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Warm White Vs Cool White Lighting

Mitchell Elworthy

Choosing the most suitable colour temperature for lighting is crucial. The colour temperature of your lights can help create the perfect atmosphere or mood for your desired area, whether it’s your home, office, or store. This blog will explore the differences between the colour temperatures, the impact they can have on a room or area, as well as suggested applications for each.

Light colour temperatures are measured in kelvins, which range from 1500k up to 6500k. The lower the kelvin of the light, the more yellow the light will appear. The higher the kelvin, the more white the light will appear.

Lighting companies will often use the terminology warm white, cool white and day light to describe the temperature of a light. However, it’s important to remember that kelvins is the most accurate measure of the colour temperature. For example, one manufacturer may describe 6000k as cool white, while most would describe 4000k as cool white. If a customer was to choose solely based on the description of the light temperature rather than the kelvins, they may end up with a light that is far harsher than what they originally wanted.

Cool White vs Warm White vs Day Light

So, what's the difference? As you can see in the photo below, the 3000k (often called warm white) has a yellow tinge, the 6000k (often called day light) has almost a blue colour to it and the cool white 4000k is a mix of the both with a neutral tone to it.

Warm White Vs Cool White Lighting Diagram

Your first thought may be that you dislike a certain colour temperature as it’s too harsh and clinical or too yellow and dim. However, as mentioned, certain applications will be far more suited to certain colour temperatures, so we recommend keeping an open mind on this.

Warm White Lighting

Warm white is the closest colour to candlelight; think of warm white as creating ambience in a room. Rather than having the area flooded with light, warm white lights will have small pools of light, creating a calmer and more relaxing atmosphere. This pleasant and inviting environment is perfect for a living room or bedroom where you want to wind down and relax. I personally did not like warm white before I understood the effect that warm white can have in a room. A warm white colour temperature is also ideal for more traditional applications where you want to create character and depth. For example, warm white lights are often used for weddings as it creates a romantic mood.

Warm White Wedding Lighitng

Areas where warm white lighting is best suited: 

Bedrooms

Living Areas

Dining Rooms

Outdoor Gardens

Weddings

Restaurants

Cafes

Entries & Hallways

Traditional Applications


    Cool White Lighting

    Cool white (around 4000k) is a great option if you are unsure which temperature to choose, as it has the best of both worlds. Cool white lighting is most suited in areas where you may require more brightness and a more lively feel in a space. It is often used in bathrooms as it provides a brighter, clearer light making it easier to see while you’re applying makeup or shaving. Other rooms that would suit cool lights include kitchens, laundries, garages and studies. If you choose to install cool white lights throughout your house, I recommend installing them with a dimmer. This will allow you to bring down the brightness and decrease the harshness if needed. If you’re looking for your space to feel modern and clean, the cool white is ideal for you.

    Cool White Lighting Application

    Areas where cool white lighting is best suited:

    Kitchens

    Bathrooms

    Toilets

    Laundries

    Garages

    Studies

    Commercial Applications

    Ultra Modern Applications


      Daylight Lighting

      Daylight lighting (around 5000k+) should be used carefully as it can appear very harsh and clinical. While the colour temperatures in your home are entirely personal preference, many people find that daylight lighting are too severe and have too much of a blue appearance to create a relaxing atmosphere. Some people find it even causes them headaches. We recommend daylight lighting only being used in high work areas such as offices or warehouses. The brightness and white appearance of daylight lighting reacts with the human brain to make it more awake and alert. It is the closest simulation of the natural colour of a bright sunny day. Below is a great example showing the bright 6000k daylight colour in an office application.

      Office Lighting Daylight Application

      Areas where day light lighting is best suited:

      Offices - 5000k preferably*

      Garages

      Warehouses

      Hospitals

       

      Conclusion

      At the end of the day, colour temperatures are a personal preference and there is no right or wrong choice. Some people will swear by a bright white light to give a lively feel or some may want to create much more relaxed environment which means less light. Another thing is to consider is the climate you live in. If you live in a hotter, more humid area such as Queensland, cooler light temperatures can help create a cooler ambience throughout your house and in cooler climates, warmer colour temperatures can create a cosier feeling throughout your house.   

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        MItchell Elworthy
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