Ah, color temperature. Just one of the quantitative factors of light that plays an essential role in how we feel in our homes. Let this quick overview of color temperature help you determine the best lighting for each room in your home.
What is color temperature?
Color temperature is a measure used to describe the visual appearance and whiteness of a light source. Just like natural sunlight has many shades, artificial lighting also comes in many shades of white. These are a light's color temperature, represented as degrees Kelvin (˚K).
You'll find the color temperature range of most light bulbs falls between 2700K and 6500K.
The lower the Kelvin temperature, the "warmer" or more yellow the light, getting "cooler" and whiter as the Kelvin temperature increases.
Therefore, of the above range 2700K-6500K, 2700K represents a warmer light, and 6500K, a bright white light.
Standard color temperatures in the home
2700-3000˚K (Warm White)
3800-4500˚K (Natural White)
5000-6000˚K (Cool White)
The best color temperatures for each room of your home
Each color temperature has an aesthetic and energetic effect on a room. When deciding the best color temperature for each room in your home, most recommendations result from the mood or ambiance you'd like to create.
Pro tip: cooler color temperatures promote energy + alertness, while warmer color temperatures promote feelings of rest + coziness.
These general effects form the basis of all recommendations. Therefore, keep in mind your intended room application and use. For example, using your living room as an office space would warrant a different color temperature suggestion than using your living room as a bedroom!
With that in mind, here are some color temperature ranges that work well:
We can probably all agree a softer, warmer light is a better choice in the bedroom than a very white and stimulating light.
Limiting exposure to blue, bright light (in the form of screens and light bulbs) is crucial at night in preparation for bedtime. If you need help winding down in the evening, try neodymium glass light bulbs, which will have more more red in their spectrum.
Living Room: 3800-4500K
Natural white is a typical choice here. It's a soft and neutral range that works well in "neutral" spaces like living rooms.
Similar to our living room recommendation, yet a bit warmer. We find this range to be both soothing and natural.
A higher natural white range works well here. 4000K is more neutral, while 5000K will give off a whiter, brighter, and "cleaner" effect.
Still natural yet white enough to promote alertness.
Same color temperature; different light: other qualitative factors to look out for in lighting
Two light bulbs can have the same color temperature while varying tremendously in appearance.
Now that you have a base guideline on color temperature let's explore a few other descriptive elements of light bulbs of which you should be aware.
Lumens: The brightness of the light emitted by a bulb. While wattage describes a bulb's energy draw, lumen count better describes how much light a bulb emits, or, simply put: how bright the bulb is.
CRI (color rendering index): This measure is most indicative of a light's quality. CRI is a measure on a scale of 1 to 100 of how accurately a light source shows colors compared to natural sunlight (which has a CRI rating of 100).
A light bulb with a CRI above 90 is considered good, and above 95, excellent for color vibrancy and a more natural-looking interior. Stay away from CRI ratings below 85, which have a dulling effect on surroundings.
Color temperature is a subjective measure best chosen according to your intended application and aesthetic preferences, but don't let the search end there. Choose high CRI bulbs in your intended color temperature range for the best lighting experience.
Remember, while two bulbs with a 4200K color temperature give off a similar color of light, one can be brighter yet duller than the other if it has a higher lumen count yet lower CRI.
Thanks for reading! We live and breathe natural, beautiful lighting.
Now more than ever, our homes are our sanctuaries. With this in mind, think about what you want to feel like in each room of your home.
If you're here, we're going to assume you take pride in beautiful environments- lighting included! If you're looking for the most beautiful home lighting, check out Chromalux® full-spectrum lamps. The original light bulbs for health and wellness that instantly make a home colorful and inviting. Regardless of color temperature!
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