Cool vs. soft vs. bright vs. warm white vs. daylight light bulb colors & differences

Though intangible, light is a vital aspect of home decoration. It can either make or break your desired aesthetic look. And as trivial as it sounds, few people know how to choose the right bulbs for their rooms.

Cool, soft, bright, warm, or daylight? Which light bulb colors are the best for you? And what are the key differences between them? If you’re new to this topic, you will have many questions. Thankfully, it isn’t as complicated as it sounds. In this article, we’ll tell you what colors you should use in different rooms of your house.

What is color temperature?

Color temperature tells us how we perceive light coming from a certain source. It does purely through mathematics.

Measured in Kelvins, the color temperature has a value between 1 000 and 10 000.

The lower the value, the ‘warmer’ light appears. Nowadays, we can create light bulbs with color temperatures similar to natural light.

You’re likely to interact only with color temperatures between 2 000 K to 6 500 K.

While this knowledge might seem pointless at first glance, it can help you better decorate your house. Certain areas benefit more from one type of color temperature than others.

What is warm white light?

Warm White Light

Warm white light has a color temperature from 2 700 K to 3 000K. Since it has such a low value, it has a light orange/yellowish tint.

We generally associate these colors with comfort and coziness. As a result, this type of light is perfect for rooms meant to promote relaxation. It’s an excellent choice for bedrooms, living rooms, and guest rooms.

Bulbs of this type also make for good bedside lamps or desk lamps.

Though they may be LED, their color resembles old halogen bulbs. Many people still prefer them due to nostalgia.

Our recommendation

If you wish to decorate your living room, you can’t do without this Sigalux bulb. Since it is 800 Lumens, it’s bright enough to illuminate your room. And despite the great output, it remains an eco-smart choice.

Pros

  • Once you install them, these bulbs will last a long time.
  • We love the cozy ambiance it creates.

Cons

  • The product was shipped in its original package, which makes it more fragile.
Sale
Sigalux Bulbs
950 Reviews
Sigalux Bulbs
At 2700K, these bulbs create a comfortable ambiance.
Name‎Sigalux Bulbs
Color Temperature‎2700 Kelvin
Light Color‎Soft White
Light Type‎LED
Luminous Flux‎800 Lumen
Unit Count‎4.0 Count
Voltage‎120 Volts (AC)
Wattage‎60 watts

What is cool white light?

Cool white light has a higher color temperature than its warm counterpart. This value falls between 4 000K and 5 000K.

Though it isn’t necessarily brighter than warm light, it seems that way to our eyes. As a result, it is ideal for rooms where you tend to keep busy.

If you are already an expert in this field, you are familiar with the electromagnetic spectrum of the white light. All the visible wavelengths form the white light, and they are:

  • Violet – 380 to 450 nm.
  • Blue – 450 to 495 nm.
  • Green – 495 to 570 nm.
  • Yellow – 570 to 590 nm.
  • Orange – 590 to 620 nm.
  • Red – 620 to 750 nm.

In kitchens, it can help you see what you’re doing better. On the other hand, it might not produce such a soothing atmosphere as warm light does.

For the bathroom, it’s easily the best choice. Since you need to see to shave or apply make-up clearly, you have no reason to choose anything else.

It’s perfect for office lights for the same reasons.

And lastly, we recommend using it for outdoor lights too. However, here it comes down to personal taste.

Our recommendation

This 10-pack from the Great Eagle Lighting Corporation offers great value for money. With a color temperature of 4 000 K, it’ll be perfect to light up your bathroom. After all, putting your face on is impossible without the proper lighting.

Pros

  • Very soft light, ideal for those sensitive to light.
  • Will last a long time.

Cons

  • The package took a long time to arrive.
Great Eagle Lighting
3,858 Reviews
Great Eagle Lighting
These will light up your bathroom for a long time.
Name‎Great Eagle Lighting
Color Temperature‎4000 Kelvin
Item Weight‎5.9 ounces
Light Color‎White
Light Type‎LED
Product Dimensions‎4.25 x 2.36 x 2.36 inches
Voltage‎120 Volts
Wattage‎6 watts

What is soft white light?

Soft White Light

Soft white light is close to the warm type – it has a color temperature from 3 000 K to 3 500K.

You can use it in spaces such as the kitchen and bathroom. Though it doesn’t appear as bright as cool white light, it has a much cozier look to it.

Some sources use the terms warn and soft light interchangeably.

Our recommendation

The Amazon Basics soft white bulb surprised us with its high longevity. Furthermore, we loved how cozy it made our bedroom look. Like all LED bulbs, it conserves energy well. It will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Pros

  • Ideal for all of your rooms
  • Energy efficient
  • It turns on instantly

Cons

  • A soft buzzing sound can be heard when they are on
Amazon Basics Soft White Bulb
36,086 Reviews
Amazon Basics Soft White Bulb
You can never go wrong with Amazon Basics.

What is bright white light?

Neither of these terms is scientific – you can only describe them relative to each other. Although many manufacturers use the terms soft, warm, cool, and bright light, the definitions differ.

But for the most part, bright white light is the same as cool white light. Its color temperature ranges from 4 000 K to 5 000 K. You can use it to decorate your office space and bathroom.

It also complements modern kitchen designs well.

Our recommendation

The LUXRITE bulbs are very versatile. Since they are dimmable, you can play around with the look of your kitchen and bathroom. You can turn up the brightness when you need to get something done. And towards the evening, you can lower it to save energy.

Pros

  • We like the dimmable feature
  • Active running time of up to 25,000 hours

Cons

  • Will burn out in enclosures
LUXRITE bulbs
2,928 Reviews
LUXRITE bulbs
These ones will last for up to 25,000 hours.

What are daylight bulbs?

Daylight bulbs have the highest color temperature out of all these options. The value generally falls between 5 000 K and 6 500K.

Unlike the previous options, daylight bulbs give off a typical blue hue. They mimic the appearance of natural light on a sunny day.

Because of this, they have an energetic and refreshing feel to them. Thus, daylight bulbs are perfect for garages, basements, and workshops. In short, in every place where you need clarity and vision to do your task.

Other than in private houses, you can also find this type of lighting in art galleries or department stores.

But while the final effect is great for vision, it isn’t very cozy. Therefore, you shouldn’t use it outside of these recommendations.

Our recommendation

If you aim to reach the highest visibility possible, few bulbs can match the one from LEDVANCE. This powerful bulb can turn even the blackest night into a bright day. You’ll also love its eco-smart design.

Pros

  • These are great if you are working from home
  • Superior quality ensured by a trusted company

Cons

  • Bulbs can get very hot quickly
SYLVANIA Eco LED
35,386 Reviews
SYLVANIA Eco LED
The product of a trusted company.

Comparison chart between the types

Soaking in all this knowledge can be very tiring. Luckily, we’ve decided to make things a bit easier for you. Below you’ll find a chart that concisely outlines your options along with the pros and cons.


Soft/Warm WhiteCool/Bright WhiteDaylight
Color Temperature2 700 K – 3 500 K4 000 K to 5 000 K5 000 K to 6 500 K
AppearanceOrange / YellowishWhiteWhite / Blueish undertone
EffectsPromotes relaxationNeutralPromotes alertness
When to useIf you want to create an inviting atmosphereA decent generic option for all purposesIf you want the best visibility available
Ideal roomsBedrooms and Living roomsKitchens and BathroomsGarages, Basements, and Workshops

3 differences between soft white and daylight

75w soft white light

Before you start decorating your house, you should learn the 3 major differences between soft white and daylight. They differ not only in color but also in their applications. Choosing the wrong might give your room the wrong feel, so make sure you know these differences by heart.

  1. Color Temperature

Soft white bulbs have a color temperature of about 3 000 K. The light they emit appears warm and comforting.

On the other hand, daylight bulbs have a color temperature between 5 000 K and 6 500 K. This makes them appear much stronger.

  1. Accent

Soft white light has yellowish undertones to it. Hence, it is sometimes called warm light. We commonly associate it with relaxation.

Daylight bulbs display more of the spectrum, with a slight hit of blue. Since it is more pronounced, it helps us in situations where we need to see clearly.

  1. Use

These two types of light have very different applications.

Due to its more inviting nature, soft white is a great choice for areas such as the dining room, bedroom, and living room.

Because daylight is so bright, you’ll mostly encounter it in retail environments and art galleries. When it comes to residential settings, you can use it to illuminate your basement and garage.

Daylight vs. soft white for living room

Daylight Recessed Down lights

Living rooms are a sanctuary where we can wind down after a long day. They’re also the place we invited our guests to.

Based on this knowledge, soft white is the preferable option for your living room. Since it should be as warm and welcoming as possible, this is your go-to color temperature.

If you use daylight bulbs, they might make your living room appear cold and stand-offish. While this type of illumination might be good to keep you awake and alert, this is not what you’ll want from your living area.

Nevertheless, there are two scenarios where daylight is the better choice for your living room.

For instance, you might like the modern design with a lot of dark furniture. If so, you’ll appreciate the contrast between these opposite colors.

Additionally, you might want to go with daylight if your living room’s already teeming with too many warm colors. Similarly to the previous case, it can help balance out these opposites.

But for the most part, you should go with soft white.

Warm lights for the bedroom

Regarding decorating the bedroom, warm light is the only logical option.

The warm hue can make you fall asleep faster at night. And since bedrooms are our harbors amidst the storms of our hectic lives, we’ll always appreciate the extra coziness they bring.

Unlike in the case of the living rooms, daylight is out of the question here. It will turn your bedroom into an inhospitable wilderness rather than a place of respite. And besides, no one does heavy work in their bedrooms.

Here are some of our favorite bedroom options:

Sunlite

The 12-pack from Sunlite is perfect for illuminating your whole bedroom. Thanks to the opal glass and orange undertones, it will make your room very inviting. And for so many bulbs, it’s a pretty cheap option.

OneWish

Reading makes for a great bedtime ritual. But to get the most out of this experience, you’ll need a great bedside table lamp. We suggest the one from OneWish. The opal glass makes the light gentler to the eyes, allowing you to fall asleep faster.

Pros

  • Touch control allows for easier operation.
  • We like the 3 different light modes: low, medium and high.

Cons

  • The product took a long time to arrive.
Touch Bedsite Table Lamp
261 Reviews
Touch Bedsite Table Lamp
Perfect for reading a book as you prepare for sleep.

Daylight or soft white for the bathroom

When it comes to bathrooms, you’ll rarely want to go with soft white bulbs. While they may feel warmer, they’re simply unsuitable for bathroom activities.

Since make-up has become so widely popular nowadays, many people apply it in the morning. Under soft white light, this can be tricky. Because it makes your skin appear yellowish, you might use more of it than you need to. It also distorts the ‘real’ colors of your finished make-up.

The poorer brightness might make you struggle with shaving too. It is a very delicate process that requires good visibility. Not only can poor illumination lead to a few missed spots, but also accidental cuts.

Thus, you’ll need cool white or even daylight for your bathroom. Both are solid options, and the final choice depends on your preferences.

The brighter tones of these two lights will make your daily routine much easier.

You can invest in a ring light if you want to use soft white. It will improve your visibility while you prepare yourself for the day ahead.

Soft white or daylight LED for the kitchen

Both soft white and daylight LED are good options for the kitchen. Ultimately, it comes down to your preference.

Soft white is a little gentler on the eyes. If you like to feel warm and fuzzy while cooking your favorite dishes, you can’t go wrong with it.

On the other hand, daylight can give your kitchen a much more sanitary look. Since it is brighter, it will improve your visibility too.

Alternatively, you can invest in different bulbs and combine them in your setting. This way, you can switch between the two sets at will.

Can I use LED bulbs in a refrigerator?

As LED bulbs continue to dominate the market, more and more people seek to replace their old-fashion models. It extends to refrigerators as well.

Despite the low temperature, you can use LED bulbs in your fridge. However, you should only do so if the old bulbs don’t work as well anymore. Otherwise, it’s a waste of effort.

As for the color temperature, it comes down to your taste. We prefer using cool white because it provides better illumination. However, you can’t go wrong with warmer colors, either.

FAQ

Is daylight better than cool white?

In terms of brightness, daylight is better than cool white. Since it has a much higher color temperature, it appears brighter.

It makes it perfect for rooms where you need to see clearly. It includes workshops and garages.

However, daylight isn’t always the best option. Though very clear, it lacks warm orange and yellow hues. It isn’t very cozy, and thus you shouldn’t use it in your living areas.

Is cool white the brightest?

Cool white is brighter than warm or soft light. However, daylight is the brightest lighting type. Though its color temperature can be as high as 6 5000 K. This results in powerful illumination.

While cool white is great for your kitchens and bathrooms, it might not be enough for garages and workshops. In these areas, we recommend using daylight instead.

Conclusion

To sum up, each of these bulb types has its distinct use. When it comes to deciding between cool, soft, bright, warm, or daylight light bulb colors, you need to understand their major difference.

Warm and soft tones are perfect in residential houses, namely in bedrooms and living rooms. They radiate a very relaxing yellowish light, making you feel safe and comfortable.

Cool and bright tones lack the yellowish hue. Because they’re whiter, they appear much brighter. This improved visibility makes them excellent for illuminating bathrooms or kitchens.

And lastly, daylight truly shines in commercial settings. You can find it in many stores and gallery displays. You use it in your home too. But due to its high brightness, it’s only necessary for basements and garages.