What Color Temperature Should I Use?

Lighting design can be much more involved than just screwing in a light bulb. One of the things you will have to choose is the color of the light itself.

The color and hue of light can be described by a concept called color temperature. For a full explanation of color temperature and how it is measured, please read our article on LED light color temperatures.

There are three basic color temperature ranges: warm white, natural white, and cool white. 
  • Warm White - 2500-3200K
    • A warm, yellowish light. 
    • Often used in homes, hospitality, restaurants, or any place that needs to look warm and inviting. 
    • 2700K is typically used with standard light bulbs or candelabras. Most halogen lights are around 3000K
  • Natural White - 3500-4500K
    • A whiter, purer colored light. 
    • Used in some homes with a light color decor, or in retail and storefronts or office buildings. Provides a brighter, cleaner look. 
    • Often used with halogen lighting, or higher quality fluorescent lights. 
  • Cool White - 5000-6500K
    • A very bright, very white to almost bluish light. 
    • Often used in locations that need to maximize light output, such as street lights, warehousing, and some retail locations. Maximizes the lumen output of a product, providing the most light possible. 
    • Often associated with high bay lights, flood lights, or fluorescent lights.  

Recommended Color Temperatures (by venue type)

Note that these are suggestions, and other factors such as the colors used in the decor can affect your choice. 
  • Residential - Warm White
  • Hospitality - Warm White
  • Retail - Natural White or Warm White
  • Warehousing and Industrial - Natural White or Cool White
  • Offices - Natural White

Recommended Color Temperatures (by decor genre)

  • Contemporary/Modern look - Natural white
  • Traditional - Warm White
  • Lighter tones - Natural white
  • Darker tones/Earth tones - Warm White

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