Warm White vs Soft White: Which Is Right Light Temperature for You?

You’ve probably heard the terms warm white and soft white thrown around when it comes to the type of light bulb you should be using, but what exactly do they mean?

Warm white is one color on the spectrum of all possible light, while soft white has specific temperature requirements to meet those qualifications.

In this article, we’ll compare warm and soft white bulbs from every angle so you can make an informed choice about what you put in your home, office or business.

warm white vs soft white light bulbs

Is Soft White the Same as Warm White?

Soft white and warm white both are different in terms of their brightness and temperature in kelvin.

Warm light has a color temperature of 3000 to 4000 kelvin giving you brighter light without making it harsh for your eyes.

Soft white has a color temperature of 2700 to 3000 kelvin giving a warm light.

In short, warm white is generally easy on your eyes, but sometimes soft white works better in a specific situation.

Overview of Warm White

Warm white is a type of cool, yellowish-white light that offers an inviting, cozy feel.

Warm white resembles daylight without being quite as harsh on your eyes.

It’s also trendy in residential lighting and commercial retail spaces, where warm white can create an inviting ambiance that you want people to linger in.

With warm white, you can also get away with dimmer lights than you could with brighter (cooler) whites – so warm white saves money on energy costs too!

Is It Suitable for You?

Warm white is typically used in festive and decorative lighting because of its yellow-to-red tint.

This is an easy way to add a touch of warmth to your living room.

Using warm white LEDs in these spaces can help create a relaxing atmosphere, which will be especially lovely during those dreary winter months when we need all the help we can get to stay optimistic about life.

If you’re looking for small accent lights that work well in every room, warm white LEDs are also great.

Where to Use…

Warm white is best for the area you want to rest in, having a soft light that won’t disturb you much.

It works best for the lounges, bedrooms, and even gardens.

It gives a soothing ambiance to your area, making it pleasing to work and sit there.

Having warm light in your garden can give it an enticing look during the nighttime. You can easily enjoy and relax after a tiring day with beautiful plants and softer light around you.

There’s no recommended wattage limit when using these bulbs; however, there are suggested brightness levels depending on what room you’re placing them in.

For example, dining rooms require 100 per square foot while bathrooms require a mere 15 lumens per square foot.

Overview of Soft White

Basically, soft white is one of three general categories used to describe light bulbs that use tungsten filaments and other tungsten-based materials for their bases and envelopes.

Soft white is an extensive category, so much so that if you’re looking at bulbs in a store, you may not even see it listed as an option.

Instead, what you may see are options like warm white or daylight.

More on those in a minute.

While there are variations on what manufacturers have deemed as soft white, there isn’t a single agreed-upon definition of what soft white actually means – because who defines such things?

A soft white light bulb has a warm glow and is suitable for lighting an area that isn’t well-lit, as they tend to be dimmer than other types of lightbulbs.

These are ideal in bathrooms where you may want some extra light but don’t need it bright and harsh.

Cool-white bulbs are what we’re all used to; they produce a stark fluorescent light that’s totally fine but not particularly welcoming or aesthetically pleasing.

Is It Suitable for You?

Soft white is a warm, yellowish light that creates a comfortable environment and encourages conversation and sociability.

Perfect for dining rooms or bedrooms, soft white bulbs are subtle but welcoming.

Suppose you want to create an intimate ambiance in your home but don’t necessarily want people to pay attention to decorative elements like table settings or artwork.

In that case, soft white light can be an excellent choice for getting what you want.

It isn’t as dull as regular overhead lighting, and it certainly won’t hurt anyone; however, it won’t necessarily catch anyone’s eye either.

To put it simply, warm white is perfect if you like a nice balance between brightness and cheerfulness that feels very similar to sunlight.

Where to Use…

In general, soft white bulbs are perfect for living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens.

These rooms should be lit by more neutral lighting, and soft white bulbs provide a milder light that is pleasant and easy on the eyes.

This makes them a good choice for your primary lighting source in these areas. Of course, soft white lights can also be used elsewhere too.


Both are frequently used colors in interior design, but they can bring very different vibes to a room.

However, the Kelvin rating is one big difference between warm white and soft white light bulbs.

Warm white light has a higher Kelvin rating than soft white light bulbs.

And as you become familiar, that little detail makes all of the difference for you.