How Do I Choose An Exterior Light Color

How Do I Choose An Exterior Light Color?


Deciding on your exterior light color is one of the most important choices that you can make when planning how that exterior will appear. 

With that said, keep in mind that these colors are tints that are generally not visible to the naked eye although the differences are more apparent when different colored tints are placed next to each other. Regardless, the aesthetic aspect of this decision is more so based on the amount of light and heat that are given off.

Temperature Differences

Exterior light temperatures are measured in Kelvin, generally ranging from 1,000 kelvins (1,340 degrees Fahrenheit) to 10,000 kelvins (17,540 degrees Fahrenheit). 

The coolest temperatures that are utilized in exterior lights are red while the hottest are blue, which is generally the opposite of how many view those two colors as they relate to temperatures. Between those two extremes, ranging from cooler to hotter, are yellow and white. 

To give you a reference, note that most incandescent light bulbs are roughly 2,700 kelvins.


You should take a number of factors into account when deciding which exterior light color or colors to use. These include what type of mood you want to set, how you want to design your exterior, both in general and in specific areas, and how to best ensure that your property is kept safe and is securely lit where necessary. 

Lighted Path

Common Options

Are you looking for a more romantic setting with relatively minimal lighting ideas? Or perhaps you want to highlight plants or architectural features in this type of manner. 

In the former case, consider something around 2,200 kelvins, which is the lower limit of white light; any lower and it will be more yellow than white. This provides you with candlelight-type settings and is best for cozy and intimate environments. 

In the latter case, look for a whiter light with just a hint of yellow, which will be at about 2,700 kelvins. This is still a soothing choice while it does better at highlighting the immediate landscape than the cooler option of those two. Or perhaps consider a more pure white, found at 3,000 kelvins, which is more often recommended when vegetation being the focus is the case. Also note that some types of vegetation, such as blue spruce, may be better lit at 4,000 kelvins, which would be a much more bluish shade of white. 

Now, if you want to have an optimal temperature and color for moonlighting, for mimicking natural moonlight as closely as possible, you will want to go just a little higher than the last option. The best option for this focus is at around 4,200 kelvins, a slightly more bluish white. 

However, if security is much more so your focus, then you are going to want to go even higher than the previous suggestions. Consider something around 5,500 kelvins, which will be much more blue than it would be white. This selection will light up everything in the immediate vicinity in detail, which is perfect for those looking to create a highly secure area. You may also want to use this type of lighting for aesthetic reasons, such as if you want to ensure that all of a fountain’s features are highlighted. 

Also keep in mind that you will want to utilize bluer shades, such as those found at 4,200 kelvins and higher, for areas where seeing where you are walking is important. For example, to illuminate stairs. 

Another consideration to make is how you want to light different areas of the exterior of your home or business. You most likely do not want to light your entire exterior in the same shade of color and degree of lighting. Perhaps you want to have a romantic nook be lit in a reddish shade, a deck to relax in be illuminated in pure white and exterior stairs leading to a second floor to receive a more bluish color. 

Assistance in Deciding

If you are looking for assistance in deciding which colors to use for your exterior, reach out to us at Washington Outdoor Lighting, and we will discuss which options may work best for you. We can be reached at (425) 765-4107 or through our website.


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