighting designed for better living. Make the switch – satisfaction guaranteed.”

Their point being: Brilli light bulbs are the best circadian-rhythm-stimulating bulbs you can buy. Star Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan; she accepts the company’s advertising dollars and promotes the light bulbs here on her Goop website. Brilliant website, brilliant PR.

What Brilli continues to claim throughout the site is that Brilli’s “new home-lighting collection intended to support the body’s natural biological rhythms” offers unique means of “charging up,” “winding down,” and “getting in sync.”

In fact, the “charge up” products are LED light bulbs that are high on the correlated-color temperature (Kelvin) scale; the “wind down” products are LED light bulbs that are low on the correlated-color temperature (Kelvin) scale; and the “get in sync” products are luminaires (recessed and flush-mount) with dimmable (down to 10 percent of normal output) and tunable LED lighting to go from one extreme to the other (namely, from a very warm 2200K to a cool 5000K). Multiple lumens (watt equivalencies) are available in the light bulb offerings, as well.

Brilli provides references to research and self-sponsored studies, ultimately claiming that “no other lighting achieves the same balance of wellness, visual comfort, aesthetics and energy efficiency as completely or comprehensively.”

That statement might be true if, in fact, Brilli uses higher-quality phosphors than “most LEDs” as it claims, but what defines “most LEDs”? Can we assume cheap LED light bulbs you might find at the dollar store? In addition, it appears Brilli knows that having consistency in raw LED materials is not necessarily the end game. It states, “Our lighting was designed with multiple types of LEDs to simulate the effects of sunrise and sunset. These multiple LED’s also allow us to provide the right spectrum of light for well-being.” Obviously, Brilli understands the nature of LED binning, explained very well here. The thing is, so do other leading manufacturers of high-quality, tunable LED light bulbs available at most any hardware or lighting store.

Finally, the benefits of circadian-rhythm lighting are well known. Exposing oneself to bright, sunlight-like light throughout the day and warm-toned, calming light after the sun sets is a great way to support overall wellness. What’s lacking in the Brilli claims, however, is the explanation that the benefits of circadian stimulation depend on the length of time of exposure to sunlight-like lighting. In other words, too little time under a Brilli “charge up” LED light bulb won’t have much of a human-centric effect, regardless.

Bottom line: Before you go paying $8 for a light bulb (which, honestly, is a decent-enough price), plus shipping and handling, expecting radical, positive changes to your mood and emotions, visit your local hardware store first and try some name-brand tunable LED light bulbs, those that provide the Kelvin color-temperature ranges in a single unit (vs. having to buy two to benefit from the range). Then, expose yourself to the 5000K light for as long as you can during the day, tuning down to 2700 or lower, if possible, in the evening hours.

— M. Badgett