Choosing the right color temperature for LED lighting can be a confusing task for the average customer.
When buying LED lights to satisfy a particular space design, careful attention needs to be given to the color temperature, otherwise the final light output and effect will not be uniform and will fail to meet expectations.
This article provides details and covers the technicalities to help understand concepts of color temperature chart, to ultimately choose the right LED light for the space.
As a general tip, the LED lighting color, output and style should match the aesthetics and furniture of your space.
Understanding color temperature
What is color temperature?
The Correlated Color Temperature or CCT of an LED light fixture defines the appearance (i.e., warm or cool lighting effect) produced by the light bulb. It should be mentioned that the value is not an indication of how hot or cool the bulb feels to touch.
Color temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin on a scale of 1000 to 10000.
Correlated color temperature represents the color of the light source, highlighting the warmth or coolness of the light. Understanding this value facilitates the choice of LED lights which match the exact setting and ambiance of the space.
Color Temperature and Space
The color temperature of LED lights has a major effect on the room where the lights are used. The value is measured in Kelvin with typical values for commercial and residential lighting ranging between 2000 & 6500K.
Heat from a light source produced by passing current reflects on the color effect of the light source and the change in heat is reflected in a change in the Kelvin value.
On the Kelvin color scale the low end of the spectrum is red, the middle is daylight, also referred to as neutral light, and the upper end is blue.
Reflecting this scale onto the output of a LED lighting fixture means a LED light with a Kelvin value at the lower end will appear red to yellow, giving a warm color output and a warm effect on the room, while a value at the higher end will give a bluish effect giving the room a cool effect.
For all the values on the spectrum, the change in color temperature does not affect in any way the bulb’s physical temperature.
Other effects of color temperature on space
Aside from the effect on the ambience of a space, color temperature also has a significant effect on human emotions and interactions. Research shows that different LED color temperatures can motivate, excite and relax people.
For example, warm light is excellent for creating relaxed and romantic settings for dinners, while bright neutral light is excellent for working spaces. Cool light is usually used in offices for creating energized and happy environments.
Color Temperature Chart
Color temperature chart reflects the color change on the Kelvin color scale caused by the change in the Kelvin degrees.
Choosing the right color temperature can make a huge difference in selecting a light that serves the purpose of the space.
The color temperature chart ranges from 1000K to 10000K, and shows values in degrees Kelvin, rounded up for ease of use:
Typical Color Temperature
2500K- Sunrise and Sunset
3000K- Light bulb
3500K- Morning or Evening sun
5500K- Midday sun
6500K- Cloudy sky
10000K- Clear sky
The color temperature chart is mirrored onto the LED Lighting color temperature ranges below, to give relevance between the temperature and the expected effect.
The degree values are included on the lighting package to assist customers in their selection.
LED Lighting Color Temperature
5600K-6400K- Cool daylight
6500K+- Ultra daylight
How to Select the Right Color Temperature
Each room in the house and every space serves a different purpose, and the lighting requirements can widely vary from one space to another.
These factors are crucial to study while planning the lighting selection for a space and choosing the exact color temperature.
Below are some pointers to help define the space and choose the correct color temperature for a space.
- What is the purpose behind the room? As each room and space has a different purpose, it is essential to determine the purpose of the room and the kind of operation that will take place. Is the space a high end restaurant? A fast-food restaurant? A room for relaxation? An office? These questions will directly affect the color temperature to select for choosing the right lighting fixtures.
- What kind of ambiance do I want to create? How do you want people to feel when they walk into the room? Do you want to create a romantic or homely atmosphere? Is the setting work-related with a serious environment, or do you want to create a playful and energetic surrounding? Color temperature has a direct effect on emotions and using the wrong value can unintentionally create an undesired effect.
- What is the intended look and style? This is a more personal question, and relates to the design and style of the fixture and its overall feel
A number of other questions can also help in making the right choice such as the specific task the light has to serve, like reading, working or sleeping, or the effect the lighting will have on potential guests, whether it’ll make them comfortable or tense.
These questions and pointers will help draw a clearer understanding of the type of LED light needed and the color temperature expected for the space.
Color Temperature Guide
As mentioned earlier, LED bulbs with a value between 2000K and 3000K have a warm light, values of 3500K produce a neutral light, and bulbs with values 4000K and upwards produce a cool light.
Moving forward with this knowledge, as well as the pointers and questions detailed above, the below section defines a guide for choosing the right color temperature for specific types of spaces as well as recommendations for each.
Tips to consider
- The ambiance to create
- The purpose of the room
- The style of the room interiors
- Office /Workspace: Workspaces require bright lighting to give a focused, alert, and productive ambiance. In such settings, it’s recommended to use neutral LED lighting with a color temperature of 4000K. These are the most common LED lighting types for office spaces due to their versatility and ability to satisfy multiple uses.
- Bedroom: This space is essentially designated for comfort, for relaxing and unwinding in a private environment. Bedrooms have a close connection to the occupants in terms of the effect they give their residents and the relation between the occupants and the room’s style and interior. It is therefore only natural to select a comfortable and warm color temperature lighting for this space, typically in a range between 2700K-3000K.
This range communicates directly with the light sensors in humans, which can detect differences between bright daylight and warmer tones that signify the day is coming to an end.
Warm color temperature LED lights prepare the brain for a good night’s rest. Warm light bedside reading lamps are also recommended for directed nighttime readings.
- Restaurant: Choosing the right color temperature LED light for a restaurant is essential as it sets the mood and creates a specific atmosphere.
- Fine dining restaurant: For a fine dining restaurant, warm color temperature LED light bulbs are recommended with a range of 2500K-3000K to create a relaxed ambiance and enjoyable dining experience for customers. Different values can be used depending on the purpose of the space while maintaining values within the warm range, to ensure a homely feel and guaranteed comfort of the customers.
- Fast food restaurant: Customers of fast food restaurants on the other hand are not looking for ambiance or settings, they usually grab a quick bite and move on with their daily activities. Warm colors are recommended for fast food places, however with higher values than those for fine dining, ranging between 2700K-3000K. This range still ensures comfort for the customers, however does not give the relaxed feeling for customers to spend a long time, as the space is intended for short visits.
- Hotels: Color temperatures in the range 2700K to 3000K are recommended for hotels, specifically hotel rooms, to replicate lighting in the households of the customers, making it easier for residents to relax and fall asleep. Lobbies and corridors could be illuminated at the same values to maintain a warm feel throughout, or with brighter or neutral color temperatures to liven up the common spaces.
Frequently Asked Questions about color temperature
Which color temperature is best?
There is no best or worst color temperature.
Each color temperature has its benefits and serves a specific purpose. Typically, warmer color temperature lighting fixtures with values ranging from 2700K-3000K are used more often.
Does color temperature affect brightness?
Color temperature does not affect actual brightness.
A LED light with a color temperature of 5000K and a specific lumen output might seem brighter than the same light with a 2700K temperature, however the brightness isn’t affected.
The difference in effect is due to the different colors and the eye’s perception of each color.
One has a more vivid white color temperature and looks brighter while the other exhibits a warmer color temperature; however, the actual brightness does not change.
Is color temperature an indication of lamp heat?
No, color temperature is not relevant to the heat emitted by the bulb or the heat on the electronic components of LED fixtures and the value is only related to how cool or warm a light looks.
What color temperature do I need for my space?
Every space has a different purpose and therefore has different needs. The right color temperature can be determined as a result of the features, pointers and recommendations given throughout this article
What is the best color temperature for the eyes?
Lights with warm color temperature are more suited as blue lights can cause straining of the eyes.