LED Lighting: Choosing the Right Color Temperature

Updated on April 3, 2019
Various color temperatures from 2700K to 6500K.
Various color temperatures from 2700K to 6500K. | Source

Color Temperature of a Light Source: What Is iI?

You are most likely familiarized with concepts such as voltage and wattage, even if you don't work in the electrical industry. We all know that if an electric device is connected to an outlet of the wrong voltage there is a risk of malfunction or permanent damage, and we also know that devices that consume more watts tend to increase the monthly electric bill!

Color temperature, however, is a frequently overlooked concept. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with the real operating temperature of lamps and actually describes the color of the light produced.

In simple terms, color temperature can be defined as the temperature to which you would have to heat up a black body to make it glow with the corresponding color of light. For example, if a light source has a color temperature of 4000 degrees Kelvin, it means the light it produces has the same color that would result from the glow of a black body at 4000 K. It is an abstract concept, but it provides a convenient way to assign a numerical value to the color of light.

Low color temperatures indicate tones that tend towards red and yellow, while high color temperatures tend towards blue. The following image demonstrates the concept perfectly:

Color Temperature of Light Bulbs
Color Temperature of Light Bulbs | Source

The Right Color Temperature for Each Application

One of the characteristics of LED lighting is that you can find lamps of practically any color that can be imagined. You will save a lot of energy if you upgrade to LED, but also make sure the color temperature is adequate.

There is a wide range of color temperatures, and some LED bulbs can even adjust it within a broad range, but the general characteristics and applications of each color temperature are the following.

Warm White (Around 2700 K)

Warm white light creates an inviting and relaxing atmosphere, and it is the type of lighting you will want to use in the following applications:

  • Bedrooms/hotel rooms
  • Restaurants
  • Decorative purposes

Warm white light is unsuitable for locations where work is carried out, since it may reduce alertness and productivity.

Clear White (Around 4000 K)

This is a neutral tone of white, suitable for environments where productive activities will be carried out, such as:

  • Classrooms
  • Office spaces
  • Kitchens

Cool White (Up to 6500 K)

This is a tone of white that has a "cool" appearance and a slight tinge of blue. It is used for applications where maximum visibility is the highest priority, such as:

  • High precision work
  • Outdoor area lighting
  • Bathrooms

You will definitely want to avoid cool white light in your bedroom, since it will tend to delay sleepiness at night.

Color temperature scale.
Color temperature scale. | Source

Color-Adjustable Lighting

One of the great features of LED lighting is that lamps can be designed to operate over a range of color temperatures. Philips Hue is a great example of this technology, as you can see in the following video.


Color temperature is a very important factor to consider when selecting lighting fixtures, since it can either enhance or disrupt the environment you are trying to create. Before purchasing LED fixtures for an energy efficiency retrofit, make sure you verify the correct color temperature for each application.

Alternatively, you can go for a color-adjustable LED solution, and configure the lighting in your house to provide any color temperature you desire.

Using the Right Color Temperature

Do you have trouble sleeping when you have been exposed to cool white light before going to bed?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • AISLED profile image


      16 months ago

      I like the warm white color for my bedroom, Am I right?



    • Sparrowlet profile image

      Katharine L Sparrow 

      4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Aha! Found your article about the color temp! I had not realized there were three types of white LED light. Sounds like I would do well to stay away from the cool white, since the bluish tinge bothers me. I will look for clear white for my desk lamp. Thank-you!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)