Lighting Color Temperature

Your guide to indoor color lighting

Isn't light just light? Not quite. Choosing the shape and size of a light bulb is only one aspect of the job. You may not realize it, but light bulbs come in a variety of color temperatures. The color temperature of the light you choose can help set a mood in your living space or even make you more productive in the office.

Color temperature does not indicate lamp heat. It actually tells us how light will look and feel by using warm and cool colors. Understanding the temperature scale will assist you in selecting the best "color" of light for your home.

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Most LED lighting products are available in a variety of color temperatures and white hues. Correlated color temperature, abbreviated as 'CCT' in the lighting industry, refers to how warm (yellow) or cool (blue) the color of light emitted by an LED bulb or fixture appears. It is measured in Kelvin (K) units on a scale of 1,000 to 10,000 and is best explained in terms of how sunlight works.

The color of the sun changes throughout the day, as measured in degrees Kelvin. At midday, temperatures may reach 6000K, or a very bright bluish-white light, while at sunset, temperatures may fall below 3000K, producing a very warm amber light. Kelvin temperatures for residential lighting applications are typically between 2500K and 5000K.

2200-2700K: produces a warm light, similar to an incandescent bulb, and is best for low-light areas where ambient lighting is required.

3000-3500K: similar to halogen lamps, produces a soft white light that is crisper than 2700K.

4000-4500K: produces a bright white light that is ideal for use in kitchens, offices, workspaces, and vanities where detail-oriented tasks are carried out.

5000K and higher: produces a bright bluish hue of light that is commonly found in commercial settings. 

Examine the colors of your walls, floor, ceiling, and furniture. If the majority of the colors in your home are cool, such as blacks, greys, blues, greens, and crisp whites, a cool LED color temperature such as 3000K or 3500K may be the best choice for complementing your decor. 

Warmer white LEDs will likely be your best bet if your home is filled with natural materials such as hardwood floors, tongue and groove ceilings, wood cabinets and furniture, woven rugs and fabrics in browns, tans, reds, and oranges.

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Another factor to consider is the design of your home. Certain spaces in traditional and transitional homes typically look best under 2700K LED warm white light, which emits a glow reminiscent of candlelight, gas light, and old-fashioned incandescent lights.

Modern homes' clean lines and minimalist design may look best with LEDs on the cooler side of the scale. However, keep in mind that for some areas, such as the bedroom, warmer temperatures may still be the best option for relaxation and sleep.

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