The Best Color Temperature for Outdoor Lighting?

Your outdoor lighting choices are important for many reasons, including safety, security, design and mood-setting. The best color temperature for outdoor lighting will vary based on your unique landscaping setting and personal tastes, but there are a few rules of thumb we can share with you to ensure your exterior is well-lit, looks incredible and sets the mood for enjoyment. Let’s start by getting schooled up on everything there is to know (almost) about color temperature for outdoor lighting.

What is color temperature anyway?

Color temperature is measured in kelvins, a measurement that starts at absolute zero. Kelvins measure the subtle colors that can be detected by the human eye from light output that ranges from a dull red that turns to yellow, then to white, then to bluish white and finally to blue. The higher the kelvin, the closer to cool white the color temperature is. Understanding both interior and exterior lighting color temperature will make your lighting more effective and impactful.

Color Temperature Scale | Capitol Lighting

Guide to the most common color temperature options:

  • WARM LIGHT – Most common with incandescent light bulbs, warm light color temperature ranges from 2700K to 2800K. These lights will impart a clear, white light that has very few red or blue tones.
  • COOL WHITE LIGHT – A cool white bulb’s color temperature is typically around  4500K. These light fixtures will offer a subtle hint of blue with the light source.
  • BLUE LIGHT – A cool white bulb’s color temperature is typically 4500K or higher. These light fixtures will offer a subtle hint of blue with the light source.

How do I decide upon the best color temperature for outdoor lighting?

Now that we’ve covered the basics of color temperature, Kelvins and the spectrum of options, let’s explore how to choose the best color temperature for outdoor lighting. The answer depends on your personal goals for your unique space. By understanding how the color temperatures can be married to your needs, you’ll be equipped to make the best color temperature choices for your outdoor lighting needs.

  • Color Temperature Tips For Landscape Lighting – Your home or commercial property’s landscape looks fantastic during the day, and you don’t have to lose that beauty after the sun goes down – when you choose the right exterior lighting color temperature. Slightly cooler color temperatures are used to accent plants in the landscape (generally 3000k-4000k). For the popular moonlighting effect, use downlighting where the light shines down from a higher point into trees. The best color temperature for moonlighting is 4000k which most closely mimics the color of natural moonlight.
  • Best Choices For Lighting Your Home’s Facade – Lighting up the exterior of your home after dark adds both ambiance and a layer of security. Exterior lighting can be one of the most pivotal ways to deter potential thieves from approaching your home or business. There is a balance, however, where lighting that is too bright draws more attention to your home and its valuable contents. As a rule of thumb, warmer color temperatures are used to highlight architectural elements (between 2500k-2700k), however cool white color temperatures between 5500k-6000k may be chosen for a higher level of security.
  • Pointers For Lighting Outdoor Entertainment Areas – Lighting your outdoor entertainment sets the mood for al fresco dining, pool time shenanigans and game time get-togethers. Warm white lighting choices are popular as they create an inviting, intimate atmosphere for spending time outdoors with friends and family.

Trending Now – Options For All Your Exterior Lighting Color Temperature Goals

1. Add Classic Elegance To Your Exterior.

Hinkley Lighting 2914 Sutcliffe 9 Inch Wide 2 Light Outdoor Wall Light

2.  Compliment Your Contemporary Exterior Style.

Quoizel ZP8414 Zephyr 9 Inch Wide 1 Light Outdoor Wall Light

3. Choose Ageless, Colonial Style.

Hinkley Lighting 1804 Freeport 8 Inch Wide 1 Light Outdoor Wall Light

You should have a strong working knowledge of color temperatures and even be able to decipher the Kelvin numbers and purposes of using lighting temperature colors like warm white and cool white. Your next step is to define your goals for your exterior lighting and choose the best color temperature for outdoor lighting projects accordingly!

– The Capitol Lighting Team

Browse our complete collection of outdoor lighting here.

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