What Color Should Patio Lights Be? Understanding Color Temperatures

The designer of your patio should consider the color of the patio lights before installing them. This is because you will want to feel cozy and comfortable on your patio. A wrong color choice may be a sore to the eye not only for you but also for the visitors or neighbors. 

Color temperature is an important aspect when choosing the color of patio lights. You also have to take into consideration factors like types of light, sources of light, and the nature of light. In this article, we will get to understand the effects of different colors and how to choose one.

What is Color Temperature?

Designers use the term color temperature to define the character of light (how does the light feel?). It is usually measured in degrees Kelvin(K). The lower temperature readings tend to come up with warmer amber light. On the other hand, higher temperatures bring out a cooler and white light.

The reading is characterized by having a digit then followed by “K”, for example; 3000K. There is a rule of thumb that the warmer color temperatures are used mostly with architectural elements. The cooler temperatures should be used together with plant materials if you have them.

For a patio, it is recommended to go for lights on the lower end of the Kelvin Scale for values around 2000K. Such will provide warm and reddish colors to mimic the light provided by flames. You will get the same feeling as that of using tiki torches, candles, or a bonfire. The feel around the patio would be something romantic or rustic.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Color Temperature

Outdoor lighting can be a hard task to complete and thus requires you to study different elements. The outdoor lights have different color temperatures. Here are some tips to help you choose the correct light for your patio; 

  1. Plants

If your patio or garden is overwhelmed with plants, LED lighting is recommended. The color temperature range is between 3000K to 4000K. The white lighting will help in appreciating the natural look of the plants. The tints in the cooler and warmer lights make the plants appear different. You should therefore lean towards the neutral white lights. 

The moonlight technique is also a common strategy in homes and gardens. This is where the lights are placed above plants to cast shadows as if they were lit by the moon. The recommended lights have color temperatures of 4000K.

  1. Architectural Elements

The stonework, statues, fountains, decorative rocks, and arbors are elements that will go well with warm lighting. The color temperature range is between 2500K to 2700K. The warm white light often gives an inviting feel thus best for your front patio. The cool lights have been found to give the architectural elements an unnatural look and may seem annoying to some people. 

  1. Security 

As stated earlier, the higher you move up the Kelvin scale, the brighter the bulbs are. So, for security lighting, cool bright lights are often used. The color temperature range is from 4600K to 6500K. Those on the lower side of the range are used on pathways to patios or gardens. The others on the higher side of the range are used as spotlights. 

Patio Lights’ Color Finishes

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There are three unique finishes for patio lights and each brings out different feelings in you. The option will also depend on the atmosphere and event you wish to have on your patio. You should therefore understand each of the color finishes to make a better decision. These finishes include;

  1. Satin Finish

Satin finish bulbs are a popular type of patio light finish that is available in different colors. The finish is often a sign of opulence and thus used to make the patio look elegant. With their painted DIY look, you just have to install them and then enjoy.

Here are some ideas to help get started with satin finish patio bulbs;

  • To create a romantic feel on the patio, use wedding lights with different colors
  • If you are having a party on your patio, vintage designs and soft pastels will bring in some good mood
  • For a wooden patio, hang the bulbs across intertwining to add a whimsy feel to the wooden wonderland
  1. Opaque finish 

Bulbs with such a finish are smoothly frosted in that they provide a soft and diffused glow. This in turn allows for themes on your patio to stand out. The different designs include white globe lights and others are multicolored bulbs. Below are some ideas for you when using bulbs of such finish;

  • White opaque patio lights will allow your patterned fabric and unique designs in the patio to take the attention of everyone
  • For kids’ fairytale parties, use white and pink opaque lights
  • Multicolor lights hang above the patio add fun to any party
  • You can mix the colors of patio lights to create a holiday theme like that of Christmas or Halloween
  1. Transparent Finish

Transparent finished bulbs work almost everywhere. If you plan to have an official dinner or family party, then such would be a great option. The designs on your patio will be easily recognized. Here are suggestions of how to play with transparent patio lights;

  • Clear patio lights work well with any style be it modern or traditional
  • You can use multicolored transparent lights for family parties to add an essence of fun
  • Such bulbs can also be used for task lighting in your patio


You can now confidently pick the right patio light for your space if you consider the tips above. Avoid the lighting mistakes that you have realized from reading the above article and you will have a nice patio. Whether it is a family gathering or a quiet night, the patio lights should set the right mood. Go to the nearest shop, get some lights and your patio will become the envy of your friends.