Colour Temperature: Use Illumination Selectively


Cold light, warm light, daylight. Recently, the colour temperature of various illuminants is being taken more and more seriously. For good reason, because the colour temperature not only affects our well-being, but can also instantly change the atmosphere and mood of the room.

But what exactly is the colour temperature? And how do I use different lamps with different colour temperatures correctly? In our magazine, we tell you everything you need to know about colour temperature, and also explain how to use the knowledge correctly.

The most important facts in brief

  • The color temperature describes the light in more detail. It is expressed in Kelvin (K) and is generally classified as warm, neutral and cold.
  • The colour temperature affects our well-being and can influence our concentration, performance and sleep cycle.
  • The different colour temperatures are marked on lamp packaging. Some modern LED lamps can be set to different temperatures.

Our product recommendation

The Öuesen LED ceiling lamp can be switched to different colour temperatures in three stages. The lamp emits cold, neutral and warm light, which is controlled by a power switch.

It can be used in many rooms, is waterproof and easy to install. Thanks to energy efficiency class A++ this ceiling lamp is also energy-saving. Buyers of this ceiling lamp are attracted by its modern design. They especially praise the functionality and quality of this product.

Definition: What is color temperature?

The colour temperature describes the colour of light in more detail. This temperature does not denote heat in degrees Celsius, but is measured in Kelvin and classified into colour levels. In principle, colour temperature is divided into warm, neutral and cold light.

The “Planck’s radiator”, a black body, serves as orientation for the measurement. When this body is increasingly heated, it first glows red, then white and finally blue.

For lighting, this means that lamps can emit light with different colour temperatures. Red and golden light is warm, white and blue light is cold.

What is the difference between colour temperature and light colour?

The colour temperature describes the colour of light in more detail. Light color can be any color of the spectrum. Red, blue, green are for example light colours.

The color temperature describes the heat of the light. So there is warm, cold or neutral light. Lamps emit light with different colour temperatures.

Backgrounds: What you should know about color temperature

Color temperature is a topic that is often overlooked. In addition to luminous intensity, light colour, wattage and beam angle, it is one of the many factors that determine lamps. Nevertheless, the importance of colour temperature should not be underestimated. We explain why.

How do you measure the colour temperature?

The color temperature is measured in Kelvin (K). This is a measure for the temperature. Since the color temperature depends on the heat, it can be determined by measuring the temperature.
The color temperature can also be measured on a scale. The starting point for this measurement is a black body that emits light of different colors as it gets warmer: first red, then white, then blue.

The colours on this scale correspond to certain temperatures. For example, midday light has a colour temperature of 5300 Kelvin and more, which is in the blue-white colour range.

The measuring instrument for the light temperature is the colorimeter. It analyses the light and performs a spectral analysis. Thus the exact temperature value and the colour can be determined.

Which colour temperature is pleasant?

Which colour temperature is perceived as pleasant depends on the time of day. During the day, we find light that has a colour temperature of 5300K and above to be pleasant. This temperature corresponds to the temperature of sunlight.
But overall, warm light is perceived as pleasant. This is why most of the lamps on the market are warm white and are at a temperature around 3000K.
During the night, however, cool light can disturb and even negatively influence us. Lamps that have a colour temperature similar to daylight can disrupt our sleep pattern. During the night, warmer or even golden light is therefore preferred.

What effect does the colour temperature have?

The colour temperature of light has a great influence on us, even if we do not notice it. The colour temperature affects several aspects of our life:

To the well-being
On concentration and performance

The colour temperature has a very strong effect on our sleep rhythm. Logical, because we wake up in daylight and sleep at night.

Daylight has a high temperature (from 5300 K) and is very bluish. This light ensures that we stay awake and active. Illumination of this colour temperature at night time can cause sleep disturbances.

Both too warm or too cold light can, if used incorrectly, disturb the daily rhythm. In addition to sleep disturbances, the wrong colour temperature can cause headaches and eye pain, nervousness, restlessness, fatigue, dizziness or even nausea.

As a rule, we prefer warm or white light. Cold, bluish halogen light, on the other hand, is perceived as unpleasant and disturbing. Very few people equip their own home with very cold light, as it is unpleasant for us.

But cold light is not always bad. Daylight is very bluish, and midday light has a temperature of about 6000K, which is very blue. This light keeps us awake and increases the activity.

Cool light, which is roughly equivalent to daylight, increases concentration and performance. That is why luminaires with such cool light are often used in office buildings or schools.

Oliver StefaniFraunhofer Institute

The colour temperature has an emotional and biological effect on us.
A room with warm light has a cosy and relaxing effect, whereas a room with cold light appears larger, purer and more stimulating.

How can I specifically influence and control the colour temperature?

To influence the color temperature specifically can be useful for various reasons. The quality of living and the quality of life can be increased by the targeted use of luminaires with different temperatures.
The colour temperature can be influenced by using lamps with specific temperatures. There are also lamps and luminaires whose colour temperature can be adjusted.
Lamps with different colour temperatures are available in many electrical and household stores. With modern LED lamps, the colour temperature is always indicated on the packaging.
Lamps that allow colour temperature regulation are particularly handy, but also more expensive. They are particularly suitable for the living room, which should be lit differently throughout the day.

What colour temperatures do different lamps have?

There is a huge selection of lamps that differ in countless product features. Therefore the choice can be difficult. However, they all have one thing in common: the colour temperature is specified uniformly.

The colour temperature is indicated on the packaging of modern lamps, and a scale also helps to estimate the colour temperature. If the colour temperature, for example “warm white”, is not given, it can be estimated using the Kelvin number.

LED lamps have long been said to produce unpleasantly hard, white light. This is no longer the case today, as modern LED lamps can produce a warm light. Some LED lamps even have the ability to adjust the color temperature.

The type of lamp is not important for the color temperature. Modern lamps have a wide range of colour temperatures.

Colour temperature: Practical application and advantages

With the right lighting and correct colour temperature, the quality of life can be improved immensely. The atmosphere of the apartment also appears more inviting and cosy. We explain how you can use the colour temperature of light in a targeted manner.

The right colour temperature for the living room

Most of the time is usually spent in the living room. This room should be properly lit at all times of the day.

At daytime, neutral white lamps with a temperature of approx. 4000 K and upwards are recommended. The light is similar to daylight, but not too cool it keeps us awake and active.

When the sun has set, it is recommended that you use warm color temperature lighting. Illuminants with approx. 2700K provide warm white or even golden light, have a calming and relaxing effect.

Different lamps with different colour temperatures are therefore recommended for the living room. Lamps with adjustable colour temperature are also very practical in this room.

The right colour temperature for the bedroom

The bedroom is mainly used at night. It is a room of relaxation, rest and cosiness.

Lamps with cold light, i.e. high temperature, have no place in the bedroom. The bluish light keeps you awake, hurts your eyes at the late hour and is unpleasant.

Warm white lamps below 2700 K are particularly suitable for the bedroom. In addition to the colour temperature, brightness is also important in the bedroom. Lamps that have dimmers and can be adjusted in many ways are particularly suitable for this room.

Bedroom colors: Effect on the sleep well-being

The right colour temperature for the children’s room

Similar rules apply to the children’s room as to the living room. As people spend time in this room at different times of the day, it makes sense to have several chandeliers with different temperatures.

Neutral white candlesticks (from 3300K) should be used at daytime. These increase well-being and also promote concentration and performance.

At night, warm white or even light sources are recommended, which have a relaxing effect and prepare the child for sleep. The more yellow and dimmed the light, the easier it is to fall asleep.

Did you know that blue light from monitors keeps us awake?
Screens of mobile phones, PCs, tablets and the like emit a lot of blue light that is similar to daylight. The body reacts to the blue light and does not enter “sleep mode”. The result is problems falling asleep and other sleep disorders.
You can minimize this effect by using programs that filter out the blue light and make the screen look yellowish. It is also recommended that you stop looking at screens about 60 minutes before going to sleep.

In the children’s room, brightness is important in addition to colour temperature. Since children are involved in a variety of activities such as playing, reading or learning, good lighting is of great importance.

For example, a bright lamp with cool light should be placed at the desk. At the bed, however, less bright lamps with a warm light temperature are ideal.

The right colour temperature for the bathroom

In the bathroom it is all about comfort, but also about efficiency. In this room too, different lamps with different temperatures are worthwhile.

A neutral color temperature is ideal for general exposure. However, the bathroom or make-up mirror should be equipped with lights that are close to daylight in terms of temperature. These lamps should have 5300K or more.

Such cool light can be unpleasant when the bathroom is entered early in the morning, but it wakes you up quickly. In addition, daylight-like lighting gives better make-up results than warmer lamps.

Warm, yellow light can not only falsify the colors of the makeup, but also blur the contours. Especially if the lamps are also not bright enough.

The right colour temperature for the kitchen

In the kitchen, lighting is important to ensure that the dishes are prepared well. If food is also eaten in the kitchen, a pleasant and inviting atmosphere should be created.

In the kitchen, the work surfaces should be well illuminated to allow precise work. Warm or neutral white lamps (2700K and higher) are perfectly adequate for this room.

But cool illuminants that produce lighting similar to daylight can also be used in the kitchen, because they increase concentration and attention. Lamps with 6500K and more are very cool, but are used in professional environments to enhance performance.

Ultimately, it depends on how the space is mainly used. The small kitchen in the apartment should be illuminated differently than a restaurant or professional kitchen.

The right colour temperature for the office and study

In the office, efficiency and performance come first. For this reason, most office and work spaces typically use lamps with high temperature, and therefore cool, bluish light.

The cool, bluish light from lamps with about 6500K and more is similar to daylight. This light keeps you awake and active, it also has a positive effect on concentration and performance.

Although this light is often considered unpleasant, it is sometimes necessary and an efficient tool to get through late hours or the dark winter time.

Some workrooms, such as workshops or industrial rooms, require even cooler and brighter light. So it is not unusual for factories to use lamps of 8000K or even more. For home use, however, such chandeliers are completely unnecessary.

The correct color temperature for the monitor

People spend more and more time at the monitor. In addition to computers, mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets are also in constant use. With the right settings the eyes can be protected.

Recommended for the computer monitor is a color temperature of 6500 Kelvin. This colour temperature is stimulating and ensures concentrated and attentive work.

However, this cool light has a negative effect on us if we are exposed to it late in the day. Blue light keeps us awake, so falling asleep problems are a common effect of late hour computer use.

To escape the blue light of the monitors, there are numerous programs and apps that can change the color temperature. These include, for example:

  • f.lux
  • Glühbirne
  • nightmode (Windows 10)
  • crépuscule (Android)
  • Iris (iOS and others)

Many newer devices already have an installed blue light filter or an additional night mode. These programs can be set individually, for example according to Kelvin or activation time, and are very practical.

The right colour temperature thanks to adjustable LED lamp

Most lamps have only one colour temperature, which cannot be influenced. However, some modern LED lamps have the ability to adjust the color temperature.

It is essential to differentiate between dimmers and colour temperature controllers:

  • Dimmer: regulates the brightness of a lamp, i.e. how much light is emitted.
  • Color temperature regulators: change the color temperature, i.e. the temperature in Kelvin.

Colour temperature regulators can also be controlled by a dimmer system, but in most cases they can be adjusted in steps. Such lamps are expensive, but also extremely practical.

These LED illuminants are available in different versions. Besides table lamps and floor lamps with color temperature settings, there are also ceiling lamps and also single LED lamps.

Resources: The best entry point for color temperature

Color temperature is a very broad topic that can be viewed from many angles. In addition to the physical approach, it is also important from a health point of view, after all, we are surrounded by light sources throughout our lives.

Last but not least, the colour temperature, as highlighted in our magazine, plays an important role in furnishing the living space. However, colour temperature in terms of furnishing is a relatively new topic that is only beginning to gain attention and significance.

If you would like to find out more about color temperature, there are a handful of possibilities. There are numerous works that deal with the physics of light.

When it comes to furnishings, health and lifestyle, you’ll find what you’re looking for in online magazines. These are usually very up to date and critically follow the development of illuminants.

If you want to go into more detail about color temperature, books are a good first port of call. We recommend the following book on colour temperature and other properties of lamps:

Thomas Winkler White light with adjustable colour temperature based on stacked and separately controllable OLED

This book deals scientifically with white light from OLEDs. Their function and effect are examined and the function of temperature change is explained. A good work that explains the physical principles of modern OLEDs.


The color temperature describes the light in more detail. Along with lumen, wattage, colour fastness and beam angle, it is one of the most important factors of illuminants.

The colour temperature is measured in Kelvin and is basically divided into warm, neutral and cold. The colour temperature is described on the packaging of modern LED lamps. The most common LED lamps are warm-white, neutral-white or daylight-white, which correspond to values from approx. 2700K to 6000K.

The higher the temperature, the bluer the light. Blue light appears cooler, brighter, and is similar to daylight. It promotes the ability to concentrate and performance.

Lower temperatures produce yellowish, golden or even reddish light. This light appears warm and less bright and has a calming and relaxing effect.

The colour temperature can be used specifically for home furnishing. For example, certain rooms should be equipped with lamps of different colour temperatures, depending on what they are designed for.

Not only does this improve well-being, the right colour temperature also has a positive effect on the mood and atmosphere of the room.

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