With LED bulbs, the most popular choices are “soft white” or “warm white” LED bulbs. The colour of LED bulbs is measured with the help of the Kelvin (K) scale. For instance, soft white or warm white LED bulbs are 2700K to 3000K. These colour temperatures are best suited for residential installations, particularly living rooms and bedrooms.
You are likely to come across several other names, such as “cool white”, “neutral white”, “daylight”, and “bright white”. While at the first glance, they may all look pretty much the same, they are actually quite different. They can denote a range of colour temperature options, from 4000K to 6000K.
Which begs the question: How can you make an informed decision when shopping for LED light bulbs?
Well, honestly there’s only one way. Get familiar with different colour options, and this includes knowing what to expect with each colour option.
In this post, we’ll talk in detail about the 4000K colour temperature option to help you decide if it’s right for your needs.
What does 4000K light looks like?
4000K falls somewhere in the middle of warm white colour option, which is in the range of 2700K/3000K, and daylight white option, which falls in the range of 5000K/6000K.
In comparison with warm white light bulbs, 4000K LED bulbs are on the “cool” side. However, they are certainly on the “warm” side when you stack them against daylight white light bulbs.
4000K colour temperatures can be often seen in office spaces as well as in retail shops. Sunlight during the morning hours also has this colour temperature.
So as you may guess, 4000K is a good option for anyone looking for lighting that has a tad bit more crispness and clarity but is not overly stark or blue.
Do 4000K LED bulbs emit light similar to daylight?
It’s never easy to compare artificial light with sunlight. That’s because the latter is constantly changing, depending on the time of day, season, and weather. While the sun’s colour temperature is nearly 5800K, natural daylight can vary greatly, depending on the sky colour.
The general rule of thumb is the more orange/red the sky, the lower the colour temperature. And the more bluish is the sky colour, the higher is the colour temperature. In other words, natural daylight has a lower colour temperature in morning than in mid-day.
For this reason, you will see that the light emitted by 4000K light bulbs is similar to the sunlight during morning or early afternoon hours.
However, just because the light emitted by an LED light bulb is similar to sunlight doesn’t imply that it will have the exact light spectrum as the sunlight. In case you need lighting for tasks that are colour critical, you must also look at its colour rendering index (CRI).
Colour rendering index (CRI) tells how closely a light reproduces the colours of the object it illuminates. The scale for measuring CRI ranges from 0 – 100. Any light with a reading of 90 and more is regarded exceptionally good. In contrast, if the reading is 80 or less, the quality of light is likely to be poor.
The thing about LED bulbs with a reading of CRI90+ is that they don’t produce blue light (which can be quite harmful). However, bulbs with lower score may give blue light, and so should be avoided. Also, CRI90+ LED bulbs emit the most balanced light and as such are right for colour-critical jobs.
Does 4000K light come across as too blue or too yellow?
The human eye adapts to ambient lighting in a quiet impressive way. That means the appearance of ambient lighting can vary depending on what your eyes have adapted to.
For example, you install 4000K LED lights in the kitchen, while the living room has 3000K lighting. Now if you walk into the kitchen from the living room in the evening, the kitchen light is likely to look crispier and whiter. Will it look too blue? No, that is not likely. But the light in the kitchen will definitely seem more intense.
On the other hand if you enter the kitchen after being outside during the day, the lighting is likely to feel more yellow. The reason for this is that when you were outside, your eyes had adapted themselves to natural daylight, which, as you know, has an extremely high colour temperature, in the range of 6500K or above.
You might have experienced this upon entering retail stores. During daylight hours, the light inside might have come across as a little yellow. However, when you walk into the same shop at night, the lighting looks crisper. In other words, the same 4000K lighting looks different to you at different times.
Based on research, we can confidently say that while 4000K lighting may come off as too yellow in comparison with sunlight, it is unlikely to look too blue when compared with warm-white or incandescent lighting.
Because 4000K colour temperature is close to residential warm-white colour and not too far away from sunlight, it is a good colour temperature option for different spaces.
Where 4000K LED light bulbs should be installed?
You can confidently use 4000K colour temperature in retail and office spaces. It can also be a good option for places in your home where you desire a lot of colour clarity. For instance, you can install 4000K LED bulbs in your kitchen as well as food preparation areas. You can also use them in your bathrooms as well as in vanity areas.