Color temperature is measured in Kelvins and it describes the color of the light as it appears to the human eye when looking looking directly at the light source. In layman terms, the Kelvin color temperature indicates how warm or cool the light will appear to your eyes.

Color temperature will determine a lot of the look and feel of your space so it is important not only to select the right light but also understand how the color temperature is measured. Today, modern low voltage LED lighting offers a wide range of color temps along with smart connected lighting that can vary the entire length of the color temperature spectrum and beyond into RGB combinations. Finding the right temperature for your application will be critical in achieving your desired decor.

Let's discuss how we measure color temperature and some common applications for different temperatures below.

Color temperature scale for lighting

measuring color temperature

Color temperature is measured in units called Kelvins which represent the absolute temperature scale. In Kelvins the lowest value is 0 which indicates absolute 0 or the absence of any kinetic energy in the system. Measuring the temperature of lighting essentially compares it to black body radiation, or the light produced from heating a specific type of black body object.

We can imagine measuring the color temperature as indicated by the light given off when heating an object. For instance, when you gradually heat a metal bar you will notice that the heat is given off partially as light which will go from a muted red to yellow and as you reach higher temperatures the bar will start to glow white then blue. Color temperatures over 5000K are referred to as "cool colors" while that in the lower range of < 3000K are often referred to as "warm colors". Colors in the RGB spectrum that are outside the warm to cool range are not measured by temperature so when we refer to color temperature it is within the context of natural lighting equivalents.

Color temperature range in lighting

common color temperatures

Selecting the right color temperature for your Indoor or outdoor lighting is essential to creating the ambiance you are after. With the wrong temperature light your space can look muted, washed out or overly energetic. By carefully selecting your color temperature you can control the type of environment you are after. From cool blue commercial lighting to warm and inviting foyer lighting, the color of your light source plays a critical role in the aesthetic and functionality of your space. Let's take a look at some common color temps and their applications.

Warm Lighting Effect 2700-2800K

When you are looking for a warm and cozy light source, lower temperature lighting can create a warm and inviting glow to your space. Traditional incandescent bulbs will typically produce light in this range.

Neutral Bright Lighting 3500-4000K

As we head up in temperature we cross into the white end of the spectrum which is nice for office spaces, closets and work spaces. This neutral white light will be slightly bluer as you head towards 4000K.

Daylight equivilent lighting 5000-6500K

Daylight color temperature at noon is 5600K, but sunlight color temperature can vary widely based on time of day and weather conditions. To give the perception of daylight (bluish white light), use light sources with a color temperature of 5000K or higher.


choosing the right color temperature lighting

It is hard to say the color temperature you will need without knowing the details of your application but there are some trends in common applications that will be useful as a guide. Although you can use any temperature lighting you desire there are some benefits to the right light temperature in different areas of your home and office. Let's look at some application areas for our most common color temperatures.

WARM 2700-2800K COLOR

Low color temperatures produce a warm cozy light that is great for bedrooms and living rooms where you want a warm and inviting feeling. In this temperature you will find many standard incandecent bulbs and fixtures.

3500K color temperature bedroom lighting


In the slightly cooler range of 3200-3500K the color begins to more towards the white end of the spectrum making this lighting ideal for modern bedrooms and living areas. LED lights produce better blues toward the cool end.

4100K color temperature kitchen lighting

COOL 4000-4200K COLOR

For dining and food preperation areas a cooler more natural color light works well. task lighting in your home office, kitchen, bathroom or rooms that use vibrant white, blue or greens.

5000K color temperature lighting for offices


Full spectrum light sources are bright white but can appear slightly blue to the human eye. 5000K lighting is often used in commercial office locations such as foyers and meeting areas to increase productivity. The 5000K color lighting is commonly thought of as the equivalent of a bright sunny day.

6000K color temperature office lighting


Above 5000K the light source will produce a cool bluish but harsh white light that can be unusually harsh for residential applications. In areas such as meeting rooms and common areas, high temperature lighting is thought to help increase productivity.

popular product categories by color temperature

At Brand Lighting we are experts in color temperature, if you need help finding the right temperature for your application our friendly family of lighting professionals is here to help by phone, chat or email. Online you will find thousands of lighting options for all areas of the home. Within our curated online selection you will find the full range of color temperature lighting from the warm and cozy to the stark and cool. Many modern LED powered lights have a range of color temperatures and CRI's they are available in so be sure to check the options and specifications for your selection.