Which Lighting Is Better? Soft White vs. Daylight Light Bulbs

Kristin Salaky
Written by Kristin Salaky
Updated June 7, 2022
A couple sits on a couch in a warmly lit living room
Photo: gorodenkoff / Getty Images


  • Soft white light bulbs fall between 2,700K and 3,000K on the Kelvin scale

  • Daylight light bulbs fall between 5,000K and 6,000K on the Kelvin scale 

  • Soft white bulbs are best suited for rooms meant for relaxation

  • Daylight light bulbs should be placed in rooms where productivity is needed

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Despite often being overlooked until they need replacing, light bulbs play a pivotal role in setting the mood and overall functionality of a room. Subsequently, different types of light bulbs and the hues they emit can affect productivity—because of this, certain light bulbs are better suited for rooms in your home than others. 

In a time where there are endless versions of a single product to choose from in stores and online, determining which light bulb will have the best impact in the various rooms of your house can be overwhelming. To help you get started, read through this breakdown of the differences between soft white and daylight light bulbs and the advantages and disadvantages of both so that every part of your house is lit to your liking.

The Kelvin Scale

In order to understand the difference between soft white light bulbs and daylight light bulbs, it’s helpful to first have an understanding of the Kelvin scale. The Kelvin scale is made up of units— known as Kelvins—which are used to describe a light bulb’s color temperature. The number of Kelvins a light bulb has is directly correlated to its warmth or coolness, and this number determines where on the Kelvin scale (between 1,000K and 10,000K) the bulb lands. 

Soft white light bulbs have a warm color temperature and fall within 2,700K and 3,000K on the Kelvin scale. Contrastly, daylight light bulbs have a cooler color temperature and fall between 5000K and 6000K on the Kelvin scale.

Pros and Cons of Soft White Light Bulbs

Soft white light bulbs are thought to be better suited for residential homes. They typically give off yellow or light orange tones and create an ambiance of coziness. Soft white light bulbs add an inviting element to the rooms they illuminate, and when paired with earth-tone wall paint they enhance the rich color and tie together a soothing space. 

Incandescent light bulbs are traditional soft white light bulbs that are still commonly used today. Despite being relatively inexpensive, they’re unfortunately not energy-efficient. Incandescent bulbs last up to a year before they need replacing, and also can get very hot to the touch. 

Pros and Cons of Daylight Light Bulbs

Daylight light bulbs display a brighter, cool white color that resembles natural sunlight. The light they give off is thought to be crisp, invigorating, and conducive to working under, which is why these bulbs are frequently used in commercial buildings. 

Certain varieties of LED light bulbs have daylight color temperatures, which is great if you want to dedicate large rooms to this type of lighting, since LED light bulbs are energy efficient and long lasting. They do, however, have a color temperature cool enough to give the appearance of a blue-like hue—which isn’t always seen as a positive aspect among homeowners who prioritize relaxation. 

An interesting fact about daylight light bulbs is that they are often used as light therapy light bulbs and in light therapy lamps to help treat seasonal affective disorder.

Where to Use and Why to Choose Soft White Light Bulbs

A corner shot of a bedroom lit with a nightside table lamp
Photo: tru / Getty Images

Because soft white light bulbs evoke feelings of relaxation and comfort, you’ll get the most out of them when they’re incorporated into the parts of your home that also make you feel warm and cozy. Here are some of the rooms that make the most sense to light with soft white bulbs.


There’s something about a quaint, comfy kitchen that makes baking and cooking feel more like a passion than a chore. That said, warm lighting heightens the feeling of coziness and helps cultivate a romantic atmosphere perfect for date nights at home. 

No matter the size of the room, the light colors offered from a soft white light bulb combined with the mouth-watering aroma of a home-cooked meal will turn your kitchen into the most occupied space in your house. 


A bathroom is no place to rush in, and the right lighting can make someone feel safe to take their time. Soft white light bulbs help create an environment that’s soothing and serene, which is precisely the type of statement a bathroom should make to homeowners and house guests alike. 


Soft white light bulbs are well-suited for lamps, and ‌they make a great complement to bedroom nightside tables. Your bedroom should be a stress-free reprieve from the constant work and life responsibilities outside its walls, and having a light bulb color that encourages you to wind down at night will help you settle in for a restful sleep. 

Living Room/Den 

Similar to the reasons you’d want soft white light bulbs in your bedroom, other rooms in your house such as living rooms, family rooms, and dens also benefit from the peaceful vibes that a soft glow provides. There’s a reason lights are turned down when watching a movie—a dimmable soft white light bulb can help set the tone of a leisurely movie night. 

Where to Use and Why to Choose Daylight Light Bulbs

A closeup shot of a workstation in a garage
Photo: nacroba / Adobe Stock

One of the main takeaways of daylight light bulbs is that the light they give off is thought to be energizing, bright white, and clean. For this reason, these bulbs pair well with rooms meant for productivity. Below are examples of rooms that will benefit from the vivid lighting given off by these bulbs.  


Daylight light bulbs are an ideal lighting choice for home offices, because of the stimulating bright light they give off. A home office can be a distracting environment, and having the lighting to keep you focused and on track can make all the difference when you’re under a deadline.  


Although soft white light bulbs can also be incorporated into kitchens to get a homey, welcoming feel, daylight light bulbs are also favored for kitchens because of the sense of sanitation they exude. Choosing daylight light bulbs for your kitchen is certainly a matter of preference. Prior to purchasing them, it may be helpful to reflect on whether you enjoy low-key lighting while cooking and eating, or if you prefer an air of energy around you when preparing meals. 


If your garage doubles as a workshop and plenty of time is spent in there, daylight light bulbs are an excellent light choice for that area. When working on vehicles or tinkering with small objects like nails and screws, you’ll need strong lighting to help ensure you have full visibility for your project. 


Again, when it comes to soft white vs. daylight bulbs, adding one type or the other to your bathroom depends on your preference—but an important factor worth considering is whether there are windows within that space. If your bathrooms have windows that get a high volume of sunlight, the color of daylight light bulbs will work in conjunction with that natural light and enhance it. 

Since bathrooms are generally the primary setting for self-care routines, styling hair, and applying makeup, having a radiating light will make the process easier by allowing for the illumination you need to get the job done thoroughly. 

Other Lighting Considerations

When choosing the right light bulbs for your home, it’s important to pay attention to other factors at play besides color temperatures. 


If you’ve ever purchased a light bulb and looked at the text printed on its box, you’ve likely seen the term “watts.” Watts are a unit of measurement used to determine the amount of energy a light bulb uses. Different types of light bulbs, such as LED, incandescent, halogen, or CFL, can have varying wattage ranging from low to high. The higher the wattage level is, the more power is needed for the bulb to emit light. The brightness of a light bulb, on the other hand, is determined by how many lumens it produces.  


Lumens are the measurement of how bright a light bulb is, based on how much light it gives off. The number of lumens varies by bulb type and wattage, but ultimately the higher the lumen is, the brighter the bulb will be. If you’re not sure what color temperature, wattage, or lumen you need in a light bulb, contact a local hardware store to help you get the right fit for the room you want to light up. 

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.