light color temperatures

- Jul 25, 2019-

The scale and values that designers apply to give objective ratings to lighting temperatures, however, is contrary to expectations that a warmer temperature will have a higher value.

The lighting design industry rates light color temperatures on a “Kelvin” scale with values between 1000 and 6000K. Warmer lighting sensations that come from light sources like candles will have color temperatures of about 1000K, whereas harsh blue or white colored light will have values near 6000K. Thus, warmer light sources have lower color temperatures and cooler light sources have higher temperatures. These values have no correlation with the actual physical temperature of the light source, but instead refer only to how observers perceive the light in any particular environment. Further, the color temperature of a light source should not be confused with its relative brightness, which is measured in lumens.

Home environments will benefit from a blend of different light color temperatures. Bedrooms and other spaces that are intended to be relaxing environments, for example, will benefit from warmer color temperatures. Alternately, kitchens and work areas will be better served by cooler color temperatures that create well-lit environments to improve visibility and perception of details. These different environments show that a home is best served by a blend of different lighting and that no single lighting color temperature will be ideal for every part of the home.

Older homes with traditional incandescent fixtures and portable lamps had few options other than dimmer switches to change the color temperature of lighting in particular spaces. New LED bulbs and lighting systems are giving color temperature control back to the homeowner with fixtures and controls that can alter color temperatures with maximum versatility. Color-tunable LED lighting is the state-of-the-art technology for this purpose. That lighting gives homeowners the option of dim-to-warm tuning that mimics the dimming capabilities of traditional incandescent lighting. An alternate class of LED lighting gives homeowners the option of white color tuning, which retains white light characteristics through a color temperature range of between 2500K and 5000K.  

Full color-tunable LED lights are the newest and most advanced option. These lights blend several different base LED’s into a single lamp. That lamp can then generate light with color temperatures that can be varied in both white and colored-light spectrums. Full color-tunable LED’s might be overkill in a traditional home design, and would more likely be better suited for modern architecture. In the final analysis, however, lighting color temperature choices will always be in the hands of the homeowner. Rather than forcing one color or a narrow range of lighting colors on a homeowner, LED lighting is versatile enough to give every homeowner more lighting color options than were ever previously available.