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Warm lighting vs cool lighting (2700K - 6500K) northerncult blog


Choosing the most suitable colour temperature for lighting (warm lighting vs cool lighting) is crucial. The colour temperature of your lights can help create the perfect atmosphere or mood for your desired area, whether it’s your home, office, or store. This blog will explore the differences between the colour temperatures, the impact they can have on a room or area, as well as suggested applications for each.

Light colour temperatures are measured in kelvins, which range from 2000K up to 6500K (thanks to the development of LEDs). The lower the kelvin of the light, the more yellow the light will appear. The higher the kelvin, the more white the light will appear.

Which One To Choose Warm Lighting Vs Cool Lighting

Color Temperature Chart (Warm lighting vs Cool lighting)

Aside from the type of 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, so let’s see the color temperature charts:

2700K-3000K (Warm Light):  Warm white gives off a soft white glow, often yellow in appearance; best for living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, and outdoor spaces

3500K-4500K (Natural White):  Natural White or Neutral white gives off a bright amount of white light; best for offices kitchens, workspaces, and vanities where task lighting is needed

5000K-6000K (Daylight White):  Daylight White 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 (Cool White):  Cool White 6500K kelvin gives off a bright bluish hue of light, often found in commercial locations; best for bright task lighting

Ambient Light Color Temperature

The ambient lighting in a room is typically the main source of light and therefore a key element in setting the overall mood and ambiance for a room. Warm white color 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 complement earthy tones and wood furniture.

If more than one type of ambient light is installed, e.g. downlights 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 natural 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 of 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 Temperature 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, The best color temperature for task lighting is 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?

WARM WHITE LIGHT : (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 and soft white is a friendly and clean light best for offices kitchen, bathrooms, workspaces, or garages; giving rooms a whiter, more energetic feel.


Light Color temperatures higher than 5000K 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;  The cool light is adequate for hospitals, good for reading, intricate projects, makeup rooms, and commercial spaces – provides the greatest contrast among colors.


The Psychological Impact of Light and Color

In warm lighting vs cool lighting, each color temperature is meant to use in specific areas, For example, In offices, anything below 3500K. It’s too yellow, and there is research behind it that will dissuade you from using it. The best light temperature for offices is between 3500 Kelvin and 5500 Kelvin. Anything above 5500K is just too blue and anything below 3500K will make your employees less productive.

You can check out a study about the effect of lighting on the Circadian Rhythm and why so many apps exist to control your screen color temperature so you can get a better night’s sleep. Essentially if your office has a color temperature that is too yellow, it signals everyone in the room to pass out, and I’m sure nobody wants an office full of sleepers (not sleeper cells, just sleeping, people).

so overall is 4000K light, flicker-free office lighting such as our seamless office light that comes in just about any color temperature (even the one that will put you to sleep!)

How lighting affects mood, health and productivity ?

While considering warm lighting vs cool lighting, the countless light fixtures that illuminate our world have different biological and psychological impacts on us, which is why it’s important to understand how lighting affects mood, health, and productivity.

The truth is, light tends to influence us more than other external stimuli. It has the power to impact sleep, happiness levels, and even cognitive performance. Therefore, humans need to be exposed to adequate lighting levels in the right settings at the right times of the day.

It’s proven that natural light tends to make people happier, but since we rely heavily on artificial light, it’s important for us to control the amount of it we need in multiple scenarios. Consider the following:

  • Light for day versus night: We usually need higher levels of light to operate during the day and lower levels when we’re winding down at night. Using bright lights at night usually decreases the body’s melatonin levels, essentially throwing off your internal clock and hindering sleep, cognition, hormone release times, blood pressure and glucose levels. When there is a lack of melatonin, people can experience sleep problems that lead to behavioral changes.
  • Blue light can make us feel more energetic and alert. (The most likely hue of light to impact our internal clocks.)
  • Red light is the least likely hue of light to impact our internal clocks. (This helps increase melatonin levels.)
  • Warm lighting creates a more relaxing and intimate setting.
  • White light is the most forgiving when it comes to personal appearance. (However, warm, yellow lighting is flattering to the skin)

FAQs about color temperature

Which is better warm light or cool light?

Both warm light and cool light are used based on the application, Warm white 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.

Cool White which is more than 5000K is bright and has a bluish daylight cast that can be harsh for home interiors. Cool white lights are typically used for commercial and hospital applications, as the light

What is the difference between warm light and cold light?

Warm white gives off a soft white glow, yellow in appearance, the color temperature range of 2700K - 3500K is referred to as warm white lights in general. Cold light or cool white lights are bright and has a bluish daylight cast that can be harsh for home interiors, but task lighting may be useful at 5000K and above.

Is warm light better for your eyes?

Warm has been proven effective in protecting the retinas of patients exposed to cool white light with excessive blue light since it offers the best contrast.

Is warm or cool light better for your sleep?

Warm light seems to relax us and help us wind down for the day, and get ready for sleep. While cool lighting helps us be alert and energetic for performing tasks, cool lighting in our evening spaces may interfere with our inner clock.
Krish Pandaran


Northerncult contributor, Lighting Engineer at GlobexGate Lighting, Dubai,