Outdoor Lighting Color

Everything You Need to Know About Color Tone for Outdoor Lighting

The average American household spends over $5,500 on energy each year.

Our investment in blinking and twinkling is more than just cosmetic. The right lighting can help you see clearly, find the right location, and even prevent crime.

If you are considering adding some lighting to your outdoor landscape in the La Jolla or the surrounding area, it is possible you have heard the term “color tone.” What is color tone, and how can you use it to bring drama and class to your landscape? Here are some ideas.

Color Temperature

Believe it or not, colors actually have temperatures. They are measured in degrees Kelvin. Ironically, warmer lights have cooler color temperatures, and cooler lights have higher color temperatures.

So, strictly speaking, lower Kelvin numbers are warmer and more yellow. Higher temperatures are bluer and whiter.

The primary Kelvin range for outdoor lighting is between 2,500k and 4,000k. The warmer temperatures, (2,500k-2,700k,) are used to create architectural elements. Cooler elements, (3,000k-4,000k,) are sometimes used dramatically on landscapes.

Going Kelvin

Outdoor lighting can be used to create comfort and ambiance even when you are not entertaining outside. Floor lamps, carriage lamps, sconces, path lights, and deck lighting are just a few of the ways folks like to add beauty to their landscapes.

Tree lights, pool lights, and moonlighting are modern ways that sophisticated La Jolla homeowners make their properties more inviting in the evening. Art lighting for fine sculptures, and even garage door lighting, are new ways to highlight the most thoughtfully designed elements of your landscape.

Warmer temperatures, ideally around 2,700k, are the most commonly used for outdoor illumination. They mimic the natural warm glow of a campfire or tiki torch and can be very romantic.

Getting Warmer

Picking the Right Lighting ColorWhen entertaining on a comfortable evening, some homeowners like to go even lower on the Kelvin scale. Lighting at around 2,000k creates a candlelight or campfire glow that is soothing and delightful. This lighting is great around fireplaces or hot tubs, keeping the mood cozy and warm.

Blue lighting can be unnatural or harsh when used for entertaining. Lighting around 3,000k can, however, be used to bring out the blues or greens in plants. Many enjoy the colorful effect.

It is important to consider which features you want to highlight. If everything is dramatized, nothing is special. Showcase your best features, such as a beam spread or fixture placement, in a pleasing way to impress your guests.

You will also want to think about how people will be viewing your landscape as they walk by or stop in. If they can see something from all angles, you may want to illuminate it everywhere.

Bright white lighting of 4,000k can be used to dramatically mimic moonlight during the night. While you shouldn’t use it on every shrub, it can sometimes be placed high in trees to wash down over the area below. Some bulbs used to “moonlight” trees come with special glare shields that wrap around the bulb and ensure that light goes downward.

Special Features

Purchasing LED lights will cost you more up front. However, they are six to seven times more efficient. They can save you 80% on energy costs and will last 25% longer than other light bulbs.

You will end up making up for the extra money you spent on LED bulbs within the first 4-5 years that you use them. They are also lower-voltage and safe to the touch. In residential areas, this could save you a dangerous accident with a lawn mower or other power tools.

Solar-powered features work great and will save you money in the long run if you live in sunbelt areas. However, they may not be worth it in other parts of the country. In these areas, they tend to emit an eerie blue-white light that is not flattering to your landscape.

Setting the Mood

outdoor living lightingLayered lighting creates drama by evoking different emotions in different parts of your landscape. Your pathway, for example, might be warm and cozy and your garden might have a cool, architectural feel.

In these cases, you may want to consider putting your lights on different circuits. For example, the circuit you use for deck lighting could be different from the one you use for your entryway.

Dimmers and controls can help you change the feel of your space with the touch of a button. You will want to remember that all of the dimmers on a single circuit will dim at the same time. Think about which ones you want to change incrementally for entertaining or ambiance.

Keep in mind that the same dimmers will work for every light on your circuit. Consider which lights you will want to dim or brighten when you have company. You will also want to think about how you will want to highlight your home for passers-by to admire.

More Options 

Modern lighting can be used for safety as well as beauty. Consider adding security lighting to discourage unwanted guests from entering your property. Sensors can be set up along your pathway to go off when guests arrive.

Some lights are sunlight-activated, so they shut off when daylight is present. You can also have timed devices that put your lights on sunset and shut them off at sunrise each day.

The Magic of Color Tone

The color tone can add beauty, romance, and warmth to any landscape. Choosing the right color temperature and special options for your La Jolla home will have people admiring your landscape for many years.

For more information on lighting, contact us today.