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Seeing Things In a Different Light

Lighting - by David Neubert - updated on 7/26/2017

Ever since Edison introduced us to the very first electric light bulb in 1879, we have seen everything in the same Soft White color temperature, measured at 2700K (Degrees Kelvin). The light created by these bulbs has given off a slightly yellowish glow for over 130 years, making the colors in our homes feel warm and cozy the entire time.

While this might be nice in bedrooms and living rooms, what about other rooms? In spaces like bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and garages, it is often better to have truer white lights with an overall brighter feel that is better suited to activities like preparing food, applying makeup and performing auto repairs.

With the advanced technology of CFLs and LEDs, light bulbs now come in a vast range of color temperatures, providing many options to choose from when lighting the rooms in your home.

The Range of Color Temperature

The three primary types of color temperature for light bulbs are: Soft White (2700K – 3000K), Bright White/Cool White (3500K – 4100K), and Daylight (5000K – 6500K).

The higher the Degrees Kelvin, the whiter the color temperature. Although the whiter lights will appear "brighter" than those of a lower Kelvin reading, the amount of Lumens (measurement for brightness) does not change, and true brightness is not affected.

Kitchen Color Comparison, Soft White, 2700K vs Daylight, 5000K

Although our eyes have adjusted to the Soft White color temperature of incandescent bulbs over the years, this doesn't mean that they are necessarily the best option for all lighting applications. For example, because of their warmer color temperature, these soft white lights often pull warmer colors from a room (reds, oranges, etc.), altering the contrasts throughout the space. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to light the different rooms in your home most effectively:


Best for bedrooms and living rooms; providing a traditional warm, cozy feel to them.


Best in kitchens, bathrooms or garages; giving rooms a whiter, more energetic feel.


Best in bathrooms, kitchens and basements; good for reading, intricate projects, or applying makeup – provides the greatest contrast among colors.

Soft White, 2700K, is a soft yellowish light; Cool White, 4100K, bit whiter than soft white; Daylight, 5000-6500K, bluish, whitish light, resembles noon on a cloudless day

CRI or Color Rendering Index

The CRI is the measure of the ability of a light source to reproduce colors of various objects compared to an ideal light source such as incandescent (only because it's what our eyes are used to) or natural light. The scale is from 0-100, and those lights with a CRI closer to 100 have an ability to show truer colors across a wide spectrum. It's important to consider for some applications, but definitely not for all. For example, it's very important in a retail store to have lights with a high CRI, so that colors appear as they truly are. Whereas in a factory (CRIs often in the 70s or 80s), or with street lamps (CRIs in the 30s or 40s), color accuracy isn't nearly as important as the overall amount of light produced or lamp cost.

Two forklifts in a warehouse

Ultimately, the decision is up to you; these are just some tips. The great thing is that there now exists a range of options to choose from, so you can create the look and feel you desire for each and every room in your house. Have fun with it, and stop by a Batteries Plus Bulbs today to learn more about it. Our trained associates will be enthusiastic to guide you through our extensive selection of energy-efficient CFL and LED bulbs!