Choosing Color Temperature for your Industrial Facility Lighting

We get asked all the time what the right color temperature (CCT) should be for various areas within a professional industrial setting.  With LED technology, your options have become almost limitless. Selecting the right color for your environment can be pretty overwhelming.

In this article, we’ll provide some basic rule of thumb guidance for color temperature within common areas of an industrial facility.

What is color temperature?

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

Warm light sources, such as incandescent bulbs, have a low color temperature (2200-3500K) and feature more light in the red, orange and yellow range. When you think of a warm color temperature, think of the warm, relaxing light of a fire in the fireplace or a nice high-end restaurant with classy dim lighting.  Typically, warm light colors are not the color of choice in most areas of indoor industrial settings.

Natural white light sources (3600K-4500K) have a higher color temperature approaching a true white color, yet have softer undertones.  These light colors are commonly used in office settings where people work on computers and hold team meetings, or in outdoor lighting for parking lots and garages.

Cool white light sources have an even higher color temperature range (4600K-5500K) and feature light color in the white range. When you think of a cool color temperature, think of the crisp white light of a hospital or production assembly line.

Questions to ask when selecting color temperature

  1. What atmosphere are you trying to create?
  2. Welcome people to a cozy lobby?
  3. Keep employees alert?
  4. Convey an energetic, clean atmosphere?
  5. Make it easier to read labels on packages stored in a warehouse?

How to select color temperature by application

Cooler color temperatures (4600-5500K+) work well in environments where you want to promote alertness, high productivity and visual discernment of details.  This is the most prevalent light color in a professional industrial environment.  Conversely, warmer color temperatures (2200-3500K), work well creating a sense of warmth, relaxation and comfort which is more fitting in a restaurant or hospitality setting.

Recently, there have been improvements in the ability to make LED lighting dynamic through color tuning.  Color tunable LED can be an option if your color temperature needs to be changed over time. Specific applications where color tuning may make sense include office settings to change the color temperature of your lighting based on time of day, seasons of the year, or perhaps for product displays.

Even with the guidelines above, it’s important to get a few samples and install them in your space. There’s no substitute for seeing something in your own environment with your own eyes.

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