Warm and cool lighting

The Difference Between Warm and Cool Lights and What They Represent

Lighting can make your room warm and cozy or bright and fresh. Which one do you want, and do you want it the same way all the time?

Allow us to guide you through the difference between warm and cool lights for your San Diego home. When you’re done you’ll know which to use, when, and why.

What Are Warm and Cool Lights?

To put it very simply, warm lights have a yellow or orange feel to them, and cold lights have a blue or pure white feel to them. However, it’s a little more complicated than that.

There are two terms you might hear and need to understand, kelvins and lumens.

Light has a color temperature, which is measured in kelvin (K) degrees. It ranges from 1,000K to 10,000K.

The lower range of kelvin produces a warm light (approximately 1,000 – 3,500K) and the higher range provides a cool light (approximately 6,500 – 10,000K). In the middle section, you also have daylight.

The other thing to consider is Lumens. Lumens replaced watts when LED lights became available. Because LED lights use so few watts, we needed a better way to measure their output. The higher the Lumens the more light there is.

The number of Lumens you need depends on your space and how bright you want it to be. As an example, a 900 lumen LED bulb is around 15 watts and equal to a 60-watt incandescent bulb.

Why Does it Matter?

The color of your lights matters because the way they look will affect the way your space feels.

You might have warm lighting in your living room. It’s friendly, cozy, inviting, relaxing and soft, making you feel at home.

Whereas in an office you would expect cool lighting, as it’s bright and helps you focus.

The theory and meaning behind different colors may also help you understand the difference in light temperature. Yellow and orange are the colors of a sunset. Yellow is natural, it’s the color of sunshine, bees, and daffodils. Yellow is optimistic and happy.

Orange is the color of good health and comfort. Orange is warm, and together with yellow, gives your room or outside space a positive feel.

Blue is associated with cleanliness, the sky, and the sea. White is sterile and pure. They don’t give the homey atmosphere that a warm light does, but they can help you feel focused and energized. They also ensure that viewing things is not distorted by any color.

Can I Have Both?

Yes! There are two ways you can achieve both warm and cool lights. You can install both, or you can use smart lighting and LED bulbs which can achieve both in the same unit.

Installing Warm and Cool Lights Separately

Rooms, such as your bathroom or kitchen may need both types of light. The bathroom can be one of the most relaxing rooms in your home, it’s a place to take a long hot bath and unwind.

However, it may also be the place you want to be able to see clearly in the mirror to apply your make up or remove contact lenses.

To create a romantic candlelit feel, install your main lights with a lower kelvin and a warmer color. To create clarity by your mirror, install higher kelvin lighting with a cooler color.

Perhaps you have a traditional kitchen and want warm lighting to compliment your style, but you want to be able to see what you’re doing when you’re preparing a meal.

Install warm lighting as your main light source and cool lighting under your cabinets, which will focus their light on the worktop.

What About Outside?

There’s no reason you can’t apply this logic to the outside of your home too. For seating areas where you want to relax and entertain, consider warm lighting.

For walkways or features in your garden you want to show off, consider a cool lighting option. Cool lights will be brighter in your pool or hot tub than warm lights.

Cool lighting is also a better choice for security lighting, as it is not inviting to intruders, and is bright and clarifying which should scare them away.

Installing Warm and Cool Lights Together

Not only are LED lights more energy-efficient, they last longer too. They have higher potential brightness levels and intensities, produce a low amount of heat, and come in a wide range of colors.

With the magic of LED lights, dimmer switches and smart technology, you can enjoy warm and cool lights from the same bulb and other colors too if you wanted.

Additional colors can be almost anything. They can be controlled with your phone, a switch, or a small remote. You can set them to dim automatically, fade from one to another, turn on and off at automated times.

There is really no end to the possibilities with LED lighting and technology, meaning you can explore and enjoy warm vs. cool lighting even easier than before.

Your Next Lighting Project

Now that you understand the difference between warm and cool lights, we have lots more information and inspiration for lighting inside and outside of your home on our blog.

When you’re ready to take on your next lighting project, get in touch with one of our lighting experts. You can contact us through our website or social media, and we would love to hear from you.