Choose Color Temperature
How important is color temperature?
Color Temperature is indicated in units called Kelvin and its value determines whether light bulbs produce warm or cold light. This guide shows how LED and energy-saving light bulbs can have different color temperatures.
If you shine a light through a prism, a rainbow appears. And the colors in that rainbow actually emit a different temperature. So when we say red, orange, and yellow are “warm” colors – they actually are warmer. Just as cool colors – violet, blue and green – are actually cooler when you measure the temperature of the light.
Unlike the temperature associated with weather, light temperature is measured on the Kelvin scale. Most of the light we use in our homes today falls on the warm end of the spectrum, between about 2000K – 3000K.
What is color temperature?
- Color temperature is a way to describe the light appearance provided by a light bulb (lamp). It is measured in degrees of Kelvin (K) on a scale from 1,000 to 10,000.
- Typically, commercial and residential lighting application Kelvin temperatures fall somewhere on a scale from 2000K to 6500K.
- A light bulb’s (lamp’s) color temperature lets us know what the look and feel of the light produced will be.
- The color temperature of a light bulb (lamp) is assigned using the basis of correlated color temperature (CCT).
- For example, if you heat up a metal object, the object appears to glow. Depending on the Kelvin temperature that the metal object is being heated at, the glow will be various colors, such as orange, yellow or blue. The color temperature of light bulbs (lamps) is meant to replicate the Kelvin temperature of the metal object.
Color Temperatures of Light Bulbs
Selecting the right light bulb and fixture for your application requires careful consideration of its Kelvin temperature. The color temperature can also help guide you in determining which fixture is right for each room. Whether you need an ambient source of light or one for highly-focused task lighting, keep in mind the following Kelvin ranges:
- Less than 2000K: gives off a dim glow of light, similar to what you might find from candlelight; best for low light areas where ambient illumination is welcomed
- 2000K-3000K: gives off a soft white glow, often yellow in appearance; best for living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and outdoor spaces
- 3100K-4500K: gives off a bright amount of white light; best for kitchens, offices, work spaces and vanities where task lighting is needed
- 4600K-6500K: gives off a bright amount of blue-white light, similar to that of daylight; best for display areas and work environments where very bright illumination is needed
- 6500K and up: gives off a bright bluish hue of light, often found in commercial locations; best for bright task lighting