A Layman's Guide to Color Temperature and Choosing the Right One For You

Most of us only think about temperature when we want to know if we should wear a jacket on a balmy fall day or perhaps apply some extra sunscreen. In Canada, we use the Celsius scale to measure temperature and we are familiar with 0°C as the freezing point.  

However, the Kelvin unit is actually the basis of all temperature measurement and the same 0°C would be measured as 273.15K on the Kelvin Scale. Let's take a look at how this relates to color temperature and LED lighting...

What is color temperature, you ask? Technically speaking, color temperature refers to the temperature to which you would have to heat a theoretical "black body" to produce light of the same visual color.

Let’s imagine the ‘black body’ as a piece of iron (it is not, but I just am trying to paint a picture here).

You take the piece of iron and hold it in a flame continuously, as you know the iron will eventually get hotter and hotter because it is retaining the heat.  As this happens, you start to see the color of the iron change – from black, to red, to orange, to yellow, to white, and eventually if it gets hot enough, it would take on a bluish tinge.

Here is a scale found on Wikipedia to give you an easy way to visualize how color is measured on the Kelvin scale.

Wikipedia: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Color_temperature_black_body_800-12200K.svg


We've created a chart to reflect how our color designations compare to some typical everyday color temperatures and help you choose an appropriate LED or CFL.

Color Temp



1500 K
2680 K
40W Incandescent Lamp
2700 K
3000 K
200W Incandescent Lamp
3200 K 
3400 K
1 hour before dusk
3000 - 3500 K

'Warm White' Watt-a-Light™ LED

4500 - 5500 K 
'Soft Daylight' Watt-a-Light™ LED
5500 K 
Electronic photo flash
6400 K
6500 - 7000 K
'Daylight 'Watt-a-Light™ LED
7000 K
Sunny Daylight


When choosing the best color temperature for your LED application, we recommend that you select ‘Soft Daylight’ for tasks and reading or where you want to be able to see ‘true’ colours. ‘Warm White’ is preferable where a soft warm light is needed, such as dining or just relaxing with your feet up. ‘Warm White’ bulbs are similar in colour to an incandescent light.

In true Watt-a-light fashion, we cannot forget to mention that colour of the LED will slightly affect the efficiency of the light.  Whiter coloured LEDs have more lumens per watt than the warmer coloured LEDs!

If you are still unsure of what color is the best for your situation, please don't hesitate to give us a call and we'd be happy to help!


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