To put it plainly, these numbers all refer to varying shades of white light. Each number refers to a different shade, and tri-colour refers to a fixture that has the ability to switch between all three shades. Shades of white light can range from 1000K all the way through to 10000K. However, the most commonly referred to shades are:

 

2700K – warm white (white with red undertones)

3000K – soft white (white with yellow undertones)

4000K – white (fresh)

5000K – cool white or daylight (white with blue undertones)

Tri-colour – the option to switch between 2700K, 3000K, and 4000K.

 

So, which do you choose? Well…that depends. You could go for the tri-colour option, which would allow you to choose between three tones. But what if that option is not available? Each shade of white tone has a function, with pros and cons to consider that relate to the room they fit best in! It is also important to note that the higher the ‘K number’ the higher perception of brightness.

 

2700K: Home - warm white or white with red undertones

  • Warm white is closely linked to feelings of warmth and relaxation and is used mostly in areas like the bedrooms, lounging areas, and restaurants.

3000K: Display - soft white with yellow undertones

  • Best used in kitchens and retail spaces.
  • If you live in a cooler climate, you may opt for a soft white as it has yellow undertones and can make the space feel warmer.

4000K: Office - neutral white

  • This tone is brighter than the 3000K, making the space it is installed in a more task friendly area, but still has aspects of warmth to it.
  • If you are in a warmer climate, you might opt for a cool tone to make the space feel cooler.
  • This tone makes people feel more alert and awake which is why it is used in ‘task areas’

5000K: Hospital - cool white with blue undertones

  • These tones aren’t used so much in residential and working areas due to the amount of blue light and UV emitted. These are seriously bright lights and are reserved for spaces like parking lots, hospitals, and bathrooms.

It is important to note that there is no industry standard for definitions, and different manufacturers might explain these measurements with different descriptors. Therefore, it is best to go off of the K numbers for the best indicator of tone and use.