Understanding the Difference Between Different “White” Lights

You’ve made it to your local store and even found the correct aisle, but now you are overwhelmed by amount of different types of light bulbs. Buying a lightbulb is more than just knowing the shape of the bulb, the type of threaded fitting, and the wattage of the bulb. You also have the option of what type of “white” light you would like to purchase: do you want warm, cool, neutral, or somewhere in between. We hope to help you with your choice as we introduce you to different types of white lights.

difference white lights

Colour temperature is how light appears that is being provided by a lightbulb and it is rated in Kelvin. The Kelvin rating is represented by the temperature that the metal is heated up to so the object appears to glow. The chart below shares the spectrum of Kelvin rating and what type of white light is represented by that Kelvin rating.


Kelvins (K)Type of FixtureColour
1000 KCandle flameRed/yellow
1800 KVintage lampUltra warm (orange)
2400 KHospitality lampVery warm
2700 KHalogen & LEDWarm (yellow)
3000 KWarm white
4000 KCFL & LEDCool white (white)
5000 KDaylight
6000 KCool daylight
10000 KBlue skyBlue

Light Colour

Warm White Light

Warm white light is a soft hue with red and yellow tones to the colour of the light emitted by the lightbulb. The colour most readily associated with warm white light is the red and yellows of a sunny day. On the Kelvin scale warm white lightbulbs range from 2800-3000K and halogen bulbs are the go-to choice if warm white light is your desired light colour. Warm white light is the ideal light colour where you want to create a cozy atmosphere like the living room and bedroom.

Cool White Light

Cool white light is brighter and clearer that warm white light that emits a slight blue tint. The effect of cool white light has been described as having an icy effect when using cool white light. On the Kelvin scale cool white lightbulbs range from 5000-6000K. Cool white light is usually chosen in kitchens and white bathrooms in the home and hospitals outside of the home. This colour range is chosen for these areas because cool white light emits a colour suitable for areas where being able to see is essential to what you are doing.

Natural Light

The colour of natural light is found between warm and cool light temperatures. Natural light is less diluted by other colours such as the reds of warm light and blues of cool light. On the Kelvin scale natural colour lightbulbs range around 4000K on the Kelvin scale. Most often natural light colour is used when an accurate colour needs to be represented in the lit area; so in areas office buildings and to illuminate signage.


Warm White vs Cool White

There are no laws that dictate what light colour has to be in each area of your home or business. The colour of light that you choose is your personal preference with more designers now choosing to mix different light colours throughout the home. Your choice of the colour of your light will depend on how you want the lit area to be viewed. Warm light is usually used in the living room, hallways, and bedroom. Warm light is chosen for these areas because the warm reds and yellow lends people to feel cozy.

The kitchen, cupboard, bathroom, study, and home office is typically where you will find a cool light colour. These areas of the home usually have cool light emitting from the fixtures because these areas are where you need to see the most clear. Neutral light is usually not found in residential buildings but in commercial, retail, and especially art studios.

Newer LED bulbs take all the confusion out of the choice by allowing the purchaser to change the colour of the lightbulb from warm to cool to neutral. If you haven’t already, go ahead and view our light bulb store, where we stock a wide variety of different light bulbs for many of your light fixtures.

International Chandeliers has a speciality in cleaning, restoration, and installing the finest chandeliers in London and the surrounding Home Counties, but will work with you on other related chandelier questions as well. We can answer all of your light colour questions you have for your current, or future, project. If you would like a professional opinion of what colour light you should choose, contact us via email, call, or our contact us page at your earliest convenience and we will gladly assist you.