If you’re considering a new outdoor lighting system, it’s important that your lighting designer understands color temperature and the nature of light, the effects of various types of light, and the light sources they use.
With modern lighting technologies, home owners can choose not only the brightness of their lights, but the color temperature. Measured in degrees Kelvin (K), lower temperatures tend to produce a warmer amber light, while higher temperatures produce a cooler, whiter light.
The primary Kelvin range used in residential outdoor lighting is between 2500k-4000k. As a rule of thumb, warmer color temperatures are used on architectural elements (between 2500k-2700k) and slightly cooler temperatures are used on plant material in a landscape (generally 3000k-4000k).
Many plant specimens appear more natural when illuminated by a higher kelvin light source. When downlighting from high up, down into trees, 4000k is best as it mimics the color of natural moonlight (commonly referred to as “moonlighting”).
The Best Color Temperature for Your Landscape Lighting
Color temperature is simply how “warm” or “cool” your light is or, put differently, how “yellow” or “white” your light is. Using the right types of lights for various outdoor lighting applications is an important consideration. There are no hard and fast rules, so depending on the mood or effect you are trying to create, you may require different types of lighting for different parts of your landscape.
The best color temperature for your outdoor lighting is really a matter of choice. And the best choice is the one that creates the effect you want.
Stay away from cooler color temperatures when lighting outdoor landscapes. The bluish tones from
cooler temperatures can make environments appear sickly or unnatural, imparting a sense of uneasiness, and being on edge. Instead, opt for lighting with a very warm color temperature: 2700K LED is ideal, and 3000K is okay, too. The 2700K temperature offers a very soothing and natural tone that mimics the warm, comforting glow of a campfire. As such, it is ideal for creating relaxing, comfortable outdoor environments.
Some Specific Lighting & Light Suggestions
When you are lighting entertainment areas, consider lights on the lower end of the Kelvin scale, around 2000K, providing a warm reddish glow that can mimic the light of a flame. This is the same light you get from candles, tiki torches or a glowing bonfire. Strategically placed, lights in this range are all you need for a romantic or rustic feel.
Consider 4000K artificial moonlight lights placed high in trees and aimed down to provide a broad light that washes over the area below. These lighting fixtures come equipped with special glare shields that wrap around the bulb to ensure light goes downward.
For all of your outdoor and landscape lighting, select a soft white light that is gentle and relaxing to the eye. Use with wash lighting over the facade of your home.
Warm White (2700K). Similar to halogen-type landscape lighting, it is the most preferred color
temperature for landscape lighting. Psychologically, it is thought to be more welcoming and soothing
compared to higher color temperatures.
Warm or Natural White (3000K). Noticeably cooler than 2700K, some landscape lighting pros prefer this temperature. It tends to accentuate greens and blues in vegetation.
Cool White (4000K). Quite bluish compared to 2700K, this is sometimes used to illuminate blue vegetation (such as blue spruce).
For all of your landscape lighting needs, give Harold a call at 561.204.3000 or fill out our consultation form here. One of our lighting experts will do a free consult and evaluation on your lighting today.