The color temperature of LED lighting is an aesthetic choice and you may have your own preference for each setting and application. When developing an energy conservation project, it's important to not only find solutions that are energy efficient and cost-effective, but that are also aesthetically pleasing. Learn more below about which lighting color temperatures are typically chosen to set the mood in different spaces.
The color temperature scale ranges from the warm or red colors to the cool or blue end of the spectrum.
The lighting found in the living room of your home, for example, is a warmer color temperature than the lighting installed in a manufacturing facility. The color temperature of a fixture expresses the color appearance of the light itself. Lighting color temperature plays a large role in the mood and emotional impact of a room or environment.
Therefore, lighting for the home versus lighting for an office or industrial space is installed or retrofitted with attention to the location’s primary use.
The color temperature of a light source reflects how the light appears when the human eye looks directly at the illuminated fixture. When our engineers are choosing which color temperature to use when implementing a lighting retrofit (whether hospital, data center, dormitory, supermarket, etc.), they vary the color temperature depending on where they are installing the fixtures.
How color temperature is measured
Color temperature is measured in degrees of Kelvin (K).
An incandescent light bulb that produces light perceived as a yellowish-white has a color temperature of around 2700K. As the color temperature increases to 3000-3500K, the color of the light appears less yellow and increasingly white.
A color temperature of 5000K or higher appears more as a bluish-white. It’s also interesting to note that higher kelvin temperatures (4000k or above) are called “cool” temperatures while lower temperatures (2700-3000k) are labeled “warm”. The terms aren’t used to describe the actual temperature of the flame used to produce the light but rather the aesthetic appeal they generate.
Typical lighting temperatures based on application:
Very Warm White (2300K-2700K)
This is the lowest possible color temperature of white light that produces a yellow hue, similar to incandescent. It is preferred in residential spaces, restaurants or hospitality projects. This warm light is most appropriate in dining and living areas where you want to achieve a more relaxed, cozy atmosphere.
Warm-White to Neutral White (3000K-4000K)
This range in color temperature is primarily found in retail stores, office spaces and libraries. Commercial facilities tend to choose this color temperature because it makes a space “feel” more productive and business focused. This temperature of lighting is also often found in restroom or kitchen spaces where detailed tasks are performed (such as applying makeup or using knives, for example).
Cool White (around 5000K)
Cool white lighting is found in manufacturing facilities, industrial areas, and warehouses. This level of illumination can help with concentration in areas where strict attention to detail is very important. This lighting is seen as “clean” and best for visual tasks.
Color Choice Example for an Office Space
The projects we provide lighting solutions for can require any of the above temperatures. At Computershare’s headquarters in Canton, MA, Fairbanks Energy installed 1,400 LED 2x2 LED lightingfixtures with a color temperature of 3500K, providing a comfortable work space for their employees. We chose this color temperature because the lighting level creates a welcoming and productive work environment for employees.
Color temperature is an aesthetic choice and you may have your own preference for each setting and application. With the advancements made with modern LED lighting, we can choose an energy efficient solution for your facility, office space or any work environment that enhances the atmosphere you want to create.
Originally published on February 16, 2017
Last updated on 03/17/2020
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