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Correlated Color Temperature

Describes the color output of the lamp itself.

The color temperature of a light source is the temperature of an ideal black-body radiator that radiates light of a color comparable to that of the light source. Color temperature is a characteristic of visible light that has important applications in lighting, photography, videography, publishing, manufacturing, astrophysics, horticulture, and other fields. In practice, color temperature is meaningful only for light sources that do in fact correspond somewhat closely to the radiation of some black body, i.e., light in a range going from red to orange to yellow to white to blueish white; it does not make sense to speak of the color temperature of, e.g., a green or a purple light. Color temperature is conventionally expressed in kelvins, using the symbol K, a unit of measure for absolute 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.

Key Terms

color
color temperature
color temperatures
ideal black body radiator
important applications lighting
light
light source
sense
temperature
visible light

Additional Resources

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Acronymn

CCT

Synonymns

Correlated Color Temperature
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Last modified on December 2 2019
Content adapted from Wikipedia
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