The definition of Kelvin according to is the following:

“Thermodynamics. noting or pertaining to an absolute scale of temperature (Kelvin scale) in which the degree intervals are equal to those of the Celsius scale and in which absolute zero is 0 degrees Kelvin and the triple point of water has the value of approximately 273 degrees Kelvin.”

So now that we have defined a little bit on what color temperature is, let’s discuss the use of color temperature in different situations and applications.

kelvin temperature diagram

Lighting Color Temperature in Residential Areas

I think the goal behind lighting in the household is to function as a tool where you can accomplish what you are trying to do while maintaining the mood or decor of the environment. Most commonly recommended is a color temperature that is warmer and more inviting. This Kelvin temperature would be somewhere between 27000 – 3000 Kelvin. This stems from the imitation of color from the incandescent light; That is, the first lamp or light bulb to be commonly placed in every house. Here at PRO Lighting, we have seen product returns and not happy homeowners who have bought lighting with too high of a color range in the 4000 Kelvin. The sole reason being is it gave off the wrong mood or vibe.

When you think of LED you may think that is more of an office setting product and the aforementioned Kelvin temperatures are not achievable. Not so. In fact, these products allow for a specific color temperature and even a wider spectrum of lighting. It also goes without saying that these products are more efficient with a higher clarity or CRI.

Lighting Color Temperature in Commercial Zones

Typically commercial areas and zones have cooler lighting temperatures. This promotes a feeling of cleanliness and work type atmosphere. Interior and exterior lighting are usually in the 4500-5000 Kelvin range. In offices, a 4000K lighting is easy on the eyes while looking at computer screens or other work devices for extended periods of times. It keeps the strain on the eyes to a minimum but still set the tone for a work type atmosphere. In hands-on areas such as shops or warehouses, a higher color temperature is recommended due to visibility reasons. Higher Kelvin temperatures tend to result in higher visibility and CRI allowing for a safer workplace.

Ultimately color temperature in your lighting comes down to preference. That said, you don’t want your restaurant or living room looking and feeling the same as the same lighting as a cubical.