Warm White vs Cool White: Which Should You Choose?

How has white become a complicated subject where a consumer now needs to choose the best shade of white?

Variety is the spice of life, according to Willian Cowper’s poem “The Task”. Over the last decades, lighting has come on leaps and bounds in technology and what it can offer consumers to enhance their homes. Most folks appreciate the nuance that lighting shades can bring to the home.

Is cool white or warm white better for eyes?

Warm light. Cool white light contains more blue light and appears brighter to the eyes; hence cool white light has a higher lumen output than warm white lights, which explains why they are brighter.

Did you know that people who originate or still live in a country with more sun daylight than overcast daylight prefer white light over warm light compared to their counterparts living in cooler climates!

Which is brighter, cool white or warm white?

Cool white. It may seem counterintuitive, but cool lighting is brighter than warm lighting, generally by a margin of 5%.

Colour temperatures

Traditionally you never had to be concerned about the colour temperature of a bulb. You just purchased a bulb that would illuminate your space as you wanted.

However, LEDs can offer some variations in colour in terms of white cool to white warm that are thought to enhance different spaces in the home.

Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT) describes how the colour is perceived in a lamp measured in Kelvins.

You may recognise Kelvins as a measure of absolute temperature and not as a light measurement.

The Kelvin ranges from 1000K to 10,000K. The lower end of the spectrum has a more red light classed as the warm light range. The higher the end is more akin to daylight.

It may seem confusing, but the K rating does not indicate the bulb temperature but the colour it emits.

The below table indicates the CCT.

KelvinsType of lampColour
1000kCandlelight Red/Yellow
1800kVintage-look Filament Lamp – OrangeUltra Warm
2400kLamp style used in hospitalityVery Warm
2700kConventional Halogen and LED Lamp – YellowWarm
3000kWarm White
4000kCFL and LED – WhiteCool White
5000kDaylight
6000-7000kCool Daylight
10,000kBlue Sky – Blue

What are the rules for lighting?

No rules. There are no rules for lighting, and this is why being able to choose from the CCT range is exciting and adds to the variety of life that most folks enjoy.

Although there are no hard and fast rules for lighting, commercial establishments may want to set the mood in the office or store.

For instance, people who work through the night in, say, an international call centre would undoubtedly choose a light near daylight. Why? To prevent their staff from feeling sleepy.

Conversely, if you have a bakery shop selling high-end patisseries, you may want a soft light to make your products look as good as they taste.

The good thing with the lighting is you can experiment affordably.

Where is the best place to use these lights in the home?

It is a personal preference. If you have a minimalistic modern style Scandinavian kitchen, you may want a stark bright light.

Softer lighting would be more suitable if you have a farm-style kitchen full of warm wood hues.

Here are some suggestions:

  • White to cool white- Home office, bathroom, study, kitchen, utility area
  • Warm to warm white- Living room, bedroom, landing, hallway
  • Daylight- commercial establishments such as retail stores for electrical products, showrooms and many more

How do you choose the right bulb?

Check the pack. Lighting packs should be marked, and if not, you can check the colour temperature setting on the bulb’s base, such as 4000K.

With so many bulbs available from different manufacturers, you will need to have continuity, so select the same bulb from the same manufacturer even if you mix and match bulbs around the home.

While you are in the store, consider buying spares simultaneously so you can be sure your products are all the same.

What kind of bulb gives you the best true colour?

Cool white light is closest to daylight. It reported that the Philips(CRI) bulb gives the best true blue light experience due to the light’s stable output.

What light bulbs do interior designers use?

LEDs. All other bulbs are being phased out, so now you can only buy LED bulbs for environmental purposes.

But the good news is that LEDs are versatile and give great lighting options while keeping your energy bills lower.

What light bulbs are most flattering?

2700 Kelvins. We all want to look our very best, and certain lights can highlight imperfections such as eye bags and skin blemishes.

It’s estimated that warmer lights such as a 2700K or 3000K bulb would make you look the best as the light is warm with red tones.

How do you choose the temperature of a bulb?

If you have a preferred temperature, check the bulb’s packaging or the base of the bulb where it will be stamped.

  • 2700k-3000K Is a warm temperature or soft white range suited to your home areas where you normally relax.
  • 35K-4500K I a more neutral shade of white, neither warm nor cool and is the perfect balance between both shades.
  • Over 5000K These are generally referred to as closer to daylight than the other ratings. If your kids struggle to wake up in the morning, it’s the perfect bulb to wake them up.

However, some people prefer a certain colour and use it everywhere in their home.

There is a range of bulbs and fittings that can be controlled via an app, and you can alter the white shades and introduce other colours. These are popular in bedrooms.

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