What is CCT and How to Choose the right CCT?

Selecting the right color temperature for your lighting can be overwhelming, especially with the almost limitless options that LED lighting offers. In this article, we’ll guide you through selecting the right color temperature for your lighting needs.

What is Correlated Color Temperature (CCT)?

Correlated Color Temperature (CCT), is a gauge of how yellow or blue the color of light emitted from a light bulb appears. It’s measured in Kelvin and is most commonly found between 2200K and 6500K.

Warm light sources, such as incandescent bulbs, have a low color temperature (2200-3000K) and feature more light in the red, orange, and yellow range. Think of the warm, inviting light of a fire in the fireplace or a nice high-end restaurant with classy dim lighting. Click here to shop for lighting products with a warm color temperature.

Cool light sources, such as some HID or fluorescent lamps, have a high color temperature (>4000K) and feature more light in the blue range. Think of the crisp white or blue light of school hallways or hospitals. Click here to shop for lighting products with a cool color temperature.

How to Choose Color Temperature

When selecting a color temperature, the atmosphere you’re trying to create and the colors in your space are important factors to consider.

What atmosphere are you trying to create? Do you want to invite people to an intimate setting? Welcome people to a cozy lobby? Keep employees or students alert? Convey an energetic, clean atmosphere? Think about who your audience is and how you want them to feel when they are in your facility.

What kind of colors are you highlighting in your space? If you have blue, silver, or white colors in your space, you may want to consider cooler color temperatures. If you have wood tones, golds, or reds, you may want to consider warmer color temperatures. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and it’s often a good idea to select a color temperature that complements the color of the environment. It’s also worth noting that if you have neutral tones in your space, the color of the lighting can easily swing the feel of your space from warm and inviting to energetic and active.

Guide to Selecting Color Temperature by Application

Here is a simplified guide on what color temperatures typically work best by application.

ApplicationRecommended Color Temperature
Outdoor site lighting, parking garages, security lighting3000-4000K
General retail2700-4000K
Jewelry display, especially diamonds, or silver3500-4500K
Jewelry display, mixed metalsAlternating warm (2700K) and cool (4000K)
High-end restaurants1800-2700K
Quick-serve restaurants2700-3500K
Hotel lobbies1800-3000K
Hallways and common areasMatch color temperature to lobby
Guest rooms2700-3000K
Office space3000-4000K
Dining areas2700-3500K
Common areas and classrooms3500-5000K

How to Select Color Temperature by Application

Cooler color temperatures (3500-5000K+) work well in environments where you want to promote alertness and calm. Similarly, warmer color temperatures (2200-3000K), especially those with high R9 values, work well with giving a sense of warmth and comfort or with rich, warm woods to bring out the detail in the grain.

There have been tremendous improvements in the ability to make LED lighting dynamic through color tuning. Color tunable LED can be a great option if your color temperature needs to be precisely dialed-in or changed over time. Specific applications where color tuning particularly shines include settings where you would want to change the color temperature of your lighting based on time of day, seasons, or even specific product displays.

Even with these guidelines, it’s important to mock up your lighting before installing it. Each LED has its own characteristics and is unique. Each manufacturer has its own processes and designs. Not all 2700K or 4000K products look the same across different manufacturers, so get a few samples and install them in your space. There’s no substitute for seeing something in your own space with your own eyes.

Choosing between LED products? Contact us now!

@ Green Image Tech, we offer high-quality, energy-efficient LED lighting solutions for both interior and exterior applications. Our showroom is located at #105-8288 N Fraser Way Burnaby BC, V3N 0E9

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