What is Kelvin Temperature Scale, and LED Light Color Temperatures?

When shopping for LED screen displays or LED light fixtures, you will come across different LED lights with reference terms like  Kelvin temperature scales and LED light color temperature.  Are you wondering what these mean and how they can influence your lighting experience?

In this post,  we shine some bright light on all you need to know about the Kelvin scale and LED light color temperature mysteries! 

Table of Contents

What Is The Kelvin Temperature Scale? – An Overview

If you are in the LED lighting sector, you will come across a wide range of light fixtures to choose from depending on your illumination requirements. 

Fortunately, LED lights or LED displays emit light that you can easily identify with their different whiteness colors when switched on for your assessment. How then are the light colors quantified or measured? No, that’s where the Kelvin temperature scale comes in.

Kelvin refers to a thermodynamic temperature scale that is popularly used to measure the LED light color temperature as it is emitted from its particular source.  Therefore, It is the international measuring standard for illumination fixtures.

Initially, the Kelvin temperature was expressed in degrees Kelvin. However,  it was in  1967 that it became simply referred to as Kelvin or K. 

 The reason why Kelvin has no degree is simply because it is an absolute temperature scale with absolute zero.

Let’s dig deeper into the Kelvin scale’s history.

What Is the Kelvin Temperature Scale History?

The Kelvin temperature scale has been applied in scientific and engineering fields for many years. It got its name from a Scottish-Irish Mathematician, William Thomson. He was also referred to as  Lord Kelvin or 1st Baron Kelvin.  

He proposed it as the International System of Absolute Temperature in 1848

In the system, the zero point or 0K in the Kelvin thermodynamic temperature scale refers to absolute zero. 

Absolute zero is when a particle ceases to either move or radiate heat. So, in terms of degrees Celsius, 0K is the same temperature scale as -273.15 degrees Celsius.

You should take note that the Kelvin temperature scale relies on degrees Celsius as its increment measure. 

Therefore, a one-Kelvin increase in temperature corresponds to an increase of one degree in degrees Celsius. 

For instance, 50K(0K+50) is equivalent to (-273.15 degrees Celsius + 50) which is -223.15 degrees Celsius. More on the  Kelvin temperature scale calculations and measurements later in this article.

Why Kelvin Instead of DegreesCelsius or Fahrenheit Scales?

You may be wondering why when it comes to LED light the Kelvin scale is adopted instead of degrees Celsius.  

Scientists needed a temperature measurement that would begin at a level with no thermal radiation. That is a temperature where all molecular vibrations cease to be active. 

This became possible with the Kelvin temperature scale that begins at absolute zero.

You should remember that as the temperature of materials gets lower, their thermal energy or vibrations, or if you like, their light radiation reduce. 

At a null point or absolute zero, no more radiation or energy is emitted.

Degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit scales are not used because the two temperature scales were developed based on the freezing and boiling points of water and other solvents.  

Therefore, their measurements do not begin at absolute zero. As such, they cannot be adopted as the standard scientific temperature measuring scale.  Do you get the logic now? 

So, for more informed scientific evaluations, the Kelvin gives you a more precise temperature-measuring scale.

Kelvin vs.Celsius Temperature Scales – What’s The Difference?

Having noted why the Kelvin scale is adopted for measuring light color temperatures, let’s now explore the main differences between the Kelvin temperature scale and the Celsius scale.

  • Kelvin is an absolute temperature measuring scale and begins at absolute zero 0K while Celsius is a relative scale with its zero point which is  0°C representing the freezing temperature of water.
  • Each degree in the Kelvin scale is the same size as the degree in the Celsius scale, but the scales begin at different points.
  • The Kelvin temperature scale is commonly adopted in scientific research while the Celsius scale is for general temperature measurements.

What Is In Correlated Color Temperature in Degrees Kelvin?

Another term you will come across when dealing with LED lights and screens is Correlated Color Temperature or simply CCT.  

LED lights have color hues that you can generally distinguish visually. As a principle, the colors that are radiated by black bodies as light depend on the temperature of the light being emitted. 

Therefore, you must be able to associate a specific light temperature level with a specific visible color or hue. 

So, Correlated Color Temperature(CCT) is a measure of the light hue or color of a white light source or a light source that generally appears as white. 

In other words, because white lights are composed of different wavelengths, CCT is a measure of the whiteness of your LED light. 

It expresses the level or quality of your white LED light and is measured in degrees Kelvin. That’s now clear, isn’t it?

What Scientific Principle Is The Kelvin Temperature Based On?

By principle, you need to understand that all objects generally emit some electromagnetic radiation. 

The amount of the emitted radiation which is also known as thermal radiation is determined by the temperature of the radiations as they are emitted from the light source. 

Therefore, the color of the light or radiations you will notice from an LED light will depend on their emission temperatures. 

Now, based on this principle, we can conclude that LED displays with higher light color temperatures or higher Kelvin ratings produce “cooler” light hues

However, LED lights with low color temperatures or with lower Kelvin values produce warmer-looking light hues.

Remember This: Do not take it that the higher the kelvin rating the warmer the light. It is: The higher the kelvin values, the “cooler”  your light color temperature, and the lower the kelvin values, the “warmer” your light color temperature or appearance

Generally LED light temperatures can be between 2,000 K to 10,000 K. Therefore, the lower the temperatures, the “cooler” will be your light temperature. 

Kelvin Temperature Calculation & Measurement

How To Calculate Kelvin Temperature

#1: Get Temperature In DegreesCelsius With a Standard Thermometer

As earlier mentioned, the Kelvin temperature has its foundation on the absolute scale while the Celsius temperature scale is for reference measurements.

So, to get your temperature in Kelvin, first measure it in degrees Celsius using a standard Celsius scale thermometer. 

#2. Add 273.15  to Your Measured  Degrees Celsius Temperature

You are now aware that an absolute temperature of 0K corresponds to -273.15 degrees Celsius, right? 

Also remember that because absolute temperature starts at 0k, it must always be positive, and its increment corresponds to that of degrees Celsius.

Therefore, to get the temperature in Kelvin, simply add 273.15 to your already measured temperature in degrees Celsius. 

For instance, if your measured and recorded temperature is 50 degrees Celsius, it should be 32 +273.16 =305.15 K

Note: You can also use a thermometer calibrated to measure temperatures in kelvin. Just ensure that you give it adequate time to adjust to the surrounding temperature before taking the readings in Kelvin

What Distinguishes Kevin Scale, Color Rendering Index & R9 Ratings?

In various LED light specifications, you will find common specifications or reference terms such as Color Rendering Index or CRI and R9.

Are they related to the Kelvin scale that measures LED light color temperature? Not directly. Let’s find out the differences

Color Rendering Index

Kelvin rendering is a way of measuring the temperature of LED lights and is measured in Kelvin (K). It is used to measure the color temperature of the light, ranging from warm (yellow/orange) to cool (blue).

The Kelvin scale is simply related to measuring LED light temperatures as discussed. CRI measures your LED light colors and has a rating between 0 to 100%. 

CRI rating helps you identify how accurately your LED light source displays objects’ colors in the area you want it to illuminate. 

Therefore, the CRI rating simply guides you in choosing the right color temperature for your LED light. It is not an indicator of how hot or cold your light source is.

The lower the CRI, the warmer the colors, and the lower the LED color temperature you can choose. The higher the CRI, the cooler the light color. 

So, you should consider your LED light’s CRI ratings if you want to match different LED light colors to create your desired lighting ambiance.

What Is R9 In LED

In many lighting applications, such as photography as well as human skin appearance,  red light plays an important role. 

The R9 rating of  LED light measures the reflectance level of red light. It is a measure of how much redness of an object your light will reveal. 

The higher the R9 rating, the more red light your LED bulb or LED screen emits.  Like CRI, R9’s ratings are on a scale of 0 to 100%. A rating above 50% is good in most situations.

If your light temperature lacks a high R9 rating or value, it will not appear appealing. Natural surfaces including your skin color, or even a red apple will be too boring to look at!

No wonder bulbs that are rich in red lights such as halogens or incandescent bulbs are popular because they enhance red colors for a warmer lighting effect.

Important Note: Choosing the right CRI and R9 ratings is critical, especially for your indoor illumination. A higher CRI rating with a corresponding higher R9 rating guarantees you a perfect display

What Is Kelvin Light Color Temperature Scale Chart?

The LED Light Color temperature chart is a graphical representation of how LED light colors change with changes in Kelvin temperatures.

In the Kelvin color temperature chart, there are three major light categories namely warm light, Neutral Light, and Cold light.

Let’s briefly highlight the temperature ranges within each category:

Warm Color Temperature

This light temperature is comparable to a candlelight. It is the category of light emitted by halogen and incandescent bulbs. The color temperatures in this category range from 2800K to 3500k

Neutral Color Temperature

These capture LED lights with color temperatures from 3800K to 4500K. Neutral color temperature resembles natural light.

Cold Light Temperature

You can equate this category of light temperature to both sunny and cloudy weather. Its Kelvin color temperature is from 5000K up to 6500K. 

For LED bulbs, the temperatures which are in Kelvin, range from 1000K to 10,000K.

From the light color chart above, you will appreciate how your selection of  LED light color temperatures can greatly affect your lighting atmosphere.

What Is the Kelvin Light Color Temperature Scale?

The Kelvin light color temperature scale is the representation of the various categories of Kelvin light color temperatures. 

Below is a table showing various categories or scales of LED light color temperatures in Kelvin


Color Temperature Scales In Kelvin Light Color Description Lighting Application Area
1700K Very Warm Residential areas, especially living rooms or bedrooms.
1900K Slightly Cooler Residential areas especially in the kitchens and bathrooms
2700K Warm White Lighting in residential areas such as living rooms and bedrooms.
3000K Neutral White Commercial or industrial lighting in factories, shopping stores, offices, etc.
3500K Cool White Factories, shopping stores, offices, etc.
4000K Bright White Institutions, industrial, or commercial areas such as schools, hospitals, large office spaces, etc
5000K Daylight White Security, Outdoor, or Street Lighting
5500K Very Bright White Security, Outdoor, or Street Lighting
6000K Cool Blue-tint White color. Grand industrial or commercial spaces such as factories or warehouses
6500K Bluish-White Photography and cinematology
7000K Blue-White Studio lighting during photography or video productions.

 What Makes Kelvin Color Temperature Settings Important In LED Screens?

Allows For Screen Color Customization

Kelvin color temperatures in LED screens are critical in determining the desired display theme. With different color temperature settings, you can easily improve the viewers’ experiences.

When you desire a cooler or bluish screen LED screen display, then you need to consider LED screens with higher kelvin color ratings of up to 6500K. This will work much better for your daytime viewing.

 For “ warmer” or “redder” screen displays which are most suitable at night, a  lower color temperature setting of 3500K will be perfect for you.

Energy-Efficiency Control

Kelvin color temperatures for your LED screen are also important in controlling how much power you consume. This is because LED displays come with different color temperature settings which provide different energy-efficiency levels. 

So, if you need to limit or lower your LED screen’s energy consumption or get a more energy-efficient display,  all you need to do is set low color temperatures.

Color Temperature Accuracy & Balancing

Color temperature can be easily balanced in your  LED screen to create comfortable viewing and with enhanced accuracy on displays both indoors and outdoors.

Kelvin Color Temperature Matching Abilities

In situations where you have different LED screens in a single place such as different advertisement or promotion LED screens, you can easily match their white light temperatures to create a more harmonious display environment. 

What Are The Advantages of The Kelvin  Scale & LED Color Temperature?

Benefits of the Kelvin Temperature Scale

International Recognition

The Kelvin scale is an internationally recognized temperature measuring system. Research scientists from different continents and countries use it to compare their temperature measurement data with no risk of inconsistency.

It Does Not Change

It is an absolute temperature scale meaning it does not change. Because of this, it offers you more reliability than other scales such as degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit that rely on already defined points.

Ease In Measuring Extremely Cold Temperatures

Kelvin is a favorite temperature scale as it can measure very low temperatures which is not possible with other standard temperature measuring scales.

Ensures Consistency

Compared to other temperature measuring scales, the Kelvin scale offers superior consistency.

So, you get similar light temperature results with all thermometers. Further, the methods you adopt or the materials you use do not affect your results

High-level Accuracy

The Kelvin temperature scale provides you with high measurement accuracy of the LED light coming from its source.

This is mainly because it relies on thermodynamic laws and the Boltzmann constant. Its accuracy helps in creating your desired and consistent lighting atmosphere.

Calculation of Thermodynamic Properties

Scientists also use the Kelvin temperature scale data to evaluate thermodynamic properties like enthalpy and entropy

Low and High-Pressure Measurements

With The Kelvin scale, measuring temperatures at either high or low-pressure levels become much easier and more accurate. It is for this reason that it is commonly used in meteorology departments.

Advantages of LED Light Color Temperature Scales

Adjustable Color Temperatures

Many LED light fixture including  LED screen displays allows you to adjust color temperatures to suit your viewing requirements or preferences. 

With a simple remote, you can easily configure the most perfect color temperature for your comfortable viewing or environment illumination.

Improves Color Rendering

With Kelvin-based LED light color temperatures, you can easily enhance your color rendering to improve image displays either in your home,  shop, art gallery, or photo studio among others.

Offers Energy Consumption Guide

Color temperature values can help you evaluate your energy consumption. This can guide you in identifying and selecting the most energy-efficient lighting fixtures to suit your illumination needs.

What Should You Consider When Choosing The Kelvin Light Color Temperature?

Faced with many lighting options, choosing the most suitable LED lighting fixtures for your space can be a major challenge. 

While you can engage an expert to help you make a suitable selection, here are some of the key factors you ought to consider:

Your Wall Finish Color 

It is important that your chosen LED light color perfectly blends with your wall’s paintwork. For instance, if your wall paint has warm paintwork such as orange, beige, or orange, then a warm light color temperature will create a more welcoming and comfortable atmosphere.

However, if your wall boasts cooler colors like blue, black, or gray, then you should choose “cooler” colors ranging from 3000K to 3500K for bright illumination.

Note: Your ceiling, floor, and home decor fixtures are also critical when choosing your suitable lighting theme. Natural finishes or decor items will blend perfectly with warm color temperatures.

Your Space or Home Design

Your space’s design will also determine the light color temperature to go for to suit different areas. 

For instance, for sections that you need to stand out or have a glowing theme, you can consider a warmer white LED light

Desired Mood Or Lighting Atmosphere

In situations where you require a more calming or relaxing environment, warmer color temperatures will be your ideal choice. 

For a brighter ambiance that calls for more alertness, cooler light temperatures will be a perfect option for you.

Luckily,  you can adjust light color temperatures in LED screens to suit different application areas. 

3. Space Activities

If your lighting space is for relaxation such as watching TV or an entertainment room, warm color LED lights will create the relaxing mood that you need. 

However, if you are shopping for LED lights for study rooms, commercial working spaces, or an office, suitable cooler temperature LED lights will serve you perfectly.

What Is The Role of Kelvin Color Temperature In LED Screen Display Applications?

Application of the  Kelvin color temperatures is important in the use of LED screen displays including home TV screens. 

Fortunately, modern LED screens allow you to adjust the display color temperatures to suit your locations and viewing preferences. 

Some of the LED screen application areas where you should apply Kelvin light color temperature settings include:

Retail Shop LED Screen Displays

You will always find shopping stores with bright and visually appealing lights. Therefore, to captivate shoppers, you need LED screens with color temperature settings ranging from 5000K or 6500K. 

This color temperature range offers the desired cool lighting experience with a captivating blue-white tone.

Outdoor Advertising

For outdoor advertising needs, your focus is to captivate your target viewers from a distance. To achieve this, you require LED display screens with enhanced color temperature scales of between 5000K to 6500K

Stadium Displays

In a large outdoor space such as a stadium, your target is primarily to display screen information to a large audience.

Under these settings, apart from the need for a giant LED screen size, you need to set your LED screen to higher Kelvin color temperatures ranging from 5000K up to 6500K. This will enhance the viewing experience.

Museum Exhibits or Artwork Exhibition

At the museum, you will find LED screens for displaying documentaries or various Artworks. 

For a better viewer experience, your LED screen needs more natural lighting that gives a warm and yellow-white atmosphere. 

Therefore, LED screen displays with light temperature settings of about 3000K to 3500K suit such application areas.

Kelvin Color Temperatures In Home Theatre LED Screens

Your home theater space like other entertainment spaces requires a more relaxing viewing environment. So, an LED display kelvin color temperature of about 3000K or 3500 will be highly desirable.

Signage or Brand Message Displays

To enhance brand awareness, displaying brand identity on an LED screen to capture the attention of potential customers is important.

The message must stand out. To achieve these you need to apply a higher kelvin color temperature to your screen display.

For a cool and blue-white display that will readily capture your target viewers’ attention, an LED screen of 5000K to 6500K color temperature settings is suitable

Trade Shows

Trade Show LED screen displays ought to catch viewers’ eyes. Therefore, in such areas, you should use LED screens capable of displaying higher color temperatures within the range of 5000 to 6500K.

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