Warm vs. Cool White

Choosing a white light used to be a simple task– there was only one choice: incandescent clear. With the introduction of LED lights, there was an attempt to make a pure white color, but, unfortunately it turned out to be very blue in color rather than white. Since then, manufacturing techniques have improved, more choices have become available, and it has become a bit more difficult to choose when you’re just looking for “white”. Now customers can choose between variations of warm white and cool white. All of the improved shades of white became possible because of advancements in technology that allow the manufacturer to apply different phosphor combinations and thicknesses of layers to create different white color temperatures.

Color temperature, expressed through Kelvin rating (K) is an important thing to understand when you begin shopping for LED lights and strings. Kelvin, the unit of absolute temperature, is used in lighting to measure the color temperature of a particular light bulb, with the highest Kelvin rating giving off the whitest light. Household fixtures are commonly found in color temperatures on the Kelvin scale of 2700K (warm incandescent), 3000K (warm white halogen) and 3500K (household fluorescent). Color temperatures higher than 3500K are typically used for commercial and hospital applications, as the light is bright and has a bluish daylight cast that can be harsh for home interiors; but task lighting may be useful at 4000K and above. 

With a general knowledge of color temperature and Kelvin rating, finding the perfect “white” for your home or living space will be easier than ever. But, how do you know if you want cool white LED strings or warm white LED bulbs?

Cool White LED

Sometimes known as Pure White, these lights produce a much cooler and vibrant white color. Previous versions of the cool white LED were almost blue looking, but that is no longer the case. Newer versions of the cool white LED are more of an icy white, think of a fresh sheet of white printer paper. Cool white is really a fantastic shade and is used effectively for decorations that involve crisp white tones. 

It also looks amazing when paired with the other bold colored strands as it enhances the impact of the colored sets. Cool white LED bulbs are the preferred white for anyone doing animated displays, mega trees, roofing displays during the holidays, or if you are simply looking for a more modern lighting fixture in or around your home.

Warm White LED

These types of lights are similar to the light given off by an incandescent bulb. The warm white LED has improved greatly over the past few years. Contrary to many people’s belief, gone are the days of the harsh bluish white LEDs. In fact, there are now quality warm white sets of LED strings and bulbs available that closely mimic the traditional soft warm, color of old incandescent lights. Warm white lights are a great selection for classic tree lighting and other traditional displays, where a slightly softer, more subdued light is desired. 

Warm white colors are ideal for home decorating and ambient lighting situations where you are able to light the area you are intending with warm colors that aren’t too bright or harsh in spaces like your living room, dining room, or other social spaces in and around your home.

Which one should you use? It certainly depends on the situation, as both warm and cool LED strings and bulbs have pros and cons depending on where and how you would like to use them, but it truly is left up to personal preference. If you want more white, bright LED lighting to illuminate a work area, decorate for the holiday season, or just give a more modern feeling to your home or living area then obviously cool white LED bulbs or strings are going to be your best bet. However, if you are looking for more traditional lighting for your social areas, living room, or even your indoor holiday decorations you would be looking for more warm white LEDs. Also, don’t be afraid to mix and match your bulbs and strings- it’s absolutely ok to have warm white bulbs in your dining room with a string of cool white C9 bulbs in your kitchen so you can see what you’re actually cooking.

Hopefully with a more general knowledge of Kelvin ratings, situational lighting options, and the difference between warm white and cool white LED bulbs and strings your search for that perfect “white” will be quick, easy, and exactly what you are looking for. For more tips and tricks, lighting information, and LED products please visit our website.

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