Soft White vs. Daylight Bulbs: What’s the Difference?


Shopping for light bulbs seems like a fairly easy task to take part in, but anyone who has tried to find the perfect lighting for any space, be it work or residential, knows how onerous it may become. This is because there are so many options when it comes to bulbs. The reason why shopping for bulbs may all of a sudden turn into an onerous task is because of the fact you have to find what is perfect for a certain space.

Too much light in a room will have it looking and feeling like a science lab, and not enough light will have it looking all gloomy and small. Lighting in many ways does affect the ambiance and the mood of the entire space, and that is why it is not only necessary but also essential to make sure that you get lighting that fits the space you want to install them in.

There is a couple of different lighting alternative. Most people and spaces today have energy-efficient LED, Light-emitting diode, bulbs. The said bulbs are categorized into three different groups. Bright White, Daylight, and Soft White. In the olden times, the standard used for grouping bulbs was their wattage. Of course, as the years went by, this became a misnomer, since the wattage only expressed the power consumption of the bulb, and did not necessarily take into account the brightness of the said bulb.

The modern-day bulbs use Kelvins and Lumens as the unit of measurement, with both being able to accidentally describe the light intensity. An example of this is a 100-watt incandescent bulb, which can produce 1200 lumens of light. However, a 12 watt LED bulb can emit the same amount of light.

Understanding the labeling

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what constitutes Soft White and Daylight lights in general, it is important to first understand what the labels on the light said.


Lumens, essentially, are a measure of the visible light that is emitted by a bulb, which means the bulb’s brightness, according to CNET. The higher the lumens rating, the brighter the bulb will be, irrespective of whether the bulb is conventional, like incandescent lights, or LEDs.


This refers to the amount of energy that the bulb will consume to produce light. There are two main choices when it comes to lighting, LEDs, and incandescent. Incandescent lights produce light by the heating of filament, which in turn produce lit. Since the filament is heated, the bulbs will be hot when touched. LED lights, which are short for light-emitting diodes, function by letting a current of electricity flow through microchips, which then activates very small light sources. They are noticeably cooler than their incandescent counterparts since they have a built-in heat management system. LEDs are also more energy-efficient and are longer-lasting.

Color temperature

Temperature is hot or cold, but when it comes to lighting and illumination, it has to go with the glow emitted by the light. Color temperature also refers to the appearance of the light, and where it will fall on the kelvin scale concerning coolness and warmth, according to Hunker. If you check the labeling on the bulb, you will see words such as soft, cool, daylight, warm, and such. These adjectives are used to simply explain where the said bulb is on the Kelvin scale, and what type of glow the bulb will emit.


As mentioned earlier, there are three main categories when it comes to measuring the intensity of light; Daylight, Soft White, and Bright White. These three categories are nothing but layman’s representatives of light intensity in kelvins. The first two, Daylight and Soft White are the main types of lights used in both residential and commercial spaces.

So what is the difference between the two, and which is the better option? This article aims to help you find the answers. Kelvins is a measure of color temperature. The color temperature should be taken into account when selecting lighting because it will alter how the surfaces on which the light will bounce will look, and thus how it will be perceived when illuminated.

The Kelvin scale goes from 1000k to 10,000k. With the lower number being more of yellow color and thus imparting a yellowish hue on the surfaces on which the light will land. The opposite end of the spectrum is the thus more bluish tones and hues. The higher the value of Kelvin rating, the brighter the said light is. Soft White is light that falls between 2700K and 3000K, while Daylight is light that falls between 5000K and 6500K, according to Lighting Access.

Ergo, Daylight is more of bright White-blue light. Daylight bulbs reflect the colors of the surfaces naturally, and thus creating a near-natural lighting effect. On the other hand, Soft White is more of a yellowish hue and is more of a lower color temperature, which impacts a warmer ambiance on the surface and space in which it is placed in.

Daylight Lights

As the name may suggest, these are bright white-blue lights that can produce a cool and calming effect in the space they are placed in because they offer a wider light spectrum. Their color temperature tends to range from between 5000 and 6500 Kelvins, which is bright. As a result, such lights are preferred for spaces like bathrooms and kitchens, and even basements.

These lights can create a great color contrast akin to that of natural light, and for this reason, they are useful in commercial spaces, offices, and such places. Since they are bright, they will not cause any strain on your eyes. This means that if you are reading, or working on your computer, you will be able to do so for a long time and suffer from no eye strain whatsoever. Daylights can produce an instantaneous bright glow to the interior space, just like the sun.

Soft White lights

Soft White lights produce a yellowish hue on the surface on which it falls. Their position on the Kelvin scale is between 2700 and 3000 Kelvins, according to Prudent Reviews, which means that they have lower color and temperature. Soft White bulbs sometimes called warm white, can produce a warm white light, giving the space a warm and cozy feeling, something that is needed in rooms such as the bedroom and the living room. Unlike the Daylight LED lights, Soft White lights are rich in red and yellow, and thus offer more warmth and comforts. They are the yellowest of all the LED lights in the market. Their warmth and soothing feeling are what induce the relaxed ambiance into the room.

The difference between the two

So, now that you now know what constitutes the two types of light, it is important to understand the difference between them, so that you will be able to judge for yourself which one is best placed for the room or space that you want to illuminate.

Color intensity

Color intensity, essentially, refers to the brightness of the color, and some have used it to also refer to the saturation of the lighting or the color emitted from the light. Simply put, color intensity is how bright the color looks, according to Difference Between. Daylight lights can produce high color temperatures, which range, as mentioned earlier, from 5000 to 6500 kelvins.

On the other hand, Soft White lights can produce a yellow hue and color and have a lower color temperature, ranging from 2700 to 3000 kelvins. Daylight lights can create a near-natural color effect because of the color contrast that they invoke on the surfaces of the space. Soft White lights, since they have a low color intensity, make the space warmer and more relaxed.

The Hue

Daylight lights can be able to illuminate the surfaces of the interior space the same way that the sun’s natural light can. they can emit light on the full spectrum of the natural light and give the space a bluish-white hue, color, and ambiance. Since they are bright lights, they cause less eye strain. Soft White lights, on the other hand, can produce a soft warm yellowish ambiance and hue, which creates a smooth and relaxed feeling in the room. Directly as a result of their low color intensity, they make for more relaxed illumination.

The function of the room

You should think about the activities that will take part in the said room or space. You may choose to have one color temperature for the entire room, but you also have the choice of having different colors for different parts of the room. An example is installing Daylight bulbs around the vicinity of the bathroom, but also installing a Soft White bulb in the shower or as the main bulb.

The mood of the room

The lighting will change the mood of the space immediately, so what do want the space to feel like? The mood will be one of the contributing factors to the type of lighting you will install. Warm and cozy requires a bit of soft light, while for more energy and brightness you will have to go with daylight.

Size of the room

You need to have enough light in the room so as not to make it gloomy and dark. You determine the amount of light needed by using square footage and foot-candle measurements. The latter is the amount of light that is required to saturate a one-foot square radius with one lumen of light. You can get an electrician to help you determine this.

The paint color of the room

If you want to enhance the warm tomes present in the room already, such as neutral and earth tones, then soft hit lighting is the way to go. If you have cooler paints, such as blues and greens, then Daylighting will add a near-natural pop to the space.

The type and spacing of the light fittings

The design of the light fittings, where exactly the light will go, the overhead lights, will be essential to where you will install the lights. Each fixture will lend itself to a certain type of light.

The type of light

Will you have incandescent LED lights in the space? Incandescent lights are the more traditional choice for warmth, that is soft light, but LEDs are perfect when it comes to daylight ambiance. LED lights are more energy-efficient and will last longer.

Room by room guide


For the bedroom, you want a bit of warmth, so soft light is the perfect choice for this. It will give you a warm cozy glow in the space. If you have a working space in the bedroom, then the nearby lamp can have a Daylight light, appropriate for your reading and writing.

Living room

Since the living room is the gathering space in the house or apartment, then you will need a bit of Soft White light to give it that cozy feeling.

Home office

Daylight lights are the best for reading and writing. Studies have shown that Daylight bulbs improve the productivity and mood of the whole space, since it can mimic natural light, and offers similar results.

The Porch

Here, you will need enough light to act as security and also use when entering codes and keys in the dark. Thus, Daylight bulbs are the best choice. You should note that since bugs are particularly attracted to bright lights, you should choose a bug-repellant bulb to reduce and prevent the number of insects gathering near your front door.


If your basement is a storage facility, then you should choose a Daylight bulb, which will help you see more clearly. If your basement is also an entertainment hub, then you will have to get a bit of both; some Soft White bulbs for the TV room, and Daylight bulbs for the space where you are playing games.


Soft White bulbs are the best lighting to install in entryways and hallways since it is mainly a pass-through space. It also provides an ambient glow that promotes a relaxed feeling.

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