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LED Lighting & Color Temperature

Color Temperature is a measurement that indicates the degree of color being emitted from a light source in degrees Kelvin. Interestingly enough, it is not a measure of temperature at all but rather a way to gauge the varying degrees of the visible color spectrum that emanates from a light source.

This measurement began in the late 1800s, when William Kelvin experimented with heat and a block of carbon. As the he heated the carbon he noticed that it produced an array of colors as the temperature was increased. The heated carbon block first produced a dim red light and eventually a bright blue-white glow as higher temperatures were achieved. He noticed that with lower temperatures, most of the energy was converted to heat.

Why Does Color Temperature Matter in Lighting?

Color Temperature ChartColor temperature is particularly important in the lighting industry where differences in color temperature can affect how color is rendered and ultimately the mood and emotional impact of a room or environment. Lighting that is described as  warm or coolis ironically actually quite the opposite on the Kelvin color temperature scale. The supposed warm lights have a lower color temperature while cool lights├é┬Ł have a higher color temperature. Lower Kelvin numbers indicate that a light source appears more yellow; higher Kelvin numbers mean the light is whiter or bluer. Warm and cool lighting is an industry term that doesn't refer to the color temperature of lighting but rather the psychological characteristics of it.

Color temperature is often an aesthetic choice; every individual will typically have a different preference for each setting and application. LED bulbs offer white light in a variety of shades along the color temperature spectrum. Cool bright whites to warm yellows. Most LED retailers recommend using soft white lighting indoors and bright white lighting for garages, landscape lighting, and other outdoor areas. Here is a list of the most popular shades of LED lighting and the typical environments they are used in.

  • Warmer White Lighting  Often preferred in dining and living areas of your home where a more relaxed environment is preferred. Warmer earth tones are the most popular such as reds, oranges, and yellows.
  • Natural White Lighting  Ideal in areas where detailed lighting is required like kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Daylight White Lighting  This type of lighting is often chosen for stores and office space. The perfect lighting for keeping occupants alert.
  • Cool White Lighting  Often seen as a cooler, clean lighting. Used in hospitals, garages, and some industrial locations.

Your choice of LED light color temperature is often dictated by the environment and the look you hope to achieve in certain areas. Using lighting with different color temperature can create a specific feel in different environments.

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