From the latest LED Lights to ever since Edison introduced us to the very first electric light bulb in 1879, we have seen everything in the same Soft White light color temperature, measured at 2700K (Degrees Kelvin). The light created by these bulbs has given off a slightly yellowish glow for over 130 years, making the colors in our homes feel warm and cozy the entire time.
While this might be nice in bedrooms and living rooms, what about other rooms? In spaces like bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and garages, it is often better to have truer white lights with an overall brighter feel that is better suited to activities like preparing food, applying makeup, and performing auto repairs.
The Range of Light Color Temperature
The Kelvin definition is “the SI base unit of thermodynamic temperature, equal in magnitude to the degree Celsius.” Scientific jargon aside, Kelvin is used in lighting to measure the color temperature of a particular light bulb. And in short, the higher the Kelvin rating (expressed in K), the whiter the light will be.
Light color temperature is represented in the unit of absolute temperature, Kelvin, noted by the symbol K. Household fixtures are commonly found in color temperatures on the Kelvin scale. The three primary types of color temperature for light bulbs are Warm White (2700K – 3000K), Natural White (3500K – 4100K), and Daylight (5000K – 6500K).
The higher the Degrees Kelvin, the whiter the light color temperature. Although the whiter lights will appear “brighter” than those of a lower Kelvin reading, the amount of Lumens (measurement for brightness) does not change, and true brightness is not affected.
Although our eyes have adjusted to the Soft White color temperature of incandescent bulbs over the years, this doesn’t mean that they are necessarily the best option for all lighting applications. For example, because of their warmer color temperature, these soft white lights often pull warmer colors from a room (reds, oranges, etc.), altering the contrasts throughout the space. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to light the different rooms in your home most effectively:
So let’s see how we can choose the best color temperature for our space, Below we will be going into detail about the different color temperatures and how we can choose the color temperature for our Ambient Lighting and Task Lighting.
LIGHT Color Temperatures
Aside from the type of the light bulb itself, using Kelvin temperature can also help guide you in determining which fixture is right for each room. Whether you need an ambient source of light or one for highly-focused task lighting, keep in mind the following Kelvin ranges:
Less than 2000K: gives off a dim glow of light, similar to what you might find from candlelight; best for low-light areas where ambient illumination is welcomed,
2000K-3000K: gives off a soft white glow, often yellow in appearance; best for living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and outdoor spaces
3100K-4500K: gives off a bright amount of white light; best for offices kitchens, work spaces and vanities where task lighting is needed
4600K-6500K: 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
6500K and up: 6500K kelvin gives off a bright bluish hue of light, often found in commercial locations; best for bright task lighting
Color Temperatures for Ambient Lighting
The ambient lighting in a room is typically the main source of light and therefore a key element in setting the overall mood and ambience for a room. Warm white lighting fixtures are often preferred in living rooms and bedrooms to create a cozy atmosphere. The kelvin numbers offered for LED lights are typically 2700K and 3000K. These warm white lights are a good choice to compliment earthy tones and wood furniture.
If more than one type of ambient light is installed, e.g. down lights and cove lighting, choose the same color temperature for both to ensure an even, harmonic effect. Though many people seem to prefer warm white, rooms that are decorated with light colored furniture and crisper colors, like white, blue and light grey e.g. in a modern kitchen, can benefit from a more neutral, cooler light.
Lighting with kelvin numbers in the range from 3500K to 4000K are considered neutral white and accentuate lighter colors better than warm white lights.
In addition, studies show that neutral and cool white light has an energizing effect on people, and is therefore are a good choice for home offices and studies. Since neutral and cool white light creates better contrast than warm white, they are also a good choice for the main ambient light in bathrooms.
The cooler light will provide a more realistic idea on what we look like in the real world. Look for kelvin numbers between 4000K and 5000K for your main ambient bathroom fixture.
If the bathroom features a bathtub and you want to be able to create a warm atmosphere as well, consider using an additional layer of light, e.g. a wall sconce with a warm white light in the range of 2700K that can be switched separately from the main light.
Color Temperatures for Task Lighting
Task lighting is used to provide an additional, higher level of light than the surrounding area where a visual task takes place. It is therefore important that the light is able to create good contrast, which is best achieved with a neutral to cool white in the 3500K to 5000K range.
Besides the color temperature the color rendering index (CRI) and brightness are particularly important for task lighting. While for ambient lighting a CRI of 80+ is often sufficient, for task lighting a CRI of 90 and above should be considered.
Food that gets prepared on a kitchen counter will look much more appealing when rendered well by the under cabinet light. A make up light with good color rendering will also paint a more realistic picture.
Light color temperature and where to use it
SOFT WHITE/WARM WHITE: (2700K, 3000K,3500K)
As said earlier, the lesser the Kelvin value the more yellowish our light will be. If we compare 3000K vs 2700K, the lower value will be more yellowish that is the 2700K, The Warm white color is best for family rooms, bedrooms, and living rooms; providing a traditional warm, cozy feel to them or any room that requires an intimate and personal mood.
NEUTRAL WHITE / BRIGHT WHITE / NATURAL WHITE: (4000K)
Neutral white or soft white is a friendly and clean light best for offices kitchen, bathrooms, workspaces, or garages; giving rooms a whiter, more energetic feel.
DAYLIGHT: (6000, 6500K)
The cool light is a adequate for hospitals, good for reading, intricate projects, makeup rooms and commercial spaces – provides the greatest contrast among colors.
Light Color temperatures higher than 3500K are typically used for commercial and hospital applications, as the light is bright and has a bluish daylight cast that can be harsh for home interiors; but task lighting may be useful at 4000K and above. When selecting new lighting for your home, be sure to take its color temperature into account to ensure you’re making the right choice