What is color temperature?

Color temperature is the color of light emitted by an idealized opaque, non-reflective body at a particular temperature measured in kelvins. The color temperature scale is used to categorize the color of light emitted by other light sources regardless of their temperature.

Color temperatures over 5000 K are called “cool colors” (bluish), while lower color temperatures (2700–3000 K) are called “warm colors” (yellowish). “Warm” in this context is an analogy to a radiated heat flux of traditional incandescent lighting rather than temperature. The spectral peak of warm-colored light is closer to infrared, and most natural warm-colored light sources emit significant infrared radiation. The fact that “warm” lighting in this sense actually has a “cooler” color temperature often leads to confusion.