Outdoor spaces are often overlooked when the surroundings begin to darken. The best way to expel dark shadows is to put up artificial lighting. Lighting sets the mood of your outdoor spaces, making the atmosphere dreamy and the scenery captivating. With that in mind, which color is better for your outdoor landscape lighting, warm white or cool white?
Using cool white lights isn’t ideal for outdoor landscapes. It can make the space look unnatural, sickly, uneasy, and on edge. Instead, use warm lights with 2,700K to 3,000K. It is the ideal color temperature for outdoor and exterior landscapes for it creates a relaxing sight and welcoming outdoor space.
In this article, we will tackle which lighting is best for your outdoor space. Read on to find out!
Warm White or Cool White: Which Is Better?
Lighting plays an important role in backyard landscaping. It sets the mood and ambiance of your outdoor space. The color temperature of the lighting impacts the effect of your landscaping by tinting the light and creating a better mood.
Kelvin is a chemical unit that describes color temperature. It measures the precise color temperature of light bulbs. The higher the Kelvin value of a bulb, the whiter the light. Here are the color temperatures measured in Kelvins:
- Less than 2,000k: gives off a dim glow of light
- 2,700K to 3,500K: gives off a warm white light to bright white light
- 4,600K to 6,000K: gives off a bluish-white light
- 6,000K to 7,000K: gives off a bluish to cool white light
- 7,000K to 10,000K: gives off the daylight or natural light color
The color temperature affects the mood and atmosphere of your outdoor space. It also determines if the white light will give off a yellowish or bluish tint. Warm lights have a lower color temperature and give off a yellow tint, while cool lights have a higher color temperature and emit a whiter or bluer tint. The Kelvin value for warm light ranges from 2,200K to 3,000K. For cool white, the value is around 4,000K.
When choosing lighting fixtures for your outdoor space, make sure you or your exterior designer knows the color temperatures. Here’s a list of the color temperatures of outdoor lighting and where they are best used:
Very Warm White, 2,200K
Commonly referred to as candlelight, this is the lowest color temperature for white light. Very warm white light is ideal for low-key settings, such as a fireplace and hot tub. It is also similar to High-Pressure Sodium (HPS), which is commonly used in streetlights.
Warm White, 2,700K
Similar to halogen outdoor lighting, it is the ideal lighting for exterior landscapes. It gives a welcoming vibe and soothing effect compared to higher color temperatures.
Natural White, 3,000K
This color temperature is cooler than 2,700K and is preferred by some exterior landscape professionals as it tends to accentuate the green and blue tones of the vegetation.
Cool White, 4,000K
It has a bluish tone of 2,700K and best illuminates the blue vegetation. Cool white color temperatures are often used to simulate moonlight, which has a value of 4,200K.
Lights brighten our homes and give us some cool vibes during outdoor home parties. String lights are often used for decoration during seasonal celebrations, mostly around Christmas. You may be wondering, can you hardwire patio string lights? Read our article to find out.
Choosing the Perfect Lighting for Your Landscaping
Choosing the lighting for your outdoor space and landscape depends on the accent you want with your light. Different types of lighting work differently depending on how you want people to feel every time they are on your property. However, color temperature is often an aesthetic choice that depends on the application and where you want to put it.
Here’s where to best accentuate different lighting types.
Warm white lighting offers a soft and relaxing mood and is best to accentuate the living room, dining room, bedroom, and other rooms where you want to have soft lighting. It is also relaxing for the eyes, softens skin tones, and reduces imperfections. If you haven’t noticed, some photographers prefer using warm lights on their models as it makes them look better. Warm white lights are also ideal for outdoor spaces.
Cool white lighting is brighter than warm white lighting and helps represent the real color of an object. It is best to accentuate the kitchen, garage, product displays, workshop area, and industrial applications. Cool white lighting also provides a cleaner look.
Cool white lighting creates a modern look and is best suited for kitchen lavatory, granite counters, tiles, and other similar materials. If you plan on putting lighting under kitchen cabinets and counters, it is best to use warm white light.
Cool lighting is best suited in practical applications, while warm light is best to accentuate living areas and rooms. However, everyone has their preferences, and if you are in doubt, buy each kind of bulb to see which one you would like to accentuate in your landscape.
When adding lighting to your outdoor space, remember that “less is more.” Adding too much light to your backyard can ruin the mood you want to achieve. Instead, highlight the areas that you want to show off and what you want to stand out. Choose some good exterior features and light them in beam spread and fixture placement.
Also, know the perspective of what you’re lighting from which you will be viewing it. If you want to feature a tree, for instance, a single accent light won’t give it justice and you will not achieve the desired effect. Thus, you’ll need to add more accent lights on the viewable sides of the tree.
It is not recommended to use cooler light temperatures for outdoor spaces. The cooler temperatures can make the space look unnatural, sickly, uneasy, and on edge. Instead, use warm light with a value of 2,700K to 3,000K. It is the ideal color temperature for a backyard because it gives off a soothing and natural tone, like the glow of a campfire.
Also, warm lightning is ideal to create a relaxing and welcoming outdoor space. It sets the mood in your backyard, leaving a good impression on your guests. Keep in mind that color temperature refers to different tones in the appearance of white light.
The Basics of Landscape Lighting
Choosing the right lighting for your exterior is important so your outdoor space will fall in the right mood and ambiance. You must also have an eye for what will work best for your outdoor landscape to achieve a majestic outdoor environment through the right lighting.
Light has intensity and color, and the color Kelvin value of a lightbulb can be found on the packaging. There are different principles if you want to use light for your interior or exterior landscape, divided into three layers based on their functions, which you can find below.
- Overall lighting is the kind of lighting function that illuminates a whole room or space.
- Task lighting serves as guide lighting and is often used in pathways or walkways.
- Accent lighting provides focus and draws attention to an object or area. It is usually done with spotlights or floodlights.
Also, different types of lightbulbs serve different purposes. Here are some lightbulbs that are suitable for outdoor landscapes:
- Incandescent Bulbs
This kind of light bulb consumes more energy and has a short lifespan, but emits pleasing and attractive light.
- Halogen Bulbs
Halogen bulbs are similar to incandescent bulbs but are a better and more efficient version of them. They have a longer lifespan and consume less energy.
- Fluorescent Bulbs
Those are available in a more pleasing and attractive color range. Fluorescent bulbs have a longer lifespan and consume less energy.
- LED Landscape Lighting
LED light is an expensive type of bulb. However, its cost is just balanced by its longer lifespan and extremely low energy consumption.
On another note, if you’re adding lighting to your outdoor landscape, low voltage (12 volts) fixtures are ideal. The cable of these fixtures can run on the ground or be buried slightly above the surface. A 12-volt fixture is also safe to touch; there’s no risk of shocks if you accidentally cut the cable.
Also, layered lighting is another important tool and the basic form in an outdoor space. Layered lighting is a means by creating highs and lows in the lighting project. This helps create a mood, effect, and beauty in your outdoor space. It can be achieved by putting lights on different circuits.
Nowadays, lighting offers many possibilities, from solar lighting to cage lighting, string lights, and LED lights. These are the most popular options that could make your exterior unique, soothing, welcoming, and efficient.
If you want to supply power to your outdoor spaces such as your yard, you can do so with the use of extension cords. The downsides to this, though, is that extension cords are a tripping hazard and they are not that good to look at. What can you do about this? Can you bury an extension cord in your yard? Read our article to find out.
Outdoor spaces are often overlooked, especially when darkness comes. Lighting your backyard can go a long way because our eyes need less light outdoors than indoors for us to see light, patterns, and shadows. When starting your exterior lighting project, plan and envision how you want your outdoor space to look like.
Different people have different tastes in terms of lighting and expectations for lighting projects. But, keep in mind to choose the right color temperature based on the overall look of your surroundings, and do not flood your landscape with lights. Find the right balance between light and dark to highlight the areas that you want to stand out without ruining the overall ambience of your place. With a few strategically placed light fixtures, you can take your outdoor space to the next level.