BRIGHT VS BRIGHT – A Common Misconception in the Lighting Industry

When someone says those lights are bright, what is the first thing that comes to mind?  Most people associate the word “bright” with the color temperature of the light or CCT.  Color temperature is measured in Kelvin, and ranges from about 1800K-6500K.  When related to the color spectrum 1800K at the lower end would be very orangish (warmer), working through the white colors in the middle range (4000-5000K), to the higher range (6500K) which would appear blueish in color (cooler).

These different color temperatures not only look different visually, but there should be careful consideration into which color is chosen depending upon the environment and type of business they are installed in. Depending upon which color temperature you choose it will change the look of the objects and surfaces that are being illuminated. For example, red meats in a grocery store should be illuminated by a warmer color temperature light to bring out the colors and make them look fresh. Conversely, if you were to use a cooler color temperature like a 5000k lamp it would make the meats appear with a brownish color, making the meats appear old and unappealing to the customer.

A common market that people seem to struggle with a misconception between the proper color temperatures and light output are hotels. The goal of lighting in a hotel is to make the guest feel welcome and comfortable and that they are in a “homey” environment which most often means a warmer color temperature, like the look of the original incandescent lighting. Often in hotel rooms and hotel hallways, hotel owners want to make sure that they are “bright” enough for their guests. Too often, they equate that to choosing the wrong color temperature. They choose a higher color temperature with not enough light output to achieve the proper brightness which ends up washing out the walls and creating a sterile look to the environment. This is where there is value to reaching out to a lighting professional to make sure you have the right color temperature and adequate amount of light for your space.  Often a hotelier will want to get the least expensive option but also get the value of the best bang for your buck.  They choose a lower wattage which does not offer enough light output with a harsher higher color temperature like a 5000K because they want the brightest, they can get out of a lower wattage, less expensive wattage.  The proper way to light the space here is to choose a warmer lower color temperature (2700K or 3000K) at a higher light output.  This way it maintains the ambiance, and has a much more comfortable feel to the space but still provides adequate lighting.

Having a 5000K lamp in the bedside lamps in a hotel room could also throw off someone’s circadian rhythm and prevent a guest from sleeping as well.  It is very interesting how there are scientific implications to lighting as well, but more on that in the next post.

For assistance with retrofitting or designing your space, please feel free to reach out to