Have you ever stood in the middle of your local hardware store light bulb aisle, wondering which smart bulb color would be best for your home? The issue with many bulb colors is that they all sound the same. Isn’t white just white? Warm white light vs soft white, daylight vs. cool white—isn’t white just white? Why do some “white” light bulbs appear yellow?
Let’s look at how to decipher those color designations and determine which light bulb temperature is best for your smart home and personal preference.
Warm White vs Soft White vs Daylight Bulbs
The first thing you should know about the battle of the bulbs is that each type of white bulb represents a different reference point on the Kelvin scale. This scale represents the color temperature of a light bulb. The term “color temperature” originated with incandescent bulbs and referred to the color of the metal element inside the bulb. The color of the light changed from a yellowish glow to a bright bluish-white as the temperature of the metal element increased.
There are numerous resources available to help you learn more about the relationship between color and temperature. To understand how to read the color temperature of specific bulbs, you don’t need to know all of the science.
What you should know is that each Kelvin value represents a degree of “warmth” or “coolness.” The greater the value, the cooler or less yellow the bulb will appear.
Soft white and warm white bulbs are at the low end of the light spectrum. Soft white bulbs are typically around 2,700K. Warm white bulbs, despite their name, are slightly less warm at around 3,000-4,000k.
At the other end of the spectrum are cool white bulbs with a Kelvin temperature of around 4,000k and daylight bulbs with a Kelvin temperature of 5,000-6,500k.
Daylight bulbs emit a bright light, with blueish tones that resembles the sun’s natural light.
The Influence of Lighting on Mood
You’ve probably heard the phrase “mood lighting” to describe a dimly lit or romantic setting. Consider the color temperature of this type of lighting. Is it bright and fluorescent, or cozy and inviting, like a crackling fire? Isn’t it more likely the latter?
It’s no secret that light has an impact on how people feel. According to a study conducted by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, light is the most important cue in regulating many biochemical and physiological processes.
Warm light makes people feel relaxed and at ease. Cooler light, on the other hand, tends to energize and excite most people. That’s why relaxing on a sunny beach feels so good. It’s also why being trapped under fluorescent lighting for hours on end can be exhausting.
Cooler lighting is beneficial in most office settings because it keeps employees alert and productive. However, according to another study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology, excessive blue light—light emitted at higher temperatures—can impair a person’s ability to sleep properly.
Some companies, such as Apple, even provide Night Shift, which disables blue light from mobile devices at specific times of the day.
***Refer to more: Top 7 Best Mood Lights For The Bedroom 2022 [Expert’s Choices]
Choosing an Appropriate Light Temperature
Could you imagine walking into an office with lighting that resembled a dinner date? Or how about a fireside chat under the glare of fluorescent lights? As you can see, choosing the proper lighting temperature is critical. But how should you go about it?
So, we’ve put together a list of the best lighting temperatures for each room. Understand that these are only suggestions because the color temperature you choose is influenced by your personal preferences.
If you want your bedroom to look like a sunny day when you turn on the lights in the morning, use daylight or cool white bulbs. Just keep in mind that if you use these lights at night, you will most likely get less sleep.
Living areas and kitchens benefit from both soft and warm light: 2,700-3,500K. You want your kitchen and living areas to be relaxing and comfortable. Dimmer switches are also useful in this situation. Additionally, if you watch television in your living room, you may want to invest in a blue-light-blocking screen protector for your television. These protectors ensure that you can still get a good night’s sleep after binge-watching your favorite series.
Bedrooms: 3,000K soft white bulbs work well in bedroom areas. This is the temperature of most incandescent bulbs. Bedrooms, like living rooms, do not usually benefit from cooler temperature lighting. However, if you have a vanity, a few cool white bulbs can help you see contrast much better than warmer counterparts.
Bathrooms: Warm to cool white (3,500-5,000K) is best for bathrooms. This temperature range is entirely subjective, but super-cold bulbs aren’t always the best choice for this application. Cooler bulbs, on the other hand, are ideal for applying makeup, and blue light highlights chrome fixtures. If you have several of these fixtures in your bathroom or want the extra contrast that cooler bulbs provide, don’t be afraid to experiment with them.
Offices/garages: These are the best places to use cooler white bulbs (4,000-6,500K). Daylight color temperature or bright white light for will provide higher light intensity. Using these bulbs will make you feel more energized when you need to get some work done.
***Refer to more: Best Daylight Lamp for Office: Top 8 Expert’s Choices of 2022
A Reminder About Lumens, CRI, and Watts
While color temperature is important in determining mood, bulb brightness should also be considered.
At any temperature, too much light is just as bad as not enough. While lighting is measured in lumens, wattage is still an important factor in determining bulb brightness in incandescent bulbs.
Previously, wattage could be used to predict how bright a bulb would be. LED bulbs, on the other hand, consume far less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. For example, a 60W incandescent will emit far less light than an equivalent LED. An LED would only consume 8-12W for the same lumen output.
Lumens should be your primary indicator of bulb brightness if you’ve converted your smart home to LEDs. A lumen and wattage calculator can assist you in determining how many lights you need in a room.
Another value you may come across in your search for smart lighting is the color-rendering index (CRI). This value represents the color accuracy that light can reproduce. CRI is especially important in photography. CRI values of 90 or higher typically indicate a more color-accurate bulb.
Take Advantage of Your Ideal Smart Home Lighting
While navigating the proper lighting for your space can be difficult at times, once you understand how the color temperature scale works, you can easily choose the lighting that works best for you. Understanding how lighting affects mood can also help you decide how to light your space.
It doesn’t have to be difficult to find great lighting for your smart home. You should also feel free to experiment. When it comes to lighting, there are no hard and fast rules. Choose what works best for you, whether it’s a cooler kitchen or a warmer bathroom.
Your smart home should always be a place where you feel at ease, and having lighting that you enjoy is one of the simplest ways to achieve that.
Smart bulbs are another area where you can save money when constructing a smart home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it better to use warm white or soft white?
The color temperature of light bulbs is broken down as follows: Soft white is a warm and yellow color that ranges from 2,700 to 3,000 Kelvin, similar to the color range produced by incandescent bulbs. This light provides a warm and cozy atmosphere and is frequently used in living rooms, dens, and bedrooms. Warm white with a yellowish cast that ranges from 3,000 to 4,000 Kelvin.
Is it possible to combine soft white and daylight?
It is also possible to mix cool and warm white bulbs in the same room, particularly in the kitchen, where warm yellow glows are used during the day but under shelving or cabinets can be enhanced with cool white lights after the warm whites are turned off at night.
Is soft white appropriate for the bathroom?
Again, soft-white LEDs are a good choice, particularly A-shaped bulbs that are also good for reading. Color temperatures in the bright-white to daylight range of 5000K – 6500K are ideal for true color accuracy and clarity in the bathroom, as opposed to the bedrooms.
Is warm lighting conducive to reading?
Warm Light: Assists in relaxation; many users report that they sleep better after reading in warm light than in white light. This type of light is gentler on the eyes by its color and by the smaller number of lumens that the lamp offers.
Is warm white appropriate for bathrooms?
Warm white is ideal for larger living spaces where a welcoming atmosphere is desired. Extensive research has shown that ‘daylight’ LED lighting is preferable in bathrooms where you want the space to look and feel clean.
In a nutshell, now you know the difference between warm white vs soft white. Soft white is the same as warm white; they are just called differently by different people. When it comes to LED lighting colors, warm white appears to be more professional.
If you have any further questions, please leave them in the comments section below and we will do our best to answer them.