Understanding Color Temperature Lighting

Posted by Briana Lipor on 3/11/20 9:00 AM


Color temperature is a description of the warmth or coolness of a light source.

Ever since the creation of the first light bulb by Thomas Edison in 1879, the same Soft White color temperature has appeared in every setting possible. For over 130 years, Soft White light bulbs have given off a lightly yellowish glow making homes across the globe feel warm and cozy. Fast forward to the advanced technology of CFLs and LEDs, light bulbs now come in a wide range of color temperatures, providing many options to choose from when lighting a room.

Light color temperature is represented in the unit of absolute temperature, Kelvin, noted by the symbol K. There are three primary types of color temperature:

  • Warm White
  • Bright/Cool White
  • Daylight

The higher the degrees Kelvin, the whiter the color temperature. Although the whiter lights will appear "brighter" to the human eye, the amount of Lumens (measurement for total light output) does not change, and true brightness is not affected. 




Kelvin color temperature scale

  • Less than 2,000K  -gives off a dim glow of light. similar to what you might find with candlelight. Best for low light areas where ambient illumination is welcomed. 
  • 2,000 - 3,000K  -gives off a soft white glow, often yellow in appearance; best for living rooms, bedrooms and outdoor spaces
  • 3,100K - 4500K   -gives off a bright amount of white light; best for kitchens, offices, work spaces and vanities where task lighting is needed
  • 4,600K - 6,500K  -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
  • 6,500K and up -gives off a bright blue-ish hue of light, often found in commercial locations; best for bright task lighting

Aside from choosing the type of bulb itself, color temperature can guide you in determining which fixture is right for your application. Color temperature and its wide range of options are extremely important when choosing a lighting fixture. Every location and environment requires different lighting tones to best suit the activity in those spaces. To better determine the color temperature that you need, consider the type of tasks that will be completed in that space, or the type of feeling you want to convey. 




To achieve the most efficiency out of your light source, look for a fixture that utilizes a high-quality optic. With LEDs, the output is concentrated and the distribution is too broad and lacks intensity over distance. Reflectors collect light, magnify intensity, control, direct to the target surface and enhance beam and color uniformity. Have questions on your next lighting project? Contact us today at 866-276-6242 to learn how to make the most out of your lighting project. 


Topics: Material for Segmented Reflectors, Engineering, Mechanical Design, Photometric Design, Light Quality, Energy Efficient, Energy Efficiency, aluminum reflectors, photometrics, lighting reflectors, LED lighting, fluorescent lighting