Color temperature is a number that describes how “yellow” or “blue” a light’s color is. Below we provide some guidelines, but keep in mind that there is no absolutely correct choice, and much of it can be based on your personal preference.
- 2700K is considered the same color as the classic incandescent light bulb
- 3000K is slightly bluer and is similar to halogen bulb light color, but still has a warm, inviting yellow color to it.
- 4000K is often called “neutral white” because it is neither blue nor yellow – and is the middle of the color temperature scale.
- 5000K is commonly used for determining color, such as for prints and textiles
- 6500K is considered natural daylight, and is a good way to approximate appearance in outdoor lighting conditions
The Best Color Temperature for Under Cabinet Lighting
Though it might seem like a small detail, color temperature is an EXTREMELY important decision that has a huge impact on the final look of the under cabinet lighting. If you’re not familiar with color temperature, here is a really quick rundown:
All light has a color “temperature” that is is expressed in kelvins (“K” for short).
A color temperature in the 5000K range would be more of a “cool” temperature that in some settings could appear a little bluish.
2700-3400K would be more of a “warm” color. Some would maybe call this “yellowish,” and it would be in the color temperature range of an old standard incandescent light bulb.
If you like the feeling of the super bright and “bluish” fluorescent lighting you would find in a big office building, you may like a color temperature in the 5000K to 6000K range.
If you prefer more of that softer and warmer feeling, you may like light in the 2700K to 3400K range.
The Color Temperature We Chose
Fortunately, the color temperature decision was an easy one for us. We did a lot of research and chose a 3000K color temperature.
I think it looks it’s the perfect balance. Any “warmer” (lower kelvin) and it would be too yellow or too orange. Any “cooler” (higher kelvin) and the light would feel too blue and harsh. 3000K has been our go-to color temperature ever since.
If your entire kitchen already uses 3000K lights, you may want to make sure our under cabinet lighting matched. Fortunately, there are lots of LED light strip options in 3000K.
If you are unsure what white light “color temperature” to choose, there are some dynamic tunable white LED options. Many of these allow you to “tune” the color temperature from 2700K to 6200K and everywhere in between. The downside is that these tunable lights are more expensive than static color temperature lights of the same quality.
So, for kitchen applications, we strongly recommend a color temperature between 3000K and 4000K.
lights below 3000K will cast a very yellowish-orange hue, which can make color perception a bit difficult if you are using the area for food prep, so we don’t recommend any lighting below 3000K.
Higher color temperatures allow for better color acuity. 4000K provides a nice, balanced white that no longer has much of a yellow/orange bias, making it more easier to “see” colors properly.
Unless you’re lighting an industrial area where “daylight” color is necessary, we strongly recommend staying below 4000K, especially for residential under cabinet lighting applications. This is simply because the rest of the kitchen and home likely has 2700K or 3000K lighting – if you suddenly install something too “cool” for the kitchen, you may end up with an unsightly color mismatch.