Warm or cool white light – that’s the question. Choosing the right light bulb colour is a decision that many people have to make. In fact, many couples have probably had very long debates on this subject. You’ve probably seen the terms ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ white bantered about, but what does either even mean? Does it refer to the heat the bulb gives off, or something else? We’re here to explain and try to make the decision, well, Simple!

When LEDs (light-emitting diodes) first arrived on the market, most of them gave off a bluish hue. Consequently, they weren’t always appropriate for all applications, and many people wouldn’t buy them for their homes. They were also new, unproven technology, and more expensive than incandescent or fluorescent lighting. That’s all changed.

Advanced LED technology now saves you money, and you can choose the tint of light the bulb produces. The terms white cool and warm don’t refer to the heat bulbs give off, but the colour of light they emit. The colour “temperature” describes how many tints of white are available in those bulbs.

Led Bulbs

The colour temperature is measured in kelvins. The scale starts at red, then moves towards yellow tones and ends at blue. You can choose bulbs that emit soft, warm tones or choose crisp, cool light. Consequently, you can select appropriate bulbs for a particular task in a room and accent lighting based on their shade.

Warm White

Low colour temperature offers orange or yellow tones. The light is soft and relaxing. For instance, a candle flame has a colour temperature of 1,850K. Warm bulbs are usually around 3,000K. However, LED bulbs produce light easily, so you require a lower wattage, and consume less electricity. You can replace a 60W incandescent bulb with a 6W LED and still get a warm light in a room.

Cool White

High colour temperatures have blue or cool tones, and they produce bright light, offering a modern look. Cool white light bulbs are usually around 5,000K. They work well in bold themes, in minimally decorated spaces, and a predominantly white room.

So, Cool White or Warm one – How to Choose?

It isn’t an either/or decision. You can use both in the same room, wire them on different switches, and then use them as you see fit. For instance, you could install warm bulbs for overhead lighting. You could also have cool variants for task lighting over work areas in a room.

Most homeowners choose a warm fixture between 2,700K and 3,000K in the living room, bedrooms, and hallways. Use cool temperature bulbs selectively. Too many of them may be too harsh at home. The kitchen, bathroom, and office are suitable areas for such colour temperature because they offer bright light.

Our light bulbs come in a variety of shapes sizes and specifications to suit your design needs. You can view a broad selection of fixtures here, suitable for any area of your home and any remodelling project.

Examples of Cool White and Warm White

Below we see cool white lighting used at the worktop of a kitchen. This provides a very modern look and lights the surface below more effectively than its warm counterpart would do.

Generally, when deciding on warm white or cool colour temperature for your kitchen, you should choose the cool one for task lighting (eg. for work surfaces) but the warm one if it’s just for ambience.

Warm White


Another example of cool lighting being used in a modern kitchen below.


Below you can see a stunning way to use warm strip lighting on your base cabinets in a kitchen, with the relaxing variant of white light shining directly down onto a tiled floor. This creates a beautiful and calm ambience.

warm strip light

Finally, we thought it would be great to install both LED colours within a purpose-built bulkhead in a bedroom. The two images below really allow you to see why the light bulb colours will always be a topic of conversation.

Warm LED in a Bedroom

Warm LED

Cool LED in a Bedroom

Cool Led

Simple Lighting online shop stocks a wonderful array of lighting, everything from LED light bulbs, decorative lighting such as pendants, and LED strips through commercial and industrial style lighting. If you need any help or advice on warm vs cool lights or any other lighting queries, please send us an email or call us. You can visit our website by clicking here.

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Interior designer with a special interest in lighting and how it shapes our perception of a space. Ever since I was a little girl, I loved to rearrange and reimagine virtually every room I’ve gone into, often to the great despair of my family members. I continued to pursue this inclination into adulthood, which has led me to obtain a Master’s Degree in Interior Design from the University of Brighton. Currently, I work as a freelance design consultant, helping new homeowners create a warm and welcoming atmosphere with a special emphasis on the right use of lighting. As a writer for the Simple Lighting blog, I hope to use my field experience to help countless people brighten their homes and utilize their living space in the best way possible.


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