With all the talk of warm white and cool white, you might be wondering what the differences are and which one is best for what area of your home? We take a look at these two different types of white light so often found in bulbs and compare their uses.
There are many types of white LED light, ranging from the very warm tones or even reddy orange tones through to the very blue enriched white light seen in daylight.
The differences seem obvious between a warm color of white and a cool one, one is richer in warm tones and the other feels brighter and colder.
By knowing the differences and comparing their qualities in more detail you will be better equipt to make your comparison and choices.
The difference between a warm and cool white light is classified by its color temperature. LED light color temperature (CCT) is the measure of the hue of a specific type of light source.
Measured in degrees of Kelvin, it refers to degrees along the visible spectrum and ranges from red at 1700 – 1800K through orange-yellow (slightly less warm than yellow), bright white/blueish white, to blue at ~6000k and ultra violet above 10000K.
When choosing your LED bulb or light fixture, manufacturers tend to match these descriptions of white light with temperature:
The differences in warm or cool light are more than just looking warmer and cooler in hue, as the choice will affect everything that it illuminates.
Warm white light looks like a yellowish golden tone and provides a warm and cozy characterisitc.
It has always been the most common choice for home lighting before CFLs and LEDs became popular as it was cheaper to buy incandescent bulbs which naturally produced this kind of light over those which were cooler or brighter.
Warm white light works best in areas of relaxation and entertainment, where you want to create a warm atmosphere as the yellowish tone will soften the look of your home and will make it feel more inviting.
Warm white is best used in:
It’s not recommended for commercial spaces or offices though where cool white can be more effective for its brightening effects.
The cool white light of 4000K has the appearance of a clean bright white but must be used carefully as it can feel harsh and sterile.
The blue tone within cooler white light will give more of an impactful look that makes objects stand out, which can be good for highlighting features of your room but not so good if you want to create a warm atmosphere.
Cool white is best used in:
This is the most popular choice for offices, shops and other commercial spaces where a bright light is required for task lighting.
Cool white light is best in areas where you need a brighter, more high impact lighting such as for kitchens, but in the home ensure the cool color temperature isn’t going to spoil surrounding rooms and spaces that may be using warmer light.
Avoid using cool white LED bulbs in living rooms or bedrooms where it will be unpleasant and unflattering, but it can be useful within the task lighting of a reading light as long as the lumen output is no more than 200lm.
Daylight white light is a more modern choice and can be used in many areas of the home. It provides excellent brightness but with an extremely cool tone which makes it unflattering.
Daylight Cool white is best used in:
Avoid using the very cool white of daylight in living spaces such as bedrooms, lounges or dining rooms but great for daytime use to supplement areas of buildings that struggle to get natural daylight.
When comparing soft white vs daylight, the whiter 6000K light is seen to be used more in functional areas where task and process is a priority over ambiance and mood, such as utility areas and some office spaces.
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