Color Temperature in LED Under Cabinet Lighting

Felisberto Silva  |  October 01, 2014  |  5 Min. Read

Lighting  |  Under Cabinet Lighting

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Under-cabinet lighting has been around since the 1970’s. First as a fluorescent, then halogen, then low voltage and most recently LED.

Under cabinet is good for task and accent lighting in your kitchen, and can highlight your countertops. Just think about it – if you didn’t have lights under your upper cabinets, it would be hard to see when you plan any sort of chopping or prep work. Plus, why not also show off your new countertops with more lights?


Above, a xenon under-cabinet light by WAC Lighting. Xenon was once popular, but it became more apparent how warm the fixture and bulbs were. This became a concern for working under the area, as well as any contents of the cabinets above. These often illuminate in a warmer color temperature, usually around 2700k.


Above, an LED under-cabinet light by WAC Lighting. LEDs are becoming more popular as they are also cooler. LED does not emit heat like an incandescent bulb (halogen and low voltage are incandescent bulbs). With Kelvin temps of 2,700 to 3,500, it has similar effects to an incandescent.

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Over the past three years, LED has become the new bulb of choice. LED combines the efficiency of fluorescent with the color rendition (or color temperature) of incandescent. Many customers ask questions about the importance of color temperature of LED lights. Often, this is up to the customer and the color scheme they have going on in their kitchen. Colors are measured in Kelvin temperatures from 1,000-7,000k.


Most residential kitchens use a color temperature called “warm white,” which is measured between 2,700K and 3,500K. When you go up in Kelvin temperatures to between 3,500K and 7000K, the color emitted from the bulb is cooler in color, looking similar to fluorescent lighting.

Color Temperatures

Earth tones and woods are better illuminated with a lower Kelvin temperature between 2,700-3,500K. For this reason most kitchens are better with a lower Kelvin light source. Below is a picture of a traditional kitchen with different color lights. Cool white LED on the left, Halogen in the center under Microwave and Warm white LED on the right.


In more modern kitchens with lighter countertops and backsplashes, I would recommend to use a cooler color LED, which is closer to what is known as 5000K. This tends to make white look whiter and crisper. Higher Kelvin bulbs are better for blues and blacks as well. I also like higher Kelvin temperatures for closets for that reason.

cool-white-kelvin-temperature-kitchenIn this kitchen, LED works well with the color palette and modern design.

Key Takeaways

  • Determine the colors of your kitchen. Lower Kelvin lights work best in most kitchens, whereas the cooler, higher Kelvin bulbs work better in very modern settings.
  • Be careful, there is no regulatory authority around Kelvins, so you should look at the light yourself

Additional Resources

Download the Yale Under Cabinet Lighting Guide with features, specs and inside tips to all the brands. Well over 70,000 people have read a Yale Guide.

Under Cabinet Lighting Buying Guide

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Felisberto Silva

Felisberto Silva is a Lighting Sales Consultant at Yale Appliance. Fe has worked at Yale for over 15 years. In his spare time, he likes to spend time with his three children and traveling.

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