Colour Temperature - The Coolest Light in the Hottest Flame

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Colour Temperature - The Coolest Light in the Hottest Flame

Demystifying CCT & the Colour of White Light

May 23, 2018 by Geoff Bouckley

Every day we move through spaces filled with white light – our homes, our offices, stores, restaurants, gyms, and of course the great outdoors. As you experience these different environments are you aware of how the colour of the white light changes? Have you noticed that your home and restaurants are usually a “warmer white”, your office is a “neutral white” and stores and gyms can often be described as “cool white”? This difference in the colour quality of white light is known as Colour Temperature and understanding its metrics and general effects is a key tool in architecture and lighting design.

Almost everyone has spent time by a fire; whether outdoor summer camping, indoor winter relaxing or all season barbeque cooking, fire is the common element. If you look at the fire you’ll notice that it varies in colour - from deep red glowing coals to flickering yellow and orange flames to intense blue flame cores. The difference in these colours is produced by the physical temperature of the burning gas; the blue flame cores are the physically hottest temperature, while the glowing red embers the physically coolest. This counterintuitive temperature-to-colour relationship, wherein the cool colours are hot temperatures and the warm colours are cool temperatures is the foundational concept for understanding colour temperature.

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