All You Need to Know about Colour Temperature – and How to Adjust it for Optimum Lighting
To many individuals, light is just light. But as simplistic as this view is, it’s not really accurate. For instance, the light coming from the overhead lights in your place of work is not quite the same as the light which comes from your ceiling lights at home. This light is not the same as the one that comes from your lamp, either.
The reason for this is actually simple: different lighting sources can produce an array of colour temperatures. Incandescent lighting produces a different colour temperature from fluorescent lighting, for example. And this difference in colour temperature can make a big impact in how your home or business looks and feels. Here, then, is all you need to know about colour temperature – and how you can adjust it for optimum lighting in your home or business environment.
The basics first: how does it work?
In order for you to fully understand how important the right colour temperature is and how to maximise it to your full benefit, you first need to understand how it actually works. The concept behind colour temperature is not that easy to decipher, mind you – but with a few specific examples, you can perhaps get a better idea of its purpose and functionality.
First, picture an object such as an incandescent bulb’s filament. It’s black when it is not lit up, but once it is lit and begins heating up, the filament starts to glow red, then it turns yellow, begins changing to white, and then shows different blue hues as it becomes hotter. The different temperatures of this filament, when measured based on the Kelvin temperature scale, can vary depending on the wavelength of the light. At the very least, you would have about 1800K (Kelvin), which is akin to the orange-red light produced by a candle or match. At the extreme end of the spectrum, around 15,000 Kelvin, you have the same degree of light as that of a clear, cloudless sky.
In lighting, there are some specific terms such as cool white, warm white, and so on, which you are probably already familiar with. Most lighting used for commercial purposes can fall between approximately 2,000 Kelvin to 6,000 Kelvin, but there are two main colour temperature degrees or levels which are the most common – this is 2,700 Kelvin (often referred to as warm or soft white), and 4,000 Kelvin, which is often referred to as bright white, neutral white or more commonly cool white.
When we speak about warm or soft white, it’s more of a warm, cosy light, most aptly used in homes. Bright white or cool white, on the other hand, is more seen in business settings, such as offices, factories and supermarkets, as it is most suitable for tasks such as working and reading.
Keep in mind that when someone says ‘warm’ or ‘cool,’ it doesn’t refer to the temperature of the light – it simply refers to the aesthetic feel of the light.
How colour temperature can work for your own environment
So how does colour temperature affect your own environment and its ambience? Well, if you’ve ever had to replace an old incandescent light with a fluorescent light, you will immediately notice that the fluorescent light seems to be so cold, and you’ll notice how dull and ugly it makes the room look. Even the colour of a wall can change depending on the light source – a wall under a 3,200 Kelvin light can look white, whilst a wall under a 4,000 Kelvin light source can look drab and green. This is one major reason why experts and lighting designers will often tell you to install different lighting elements as well as choose your lights before you decide to paint a room and furnish it.
Some expert recommendations
Most experts would agree that lights which can mimic daylight (those which are between 5,000 Kelvin and 6,500 Kelvin) are becoming more and more popular in many rooms. If you are looking for lights to be used for certain tasks, such as reading, go for daylight temperatures since they provide a good contrast to the black font on off-white or white paper seen in books. Daylight temperature bulbs are also a good option for bathrooms since it makes it easier for people to perform tasks such as shave or apply makeup. Cool white bulbs also work great at ‘waking you up’ in the morning, making you more alert to face the day ahead.
If you are looking to transform your home with the right colour temperature, you can first choose the colour temperature you prefer. If you prefer warm light (which most people do), you can install these types of lights in every room. As a result, the lighting in your home will look more uniform. Alternatively, you can also make use of warm light for areas like your dining room, living area, hallway, and bedrooms, whilst you can use cool light for areas in which more meticulous tasks are performed, such as the kitchen, the bathroom, and the garage. Task lights (such as lamps for reading) can benefit greatly from daylight or cool white lighting.
But if you really want to transform your home and make it easier on yourself, you should definitely take advantages of the many benefits of LEDs. LED lights are perfect for the layering of colour in your home, and you can make use of special LED lights which are colour temperature adjustable. These types of lights are known as CCT adjustable, CCT stands for correlated colour temperature.
CCT adjustable lights have the ability to change colour temperatures either with a remote control or with a wall switch. They are available as recessed downlights or as LED tapes.
CCT LED strips often allow you to adjust the colour temperature from as little as 2,700 Kelvin to as much as 6,500 Kelvin, and everything else in between. The version we stock features 120 LEDs for every metre, and they’re perfect if you want to adjust the ambience or atmosphere of a room to meet a particular function, such as performing tasks or according to the time of day.
With CCT LED strips or downlights, you can easily transform a room’s look and vibe, and you don’t have to install a number of bulbs in strategic areas – often, just a single tape for a room will do. Then you can set it to the ‘setting’ you prefer – whether you want to relax, concentrate, perform a task, read, and more.
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