The transition from incandescent to fluorescent bulbs is significantly longer than the transition from fluorescent to LEDs. This is because of the many advantages offered by LED lighting such as energy efficiency, good CRI (Color Rendering Index), wide range of color temperatures and reasonably affordable. Color Temperature of a light source is an important parameter that determines the ‘tint’ of the light so that it can categorized as warm, cool, daylight etc. In this guide, let us take a look at the Color Temperature Chart for LED lighting.
What is Color Temperature?
A Pure or Perfect White Light Source can emit complete spectrum of wavelengths with even distribution. But if we transmit the same white light through a translucent surface or if reflect it off any surface, then the final light will miss some part of the spectrum.
We can observe the same in case of light bulbs which are often enclosed in a glass bulb or tube. A simple way to measure the tint of the light from its source is using Color Temperature, which is a theoretical relationship between the color of the light and the temperature of an object.
It might seem that Color and Temperature do not have any direct relationship, but if we dive into the physics of it, this combination makes more sense. The concept of Color Temperature is a result of Planck’s Black-Body radiation experiments. When we increase the temperature of a black body gradually, it glows in Red, Orange, Yellowish White, White and finally Bluish White.
Color Temperature of a light source is a measure of its color relative to a Black Body at a particular temperature in Kelvin (K). For a light source, which is often White, we measure its shade of white light on a temperature scale in Kelvin.
For example, an incandescent light bulb typically has a low color temperature of 2800K. But the color temperature of daylight is high, usually 5000K or more.
The following table lists out the color temperatures of some of the common light sources.
|Light Source||Color Temperature|
|Wax Candle||1500K – 2000K|
|60W/100W Incandescent Lamp||2400K – 2850K|
|Halogen Lamp||2800K – 3200K|
|Warm White Fluorescent Lamp||3000K|
|Cool White Fluorescent Lamp||4300K|
|True Daylight Fluorescent Lamp||6500K|
|Direct Sunlight||5700K – 6500K|
|Overcast Daylight||6500K – 7200K|
|Clear Blue Sky||8000K – 27000K|
Color Temperature Chart
The following image shows the Color Temperature Chart.
Using Color Temperature Chart
Different environments need different shades of light depending on the purpose, area, color of walls or ceiling, etc. Based on the above Color Temperature Chart, we can derive a basic lighting temperature system.
- 2200K – 2700K: This range produces a warm light. We can use this range of lighting in low-light areas where the ambient light is similar to that of an incandescent light.
- 3000K – 3500K: This range produces a soft white light. It is similar color temperature to that of halogen light.
- 4000K – 4500K: This range of lighting produces a bright white light. It is ideal for lighting an entire room with good light such as kitchens, offices, workspaces and other areas where detailed lighting is essential.
- 5000K and Above: This range of lighting produces a bright bluish white light, often used in commercial locations.
Color Temperature Recommendations for Home
If you are shopping for new LED lighting for your home, office or studio, then you have to choose between several options such as warm white, cool white, daylight, etc. Let us quickly see some color temperature recommendations for different rooms/spaces.
- Bedroom: A low warm light in bedrooms gives a relaxing atmosphere. Color temperature between 2700K and 3200K is best suitable for bedrooms.
- Bathroom: As we do a lot of detailed work in bathrooms such as cleaning, washing, shaving, applying makeup etc., a slightly brighter color temperature in the range of 3000K to 4200K is suitable.
- Living Room: Just like bedrooms, living rooms often provide an intimate space which we use it for entertainment such as watching TV, sports, games, entertaining friends and family. Here also the color temperature in the range of 2700K and 3200K is best suitable.
- Dining Room: A warmer light in dining room will create a good mood when you are eating. Color temperature between 2700K and 3200K is best suitable in dining room. Additionally, you can also install dimmers to change the brightness.
- Kitchen: Bright light is essential in kitchen as a well-lit area helps us easily preparing the food we love. Anything above 3000K is very good for kitchen settings.
- Office / Workspace / Garage: These spaces often require good lighting as we work for several hours or work on detailed objects. For a good workspace lighting, a color temperature of 4000K or more (but less than 5000K) is very suitable.
Color Temperature of LEDs is an important buying factor and almost all modern LED light bulbs come with accurate color temperature values printed on their packages. Choosing between Warm and Cool White is an old technique as we can precisely pick the right lighting using the color temperature. The Color Temperature Chart in this guide can be very helpful to understand the different color temperatures for different light sources.