Outdoor lighting lights up the face of a South Texas home

Austin and San Antonio, Texas, are renowned for their beautiful sunsets and gorgeous nights. With the weather starting to warm up, you and your family may be looking to spend less time indoors and more time enjoying a relaxing evening under the stars. Without proper outdoor lighting, however, your time outside may be too dark for comfort, or the lights may be stealing the show from the gorgeous surrounding nature. The best way to ensure that your outdoor lighting temperature is just right is to follow this Outdoor LED lighting temperature guide from your trusted experts at Enhanced Outdoor Lighting & Design.

What Is LED Color Temperature?

Color temperature is a measurement that describes the appearance of light that comes from a light bulb. It is measured in degrees of Kelvin (K) and uses a scale between 1,000 to 10,000. The temperature of commercial and residential outdoor lighting typically falls anywhere between 2000K to 6500 K.

A Brief History of Color Temperature

The measurement of color temperature began in the late 1800s with William Kelvin as he experimented with heat and a block of carbon. As the carbon was heated, William Kelvin noticed that it produced an array of colors. The colors changed as the carbon block became hotter. The lower the temperature, the warmer the light appeared.

At the beginning of the experiment, the light was a dim red and it continued to evolve from yellow, to white, to finally a bright blue-white as the temperature continued to increase. The change of color was caused by how the carbon used the energy. The lower temperatures caused most of the energy to be converted to heat, while the higher temperatures converted the energy to light. 

Why Is Color Temperature Important for Outdoor Lighting?

Depending on where a bulb’s color temperature falls on the scale, a light’s appearance may be warmer or cooler. This is important for outdoor lighting as different areas of your outdoor space will look their best at different color temperatures. 

The lower the temperature, the warmer the appearance of the light. The higher the temperature, the cooler it looks. Remember, it is important to note that color temperature is a lighting industry term to describe the appearance of the light, not the actual temperature that the bulb needs to be to create that light.

Here are some of the most popular color temperatures here at Outdoor LED lighting and how they are most often applied:

Very Warm White (2200K)

A gorgeous outdoor lighting set up around a pool.

Also known as candlelight, this color temperature is the lowest temperature for white light. This type of LED color temperature is used to create a romantic atmosphere for your outdoor space. This shade is typically used for more low-key lighting where there is already another light source or where light that is too bright would be distracting. Some common areas where this color temperature can be found are outdoor fireplaces or outdoor spas.

Warm White (2700 K)

This color temperature creates a welcoming and friendly atmosphere that many homeowners and business owners prefer for their outdoor space. It is most commonly used near entryways of buildings or outdoor spaces.

Warm or Natural White (3000K)

This color temperature has a noticeably cooler appearance than the previous two temperatures mentioned. LED lights with this color temperature are most often used in gardens as they help highlight the beautiful greens and other natural hues of outdoor plants. With LED lighting, you can also rest assured that your plants will not suffer from burns as these bulbs do not emit heat like their incandescent and halogen counterparts.

Cool White (4000-4200K)

If you are looking for a more bluish tint to your light, cool white lights around 4000K may be the best choice for you. These lights imitate moonlight, which is good for gardens or lighting trees. This shade helps capture the minute details of leaves and vines, making them stand out and creating a pleasing visual aesthetic.

infographic for color temperatire for outdoor lighting

What About Security Lighting?

While security lighting can double as aesthetic lighting for your household, its primary purpose is to ensure that guests can easily navigate your property while reducing potential hiding spaces for intruders. Security lighting traditionally uses light temperatures that are around 4600K-6500K. Lights closer to 4600K are often used for path lighting or porch lighting as they help chase away shadows without being too blinding.

Spotlights are traditionally closer to 6500K as they create a wide expanse of light to ensure that homeowners can see all parts of their landscape when needed.

Need Help Finding the Perfect Temperature for Your Austin or San Antonio Home?

a cabin in the wood lit up with exterior lighting

If you’re looking to get the perfect lighting installed on your landscape, contact Enhanced Outdoor Lighting & Design. We’ll come up with an outdoor lighting design that will highlight all the best features of your yard and install lights with the best color temperature for each element. Contact our team today for more information on our lighting services or to schedule an appointment.

Color Temperature FAQs

How Is Light Measured?

Outdoor lighting is measured by its illuminance. This metric shows how intense light shines within a space. Illuminance is based on two units of measurement: lumens and lux.

What Are Lumens?
Lumens (lm) indicate the amount of light visible to the human eye. The higher the lumen output, the brighter and more intense the light source is.

What Is Lux?
Lux measures the number of lumens that fall on a square foot of a surface from a light source. For example, if you have a light source with 1,000 lumens and all of those lumens spread out over an area that is 1 square foot, then you have an illuminance of 1,000 lux. 

How Many Lumens Should My Outdoor Lighting Be?

Outdoor lighting should fall between 12-1,300 lumens, depending on the purpose of the lighting. For example, you wouldn’t want an intensely bright light for your outdoor living area because it could overwhelm you and your guests. However, a brighter light would work perfectly to show off gorgeous landscaping features such as statues or trees. 

Is Cool, White, or Warm White Light Better for Outdoor Lighting?

It depends on what you’re illuminating. Here is a breakdown of how to use each color temperature range.

Warm White: 2000K-3000K
Warm white light creates an intimate atmosphere that promotes calmness and relaxation. This is perfect for decorative outdoor lighting or areas such as outdoor living rooms and outdoor kitchens.
Cool White: 3100K-4500K
Cool white light is bright and vibrant, which is excellent for chasing away shadows and giving individuals a clear view of their surroundings. Using cool white light is ideal for areas that require focus for safety purposes, including the following:
1. Stairs
2. Outside of Sheds
3. Outdoor Workshops
4. Pathways

What Color Light Is Best for Gardens?

When it comes to garden lighting, you want to highlight your plants’ colors, patterns, and beauty. To make these the focal points, you should have a temperature range of 4600K-6500K. This range imitates daylight and moonlight. It is crisp and clear, bringing attention to the details of your plants.

Are LED Lights Good for Outdoor Use?

Yes! LED outdoor lighting is the best type of outdoor lighting. Here are some benefits you can expect from these lights:

1. Safer to use than traditional types of lighting as they don’t get as hot
2. Better Quality of Light
3. Higher energy efficiency, which can save on your electric bill
4. Longer life expectancy?
5. More cost-efficient than incandescent lights
6. Low maintenance
7. Durable
8. Easier to direct the light

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