Posted on February 25, 2015

Lighting Basics - What is Color?

When talking about lighting, the topic of color is often the driving force behind product selection. It’s a word we have all used so much in different context. We have been talking about color since we were toddlers. It’s one of the first things we are taught (in addition to numbers), but technically, in itself – it doesn't exist. So, that begs the question – what is “color?”

Color is only a perception; it is what we perceive of light. Webster’s dictionary defines color as a noun; a phenomenon of light or visual perception. The term “color” is used in a large spectrum of fields – science, medical, engineering, art and geology, just to name a few. Everyone from artists to physicists have taken a shot at an interpretation of color. Einstein, Newton and Da Vinci – they all tried to define and understand the world of light and color.

Using the electromagnetic spectrum as a “scientific” point of reference, visible light that is perceived as color to the human eye is but a small section, as you can see in the image above.

Isaac Newton did much work with light, color and optics. It was Newton who was able to conclude that when a finite number of spectral colors are combined, they produce white light. This is called additive color. All colors that we “see”, or perceive, are created by what we refer to as additive primary colors – red, green and blue (RGB).

Some of you may be thinking – “But that’s not what I learned as a kid!” Everyone knows that you get green by mixing blue and yellow, right? That is also true. Color that you perceive on physical media like paper, canvas and billboards uses the Subtractive Color model – commonly red, yellow and blue; but more accurately magenta, yellow and cyan.  

LEDs use additive color combining RGB to achieve the closest thing to “natural” daylight. So if you are looking to see “true” colors with full electromagnetic wavelengths check out LEDs!

About Solais Lighting Group: Solais + EnergyLite design and manufacture the lighting industry's highest-performing LED lamps and fixtures. With superior lumen output, center-beam candlepower, and overall aesthetics and performance, Solais Lighting Groupís LED products enhance the retail, supermarket, commercial, museum, hospitality and utility environments of the world's leading brands. Solais Lighting Group relentlessly pushes the innovation envelope to create products that replace traditional lighting technologies with zero compromise to aesthetics and performance. To learn more about Solais Lighting Group, visit us in person in Frisco, Texas, or online at

Two of our new product lines are now available to order!
The XC3, XC5 and XC7 modular cylinders come in a variety of finishes and mounting options. The WW asymmetrical track wall wash fixtures come in two sizes. Yoke mount versions are coming soon!