Lighting Color Temperature - Difference Between Cool & Warm Lights

Many consumers today incorrectly assume that all LED lights and bulbs are exactly the same. Most are entirely focused on the style or wattage of the product, while overlooking the major role color temperature provides. Unlike previous incandescent bulbs and fixtures, LED versions offer a wide range of color temperatures. Selecting the correct color temperature will determine the mood of a living space, or even affect the productivity of a work space.

Color Temperature Scales

Correlated Color Temperature, also referred to as CCT, describes the color of light that is being emitted from a bulb or fixture. For example, think about when heat is applied to a metal object. Initially the color of the metal will begin to glow depending on the Kelvin temperature that is being used, but as it gets hotter, the color will change from red to orange or yellow and then eventually to white. Basically, the heat of the metal correlates to its color, which lets you know its correlated color temperature. Utilizing this scale, you can determine what the color of light will be that is being produced from a bulb or fixture. Here are some examples below:

  • Below 2000K: this is a very dim, almost dark light
  • 2000K-3000K: this is warm white light with hints of yellow
  • 3100K-4500K: this is a bright white light
  • 4600K-6500K: this is a bright blue-white light (daylight is around 5200K)
  • 6500K and above: this is bright bluish light (also referred to as full-spectrum)

So, basically you can see the higher the temperature gets, the cooler the color will be. For example, if your searching for a color that would be appropriate for a living area in your home, 2700K is probably the best option. Whereas, a professional space like an office would require a cooler light such as 5000K.

Warm Light Colors

When light that is being emitted from a bulb or fixture falls in the 2000K to 3000K range on the color temperature chart it is described to be warm white. This color temperature is very popular for common living spaces within residential applications due to its red and yellow hues that present clothing and skin tones in a flattering manner.

Most homeowners want to have cozy environment when it comes to bedrooms and living rooms, that's why a 2700K color temperature has became the standard choice. For areas such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms were visual tasks are being performed, a soft white 3000K color temperature would be the most appropriate.

Cool Light Colors

When it comes to the higher end of the Kelvin scale, blue and green colors are considered to be on the cooler side. Since, a cool light provides more contrast, it's a preferred choice when it comes to task lighting.

Some consumers prefer a light color that is not too warm and not too cool, they want something that falls in between. If that's the case for you, look for a color temperature that falls in the range of 3100K to 4000K. We suggest opting for a 3500K color temperature, especially for living spaces that have warm, earthy tones.

For indoor areas where the home décor and walls feature cooler colors, we suggest opting for bulbs or fixtures in the 4000K cool white to 5000K bright white range. This will provide your area with a crisper light that has a bluish-white tone. Also, LEDs with a daylight color temperature are also ideal for outdoor lighting, highlighting the important architectural features of your home while helping to keep it safe and secure during the night hours.