Choosing the Perfect Lighting Color Temperature

There once was a time, not so long ago, when the notion of fine-tuning color temperature was an impossible dream for the average consumer. However, as the cost of LED lighting continues to fall annually, choosing a specific color temperature has never been easier or more accessible. Changing color temperature can radically change the ambiance of a space, bringing unprecedented levels of interior design control to homes and businesses everywhere. But surprisingly, this new-found power can seem more like a burden for some. Whereas traditional bulbs typically provided little in way of light color options, LEDs can overwhelm the senses with a dazzling array of temperature colors to choose from. While ultimately much of one’s decisions for color temperature will come down to personal preference, there are several guidelines for when and where different temperatures are often used.

2700K-3000K “WARM WHITE”

Similar in coloration to traditional incandescent bulb lighting, this range of color temperatures exudes a comfy, warm aesthetic. Evoking subconscious comparisons to a warm fire, 2700-3000K lighting is perfect for environments designated for relaxation and entertainment. Warm white light perfectly compliments traditional materials, such as wood and brick, and blends well with warmly colored furniture and decorations.

3500K-4500K “COOL WHITE”

In contrast to warm white, cool white lighting does not appear similar to traditional yellow incandescent lighting. Instead, cool white lighting bathes its surroundings in a simple and neutral white light, with little in way of warm or cold colors. While warm white is reminiscent of evening, cool white light is more comparable to the lighting provided at midday. Appearing very modern and clean, this color is perfect for spaces wishing to appear productive and hygienic, such as offices and kitchens, but may trend a bit too sterile for environments designed to be more comforting.


Above 4900K, lighting will begin to display hints of a blue undertone, similar to the sky. It is from this comparison that daylight receives its popular name. Lighting in this range can be energizing and much like cool white lighting, is well suited for office spaces. Additionally, this color temperature is commonly used for places such as bathrooms, workshops, and industrial environments. Unlike warm white light which smooths and calms a space, daylight accentuates and sharpens details. Like cool white lighting, color temperatures in this range may be too harsh for areas meant for relaxation.

While there are other details and subtler aspects of lighting color temperature, these categories cover the basics and encapsulate the usage for three commonly used color temperature ranges.

Here at Yale Lighting, we understand that quality lighting design is important to create welcoming and functional spaces, both indoors and outdoors. That’s why we strive to provide our customers with the lighting of their dreams.  If you have any additional questions, or are interested in professional lighting design, feel free to contact us.