What is Color Temperature?

What is Color Temperature?

Color temperature (in Kelvin, i.e., K) of a light source is the absolute temperature of an ideal black-body radiator that radiates light of a color comparable to that of the light source. How is the color temperature of a particular light source specified?

In practice, if a standard blackbody is heated from absolute zero (-273°C, i.e., 0 K), when the temperature rises to a certain level, the color starts to change gradually from deep red – light red – orange red – white to blue. In this process, when a light source and a blackbody present the same color at a temperature, we refer to the absolute temperature of the blackbody as the color temperature of the light source. As shown in Fig. 1.3.1, the color temperature of a light source ranges from 2700 K to 6500 K. Whether it comes to nature or home environment, different color temperatures will trigger different sensations.

Fig. 1.3.1 Different color temperature in interior spaces and nature

As can be seen in Fig. 1.3.1, light with a low color temperature is yellowish, and as the color temperature goes higher, the light gives off blueish rays. Since yellow is a warm color, light features a low color temperature is considered a warm light (e.g., Fig. 1.3.2 Lighting effects of a home space illuminated by a low color temperature). By the same token, blue is a cool color tone, so a high-color temperature is called a cool light (e.g., Fig. 1.3.3).

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