LED Light Colors

The difference between the different LED light colors and temperatures is one of the critical things to know about installing a new fixture.


Lights that come with the same lumen count or wattage can look very different because of their color and temperature differences. When looking at those unique colors and temps, what we see can extend to a biological level because our brains are configured to respond to different hues and shades.


That's why blue light spectrum products are discouraged in the bedroom. They can interfere with relaxation habits because of their potentially disruptive effect on the body's circadian rhythm.


These principles apply to all lighting situations. Whether you're installing cabinet lighting, task lighting, artwork lighting, or recessed lighting, knowing what to expect from LED light colors will ensure you get the best product for your needs.


Warm to Cool


When shopping for LED lights today, you'll find that the bulbs come in warm and cool colors. Some trend toward more of a yellow color, while others are closer to white. What does it mean when you see some that are warm, while others are cool?


If you look closely at an LED bulb's packaging, you'll see a number on it with a “K" after it. The “K" stands for Kelvin, a light temperature measuring unit.

When you know what to expect from the temperature, whether it is warm or cool, you'll have a fair approximation of what to expect when turning on the light.


Bulbs with a lower number tend to work better in residential situations, creating the soft white lighting you might remember from incandescent lights.


Whether it feels “warm" or “cool" depends on a person's perspective. The manufacturer isn't referring to how the bulb or light feels when you touch it. Just remember that higher temperatures emit a cooler light so that you install an appropriate product.


Why Do People Prefer Warmer Colors?

When people are in the presence of bright light and cool tones, their bodies release more serotonin. That neurotransmitter helps you feel alert, which is why sunlight exposure often makes someone feel active and awake.

That's also why it can be difficult to rest after you've been staring at a computer screen all day.


When the sun sets, the body's serotonin production levels regulate evening activities. That's why you start to feel tired when the night sky appears. You aren't getting the same light spectrum exposure.


Warmer LED color temperatures are often preferred because the lower Kelvin rating encourages the body to make melatonin instead. That hormone works to configure the body's circadian rhythm, triggering feelings of fatigue during the overnight hours.


Warm LED lights work the same way. When a room offers an amber, soft white hue, the ambient lighting encourages the body to wind down and produce melatonin.


When blue light spectrums are present, the mind reacts faster. Warmer tones create relaxation. Understanding this biological reaction ensures that you can design any room, even in commercial or industrial settings, to fulfill your needs.


What Color Is the LED Light?


LED lights come in several different colors. Although different shades of white, yellow, and amber tend to be used for the home, you can also find them in green, blue, and red.


Unlike the typical filament bulb, an LED needs a special circuit to make the technology work. It's called a driver, and the setup is similar to what you'd find with a ballast and a fluorescent bulb.


Another option is called an “invisible LED." This technology isn't included in lighting applications. It's typically reserved for optical switches, analysis communications, and other purposes when photo sensors are available.


Each LED color comes with a different wavelength and efficacy rating. Here's a closer look at what to expect with each one.


ColorWavelength (NM)Efficacy (LM/W)Efficacy (W/W)
620 to 645720.39
Green520 to 550930.15
Blue460 to 490370.35
Cyan490 to 520750.26
Orange610 to 620980.29


(Table Source)


Even though two LED lights might have the same color, the temperature differences between the two can cause them to appear as different tones. That's why one might appear yellow, another could be orange, and a third red – but they'd all encourage happiness, confidence, and energy.


Meaning of the Different LED Colors


Have you ever walked into a room that smelled like cinnamon rolls and had a memory flashback or an emotional response? Did your stomach rumble when you caught a whiff of the baked goods in the oven?


Although color doesn't necessarily come with a smell, its tone, hue, and shade can trigger specific emotional responses.


Every color creates a different human response. Even a subtle shift, like going from a soft white setting to a cool white room, can change how you feel.


When you're in a soft white environment, you might feel cozy, warm, and calm. It's an inviting place where it feels like you can relax.


If you're in a cool white environment, it feels vibrant and fresh. There tends to be more focus available in that environment, especially if the spectrum is close to natural daylight.


Here are the different colors you can find with LED lighting and the natural human reactions and emotions that come with the ambient mood.


RGB LED Light Color MoodsHuman Reaction to the LED Colors
Red LED Light ColorsPassion, love, and strength are directly associated with this LED light color. It can also lead to anger, urgency, or hatred when the emotional reactions spiral out of control. It even speaks to potentially dangerous situations, initiating the body's natural fight-or-flight mechanism.
Yellow LED Light ColorsYellow LED lighting invites happiness, friendliness, and warmth. It can stimulate one's creative energy while still offering a note of caution.
Orange LED Light ColorsThis color inspires confidence. People feel innovative when surrounded by this light, which supports more vibrance and feelings of wellness.
Green LED Light ColorsPeaceful feelings grow with this LED light color. It's sometimes associated with financial success, but the goal is to grow in your own unique way. It speaks for freshness and quality.
Blue LED Light ColorsThis color speaks of trust. People feel stable and intelligent when in this environment, filled with emotions linked to integrity, loyalty, and dependability.
Purple LED Light ColorsPurple LED lighting is associated with ambition, wisdom, and success. It's an imaginative hue that delivers historical correlations with royalty, fashion, and luxury. It's a great choice for anyone who wants to tap into the creative centers of their mind.


These reactions make it easier to determine where to place LED colors in homes and businesses. Since this lighting option adds layers of depth to the ambient environment, you can decide how to approach the temperature based on what you want to accomplish in each space.


Color Temperatures of LED Lights


The color temperature of LED lights refers to the light source. When looking at this specific technology, you have four primary choices: daylight, natural, warm, and cool.

Each LED color temperature provides a particular look and feel once installed. Most people find that specific colors work better in different applications.


When purchasing LED lights, the package should describe the light temperature to expect. Even though you'll see what category it fits into, that information might not provide enough information for your specific application.


That's why having information about the LED color scale is helpful. When you know what to expect in the Kelvin range, it's much easier to select an appropriate product for each space.


The following table provides more information about the four primary LED color temperature categories.


Daylight5000K to 6000KThis LED lighting option delivers a crisp and clear white light. It works well for most general settings, including workshops, offices, garages, and retail locations. Some outdoor security products also use this color temperature.
Natural3500K to 4500KWith this LED light, you receive a clean and cool color that mimics natural sunlight. It's useful for almost any residential application, including dark spots where there isn't much natural light available.
Warm2700K to 3500K This LED color temperature delivers a relaxing atmosphere because it generates a calming effect. It's well-suited for living rooms, bedrooms, some restaurants, and even a formal dining room.
Cool6000K to 7000KSince this light has the highest temperature scale, it tends to work better in a commercial or industrial setting. The brightness it delivers can help to foster alertness at all times of the day.


A fifth option, called “amber," is available at 2200K. This temperature tends to be extra warm, providing a soft white result that tends to have more yellow tones. Instead of creating stark contrasts between light and dark, it delivers a glow that works well for rooms where pure relaxation is the primary desire.


Most homes will want to avoid the cool LED lights because the temperature spectrum can potentially interfere with a person's resting cycles. When rooms feature warmer tones that trend toward soft hues that mimic sunlight, it's much easier to wind down in that space.


If you want to stay productive, consider using LED lighting with a Kelvin rating closer to natural daylight.


How to Pick an LED Light


Once you've decided on the color and temperature for the LED lights you need, it helps to count the bulbs that need to be replaced. Most people are surprised to learn how many they have.


Each bulb should have a marking that tells you the voltage, wattage, and base. You can take this information to purchase replacement LED lights that fit in that spectrum.


After you've got that list, you can search for the color, brightness, and output ratings you prefer. Then start calculating the environmental and financial savings so that you can see how many dividends your investment can deliver over the product's lifespan.

Since today's best LED lights can last for 50,000 hours or more, this upgrade might be the last purchase you need to make in this area. That's why it makes sense to buy LED light colors that meet your current and future needs.




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