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Guide To Lighting Colour Temperature

What is Colour Temperature?

Color temperature describes how warm or cool a white light is, as seen by the human eye. When a light has orange and yellow tones it is called warm white, when it is neutral it is called cool white, and when it gives off slightly blue tones it is called daylight. The image below shows the differences in shades between colour temperatures.

Shades in colour temperature

How is Colour Temperature Measured?

Colour temperature is measured in Kelvin and can be anywhere between 1000K and 10000K - with residential and commercial lighting generally falling between 2000K to 6500K. The ranges of warm white, cool white and daylight are subjective, so we are using the definitions given by the Lighting Council of Australia as follows:
  • Warm White: 2600K to 3200K
  • Cool White: >3200K to 4500K
  • Daylight: >4500K
The two images below show how the different lights look.

Colour temperature range

Colour temperature bulbs

The image below focuses in on residential and commercial lights.

Colour temperature range

How Can Colour Temperature be Used?

Colour temperature can be used to subtly enhance certain elements of your rooms and are suitable for specific areas.
Warm White (2600K to 3200K) is best used in living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and hallways to provide a relaxed effect.
Cool White (3200K to 4500K) is best used in areas where clear, natural, fresh lighting is required for example in kitchens, studies, bathrooms, offices (for alertness), workshops, supermarkets and retail outlets.
Daylight (>4500K) is best used in areas where you want a very bright effect, typically in industrial applications, hospitals and security lights.