Picking the Right Lightbulb Color Temperature

Picking the Right Lightbulb Color Temperature - Paint Covered Overalls

As a homeowner, chances are slim that much thought has been given to what color temperature your lightbulbs are. Much thought often goes into the design motifs of sconces and fixtures. However, quite often the lighting discussion tends to peter out after decisions about LEDs and Wattages.

Wattage and source type are very important to your electrical bill. However, the color temperature you choose can be just as important to your home’s design and daily use. While the functionality of light is obvious, lighting color can help determine the mood of each room.

What is Color Temperature?

Color temperature is a way of referring to the visible color of light that radiates from a source. It is measured in Kelvin and ranges from about 2000K to about 10,000K.

An easy way to think about these measurements is to think about a piece of metal as it heats up. Picture it going from Red and Orange to Yellow and Blue as heat is applied. These colors move from warmer colors to cooler colors as you move up the Kelvin scale.

Most hardware stores will break these colors down into Warm Light (Amber) at 3000k, Bright Light (Yellow) at 4000K, and daylight (Blue) at 5000K.


There is no correct answer to what color your lightbulbs should be. However, different colors can help aid different tasks and set desired moods. A good place to start is consistency with throughout your rooms and especially in fixtures that can have several bulbs.

Make sure to stock up when purchasing for a room so that you have several spares in case you need to replace a bulb or want to add another lighting fixture to the room.

Lighting color in rooms

Let’s explore some of the ways that color temperature can play a role in your rooms. Keep in mind that different color temperature can affect what your paint choice looks like.

Warm Light

These warmer colors mimic the comforting soft warm glow that candles and firelight create. They are good substitutes for when you have an old lower wattage incandescent lightbulb that needs replacing in a fixture. Additionally, this color temperature is perfect for livings rooms and reading lamps in the bedroom. Anywhere you want to add a little warmth.

Bright Light

Bright lights are a perfect all-around illumination. Great for hallways and large open areas that need to be well lit. Bright light can work well in a Kitchen and dining room. These bulbs can add brightness that still has a bit of warmth. Bright light works well in bathroom sconces as well. Additionally, it can be the light source in bedroom ceiling fans, or as your attic or garage light.

Daylight Light

For those looking for a more modern or futuristic feel, daylight provides a bright and cool blue light source. It can provide a sleek and sophisticated look in Kitchens and Bathrooms and add an edge to any tech savvy office or den. What daylight lacks in warmth, it makes up for in sheer coolness.

A Parting Thought on Color Temperature

The color of the lighting in your home provides both functionality and mood. It can create the perfect atmosphere for curling up with a novel, taking a relaxing bath, or baking that holiday pie. With a little color consistency from room to room and within your fixtures, you can help to craft your house into an inviting home.

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Author Details

Dominic is an IT Support Analyst for the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a freelance professional Lighting Designer. He was a professor of Lighting Design and Media Design for Theatre at UNC Chapel Hill as well as the Master Electrician and resident Lighting and Projection designer for PlayMakers Repertory Company from 2013 to 2019. He has designed lighting and projections for many theatres across the country as well as for several touring shows and has had several technical theatre inventions selected and recognized nationally for their contributions to theatrical lighting and special effects. He currently resides in Durham, NC. 


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