Lighting Guide: Colour temperature

When buying a light bulb, it is important to choose a colour temperature that suits your preference, space or application.

Not to be confused with Lumens (which measures the brightness) or Watts (the rate of power consumption), colour temperature is measured in Kelvin and refers to the colour tint of the white light emitted.

White light is usually not pure white, and often has a tint of blue or yellow to it. A cool white light bulb appears bluer, while a warm white light bulb has a tint of yellow.

In units, warm light generally ranges from 2700-3300K, while cool light is 3300-5300K. Anything greater than 5300K is classified as daylight.

In the past, colour temperature was not a big consideration when purchasing a light bulb as there were limited options available. Today, however, there is quite a range of colour temperatures to choose from, and it is helpful to know the differences before you buy a light bulb.

It is important to choose the right colour temperature of lights as it has quite an effect on the entire feel or mood of the space. More importantly, it can determine the effectiveness of tasks in certain rooms, such as kitchens, study rooms and offices.

How to choose the right colour temperature?

Warm white lights are great for creating a relaxing and cosy atmosphere. The yellow or orange tint to the white light has an effect that is similar to incandescent or halogen lighting, and so warm lights are often found in bedrooms, living areas, cafes and restaurants.

Cool white lights, on the other hand, have a higher intensity and are better suited for places where higher concentration or visibility is required. As such, it is commonly used in studies, offices, hospitals and other industrial settings.

A quick recommendation guide:

2700 - 3300K Living rooms, bedrooms, cafes, any areas that need to be atmospheric
3300 - 5000K Bathrooms, kitchens, offices, factories, other task-oriented spaces
5000K and above This is close to natural sunlight, and is a good option for rooms without windows, such as laundry rooms, basements or cellars

Some tips to remember:

  • You should stay away from cool lights in bedside lamps, as the blue tint can make it harder to fall asleep
  • Be careful not to put lights of different colour temperature together, as they can clash and cause the space to feel incongruent
  • When possible, all downlights in one ceiling should have consistent colour temperatures
  • Consider having one colour temperature for ceiling lights, and another warmer one for table and floor lamps, so that you can have two options for different occasions

Can’t decide? Go for Tri Colour or Smart LED lights

If it feels daunting to have to choose just one colour temperature and stick to it forever, try Tri Colour LED lights or Smart lights. These allow you to change the colour temperature any time, either through a switch on the light itself or via an app on your smartphone.

The Apollo TRI Colour LED Downlight comes with a switch at the side that allows you to select different colour temperatures: 3000K, 4000K, or 5000K. It is also a dimmable light, and is suitable for low ceiling space installation.

The Brilliant Smart LED CCT 4.5w GU10 Globe 400 Lumens has a wider range of tuneable colour temperature, from 2700K to 6500K. It is dimmable via the BrilliantSmart app or voice control through Amazon Alexa or Google Home. You can also use the app to control the globe, and create schedules or automated timing to light your home.

To find out more about Tri Colour and Smart LED lights, or if you need assistance on deciding the best colour temperatures for your space, just drop by our stores or contact our team.