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LED Light Bulb Color Temperature Explained - LED University by EagleLight

EagleLight's LED University: Color Temperature & Kelvin Explained

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Definition of LED Color Temperature


In this installment EagleLight's LED University explains what "color temperature" means.
LED color temperature measures the color of an LED light bulb. It defines the amount of pure white, yellow, red and blue in a light. Another way to think of the color temperature is how 'warm' or 'cool' is the white LED light bulb.
Color temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin and is a measure of the part of the color spectrum that is found in light.
A simple way to think about this is to compare the light from the sun from sunrise to sunset. At noon the light is bright and white, even more so nearer the equator. At sunrise and sunset the light takes on a more yellow or even red tint. Lower color temperatures will have more yellow, and higher color temperatures will go from yellow, to pure white and eventually to bluish, like you might find on some of the blue tinted headlights on cars.

Examples of Color Temperature

The following table offers a broader example of the types of color temperature:
Color Temp Example of source
1900K Candle light or sunlight at sunrise or sunset
2000K - 2700K Often used as accent lighting to blend in with fluorescent 2700K applications.
3000K - 3200K Used as a primary light source for retail applications.
3700K Coated lamps. Used where a "softer" metal halide light source is desired.
4000K Used in general lighting; factories: parking lots, warehouses
5000K - 5500K Daylight lamps: horticulture, aquariums, high color definition.
5600K Nominal sunlight (mid day during mid summer)
6000K Starts to get a blue tint like some automotive headlights

EagleLight use of LED Color Temperature

To simplify the selection of LED light bulb color temperatures EagleLight uses the following definitions for various color temperatures:
  • Warm White: typically from 2600 Kelvin to 3500 Kelvin
  • Natural White: typically from 4000 Kelvin to 4500 Kelvin
  • Daylight White: typically from 5000 Kelvin to 5500 Kelvin
  • Commercial or Cool White: typically above 6000 Kelvin

For the scientists: The Color Temperature Scale defines the spectral distribution of the light source. It is measures in degrees Kelvin, where Kelvin is equal to the Celsius temperature minus 273 degrees. The Kelvin Color Temperature is the light emitted from a black body energy source at that given temperature. For more information, open pop-up here.

EagleLight names for Color Temperature


White LEDs are available in many levels of Kelvin color temperature. The descriptions used in this site for color temperature typically conform to the following:
Name of White Kelvin Color Temp. Comparable to a:
Warm White 2700-3500 Kelvin typical incandescent light bulb
Natural White 4000-4500 Kelvin typical retail space ‘white’ fluorescent lighting
Day / Daylight White 5000-6000 Kelvin used for high color definition - typical noon day sun in many parts of the world
Cool / Commercial White 6000-7000 Kelvin used in many industrial and commercial applications like hospitals

Color temperature is an aesthetic choice, so each person will have their own preference for each setting and application. Preference is as individual and varied as there are applications and people. Here is what we have found to be generally true, but in no true for all people.
  • Warmer Whites are preferred for dining and living areas and reception areas where you want a more relaxed environment.
  • Natural Whites are preferred for kitchens and bathrooms where tasks are performed.
  • Daylight Whites are best in retail outlets and offices, though natural whites are used in these environments as well.
  • Cool Whites are used for industrial areas and hospitals.

Older eyes often times see better in cooler color temperatures. Women often prefer warmer colors than men. Task lighting is better if cooler. Cooler whites raise attention. Warmer whites soften the environment and make for a more relaxed space. Warmer whites will hide the true color of objects and add yellow tint.
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