What are kelvin temperature LED light bulbs?

Many of our customers ask us questions about the kelvin temperature of the light bulbs they wish to order. There seems to be confusion about what daylight LED bulbs are and when they should be used. Due to the nature of LED production many LEDs seem to sku to the cooler color temperatures compared with standard incandescent bulbs. Other customers prefer warmer tone bulbs and we will try to briefly explain the difference.

Kelvin temperature is generally defined as the color that the light source emits. At far opposing spectrums; light colors range from white to blue and red and more. We have all seen different color light bulbs. However even within the white color spectrum different light bulbs can range from yellower/orange white to bluer white. These different hued white lights will affect the color of the space from warmer or yellower tones to the cooler, icier blue tones. The example I like to use with clients is the multiple white paint chips you can find at the hardware store are similar to the multiple white hues you can find with different types of light bulbs.

The kelvin temperature color rating scale ranges from a warmer 2700k up to 4100k known as cool white and 5100k known as daylight. When purchasing a light bulb you can view the specifications to see what the color temp is.

There is no set rule on which color is better. It depends on the ambiance, location and purpose of the light as well of the personality of the individual(s) using the space. As a general rule outdoor spaces do better with cooler colors closer to what is known as 5100k daylight and indoor spaces seem cozier with warmer or yellower tones in the 2700k range. More modern or art deco spaces with pastel colors seem to wash better with daylight colors as compared to more traditional spaces with deep reds and blues that pop nicer with warmer colored light bulbs.

Many people prefer daylight or cool white LEDs for task or commercial spaces such as offices, garages, undercabinet lighting applications because the light does seem crisper. Most home owners, hotel lobbies and retail stores will opt for the more intimate and personal warm colors. A nice middle ground that has become extremely popular with architects in new construction is the middle ground 3500k.

One popular misconception is that daylight bulbs give off more light. They generally do not give off more light but if a space seems dark it might help a bit to change to daylight bulbs. However this is only because the light does seem brighter to the human eye and seems to improve people’s perception of a space. Below is a picture of a model space with different color light bulbs. Warm is on the left, cool in the center and daylight on the right.

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