LED Light Color Temperature Guide
The importance of lighting in interior design is considerable — attractive lighting helps create an inviting setting. When you’re choosing LED lighting for a new home, or as an upgrade to an existing one, practicality and reliability may be two of the many advantages that come to mind. But you can also use different LED lighting temperatures to change the atmosphere of various rooms. This versatility allows you to tailor specific areas of the house for different homeowner preferences and needs.
How can you use LED lighting temperatures to their fullest advantage? In the guide below, as we discuss different LED temperature meanings, we’ll explain how to use lighting to change a room and how to create an ambient theme with lighting.
Jump to Sections:
- Why Choose LED Lighting?
- Understanding LED Color Temperatures for the Home
- Applications for Different Color Temperatures
- Choosing the Right LED Light Fixture for Your Space
- Why Choose WAC Lighting for Your LED Lighting?
Why Choose LED Lighting?
Here’s a closer look at some of the numerous benefits LED lighting offers for the home.
1. Energy Efficiency
LED lighting provides exceptional energy efficiency, with residential LEDs being 75% more efficient than incandescent bulbs. Traditional incandescent lights lose much of their energy as heat. LED lighting loses extremely minimal amounts of energy as heat. Almost all of its energy goes into generating the light you see. They can help homeowners conserve money on their utility bills and feel good about their homes’ low environmental impact.
LED lights typically last up to 25 times longer than their incandescent counterparts. A standard incandescent bulb burns out after several months of regular use and requires replacement. Our LED lights can last for up to 15 to 20 years with standard usage, so homeowners will experience the convenience of not having to stand on ladders and replace bulbs.
3. Low Waste
The two advantages listed above combine to make LEDs appealing, low-waste options for homes. Because LED lights are so efficient, they waste very little energy. And because they last for years, they won’t result in dead bulbs that go into the garbage and pile up in landfills. With LED lights as part of their interior decor, homeowners can feel good about the eco-friendliness of their home and the minimal waste they generate.
Traditional incandescent lights are made from glass, which shatters easily. LED lights are much more resilient because they are made from epoxy lenses. They are more durable and can resist cracking and breaking.
LED lights provide excellent peace of mind in terms of home safety. Traditional incandescent bulbs burn hot and often present a fire hazard. If other objects get too close to the bulbs, they can catch fire. Since LED lights generate minimal heat, they are much safer to use in the home.
Well-chosen LED lighting fixtures can create a certain mood or enhance a room’s theme. You can choose warmer LED lights to create a cozy, romantic atmosphere, or you can choose cooler, crisp white light for tasks in kitchen prep areas, laundry rooms and home offices. You can choose colored or color changing outdoor lights to create a festive mood or calm, dimmable indoor lighting for a more intimate feel.
7. Human-Centric Lighting
LED lighting puts people’s wants and needs first. Whereas fluorescent lights are cooler and more energy-efficient than incandescent lights, they’re also not very user-friendly. Many people who spend time around fluorescent lights complain about their harsh glow and impersonal, institutional feel. The qualities of LED lights appeal aesthetically to the human eye while still offering a wealth of environmental and safety benefits.
8. Smart Features
Many LED lighting solutions come with smart features to make homeowners’ lives more convenient. Some LED lights are part of the Internet of Things (IoT). They interface with the internet to allow users to control their lighting either directly or automatically. For instance, they can adjust the temperature controls or set the dimming and brightening features to correspond to the users’ sleep patterns.
9. Overall Quality
LED lights offer exceptionally high quality. We’ve already discussed how they can last for many years. In addition, LED light fixtures from a quality manufacturer feature top-of-the-line craftsmanship and state-of-the-art technology that outshines industry competitors. They seldom break down, require very little maintenance and keep homes safely lit with enjoyable light.
Understanding LED Color Temperatures for the Home
How does lighting change the mood of a room? Understanding LED lighting starts with understanding color temperature and atmosphere. Let’s discuss some of the different LED light temperatures, what they signify for a room’s mood and how they are best suited for different uses throughout the home.
Correlated Color Temperature
The color appearance of lights is known as correlated color temperature (CCT) and is typically measured in Kelvins (K) rather than degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius. The higher end of the CCT spectrum is cooler, sharper light. The lower end of Kelvin is softer, warmer light. You can tell how warm or cool your LED lights will be by looking at the CCT rating in Kelvins.
What’s The Color Temperature of an LED?
LED lights typically range from about 1650K at the warmest to about 6000K at the coolest. A CCT of 1800K to 2700K is generally desirable for a warm glow. A CCT of 4500K or lower usually looks crisp white, whereas a CCT of above 4500K or 5000K typically looks cooler white to blue. A traditional incandescent bulb typically has a relatively low CCT of around 2700K — this light is agreeably soft and warm. Bright white sunlight has a CCT of closer to 5500K.
Some homeowners may say that they don’t like the cooler, crisper look of LED lights and prefer the softer, warmer glow of traditional incandescent light. The issue may be that they’ve previously encountered LED lighting with a very high CCT. To mimic the cozy radiance of incandescent lighting while retaining the benefits of LED lights, you’ll sometimes want to choose LED lights with lower CCTs.
Color Rendering Index
Another rating manufacturers often use to give information about the quality of their lights is the color rendering index (CRI). CRI refers to how accurately a given light source shows color as compared with natural light. An LED light with a low CRI makes it very difficult to distinguish color — a fiery vermilion dress and a dark maroon tie might both appear the same shade of muted red. An LED light with a high CRI acts much more like natural light and makes it easy to distinguish similar hues.
LEDs with high CRI are the lights you’ll want to choose to make the lighting in a new home as natural and human-friendly as possible. The CRI scale runs from 0 to 100, with an incandescent bulb or natural light featuring a perfect score of 100. Choosing LEDs at the high end of the scale — at least 80, and sometimes 90 or higher for detail-oriented tasks — will make your clients much happier.
Applications for Different Color Temperatures
Different applications around the home call for different temperatures of light. Below are a few of those applications and the temperature ranges most suited to them:
1. Ambient Lighting
Ambient lighting — such as the lighting from a central overhead fixture or several recessed ceiling lights — covers an entire room. It helps people see and orient themselves.
Because ambient light is essential for everyday human functions, it needs to be relatively bright, warm and clear. Warm ambient light often has a CCT at the lower end of the range — between 2700K and 3000K. Bright white light at these levels still helps people see clearly and navigate a home safely, and its warmth helps create a cozy, relaxing atmosphere.
In some rooms, you’ll want to rely on warmer lights for your ambient lighting. In bathrooms, you’ll likely want to choose lighting that has a CCT of about 3400K to 4000K. Natural sunlight has a CCT of about 5500K, so approaching that figure with your bathroom lighting means it will give people a good reflection of how they’ll appear when they’re out and about.
Studies and home offices may benefit from cooler light as well. Whereas the warmest light feels cozy and relaxing, cooler light tends to have a more energizing effect. Using lights with CCTs of about 3000K to 4000K can help create a focused atmosphere that optimizes work or study time.
2. Task Lighting
Task lighting illuminates a defined area to show sharp detail and facilitate work. A reading light that shines on the pages of a book or magazine is an example of task lighting, and so is the concentrated light over a kitchen counter, workbench or makeup table.
For task lighting, you want to choose a CCT that helps emphasize focus and clarity by creating a useful contrast between itself and the warmer ambient lighting. Task lighting should generally fall between about 3000K and 5000K.
Choosing the correct CRI for task lighting is also vital. Doing precise work like web design, preparing food, applying makeup or sewing often requires seeing colors well, so task lighting should have a CRI as close to 100 as possible — generally at least 90 or above.
3. Accent Lighting
Accent lighting complements the ambient lighting in a room or outdoors. It is useful for highlighting objects such as artwork, architectural features, houseplants or clothes hanging in a closet. Accent lighting often uses recessed lighting or track lighting to create a contrast with the ambient lighting.
With accent lighting, you’ll often want to choose a different CCT from that of the room’s ambient light — say a cooler CCT to contrast with warm ambient light. Accent lighting used outdoors typically has a range of CCTs — warmer lights of about 2700K are typical for highlighting architectural features, though cooler lighting is ideal for security because of its increased clarity. Cooler lighting with a CCT of about 4000K is useful for spotlighting plants in the evening and at night. This CCT mimics the CCT of natural moonlight and creates a pleasing silvery-white glow.
4. Decorative Lighting
Decorative lighting is similar to accent lighting, but instead of highlighting certain objects, it creates visually appealing patterns or contrasts of light to enhance a home’s atmosphere. Decorative lighting often comes from chandeliers or wall sconces that generate unique, beautiful light for ambiance rather than utility. Homeowners can also use brightly glowing decorative lights outdoors around the holidays or year-round to create spectacular colored patterns.
As with accent lighting, decorative lighting can range across the CCT spectrum. You may want to choose warmer lighting to create a cozy, candlelit feeling or a crisp white light for accomplishing tasks such as laundry or preparing foods.
Choosing the Right LED Light Fixture for Your Space
Choosing the right LED light fixture for the space you’re working on can be quick, fun and convenient. At WAC, we offer a variety of fixture styles, so you’ll find it easy to find lighting for any space in a home, whether indoors or outdoors:
- Ceiling lights: Our ceiling light fixtures provide beautiful, warm or cool ambient light for any style of room or space. Choose from standard indoor pendants, mini pendants, chandeliers, cove lighting, beauty spots and closet lighting, among a variety of other attractive options, to complement a room’s style and design.
Ceiling light color temperature range: 2700k -5000k
- Wall fixtures: Our wall light fixtures also provide quality ambient lighting for the walls of a home. Choose from indoor sconces, bathroom sconces, vanity lights, wall lights, swing-arm reading lights, picture lights, backlighting and display lights to provide practical lighting, accent different features and coordinate with varying room styles.
Wall fixture color temperature range: 2700K – 3000K
- Recessed lighting: Our recessed light fixtures offer more discreet, softer lighting. Choose from our downlight collections, multiple recessed lights or linear recessed lights to generate unobtrusive illumination from ceilings or walls.
Recessed lighting color temperature range: 2700K – 4000K
- Tape: Tape lighting is perfect for providing continuous accent or cove illumination along a ceiling or wall. Select white light for a neutral glow or color-changing LED tape to add festive personality.
Tape lighting color temperature range: 2700K – 4000K
- Track lighting: Track lighting is essential for providing constant, even lighting throughout a room or hallway. Select from a variety of styles, including track heads, track pendants, rail systems, monopoints and complete kits.
Track lighting color temperature range: 2700K – 4000K
- Under-cabinet lighting: If a space like a kitchen or medical office contains cabinets, under-cabinet lighting is useful for providing task lighting in those areas. Select from strip and tape lights, bar lights, edge-lit task lights, button lights and lights designed specifically for health care applications.
Under-cabinet lighting color temperature range: 2700K-3500K
- Outdoor lighting: To make outdoor spaces better lit and more secure, enhance them with our outdoor lighting fixtures. Styles such as outdoor sconces, in-ground lighting, outdoor step and wall lighting, path lights and bollards boost the aesthetic appeal of a home’s exterior and provide extra security and safety.
Outdoor lighting color temperature range: 2700K-3500K
- Landscape lighting: To enhance a home’s landscape, try using landscape fixtures such as spotlight accents, floodlights, bollards, path lights, LED tape, color-changing lights and even underwater lights. These light fixtures add colorful allure and spotlight a home’s best landscaping features.
Landscape lighting color temperature range: 2700K-3000K
- STRUT lighting: To see the benefits of smart features and on-the-go customizability in your lighting fixtures, try the new STRUT system. Our STRUT lighting comes in a variety of models, including recessed, suspended and surface lighting. These fixtures come equipped with central processing units (CPUs) that allow them to incorporate smart features such as dimming. It’s also easy to alter their configuration to adapt to changing day and night or seasonal lighting needs. STRUT is an innovative lighting, power and control system complete with lighting elements designed for discriminating technical performance. STRUT incorporates direct and indirect illumination, wall wash, downlighting, accent lighting, and pendants utilizing connected control technologies to give clients a personalized and modular experience.
STRUT lighting color temperature range: 2700K – 4000K
Why Choose WAC for Your LED Lighting?
When you’re choosing lighting for a new project, you need to understand the color themes behind LED light fixtures and be confident that your LED lighting will perform reliably and efficiently. Partnering with WAC Lighting gives you the peace of mind knowing you’ll gain those advantages and help home buyers create the houses of their dreams. Our trending LED and IoT technology enables you to stay on top of the business and provide the best for your clients.
Contact us today to learn more.