One of the hottest Christmas debates over the past decade has been warm white or cool white in regards to your Christmas decor and program. Most of us can tell the difference when the two are side-by-side but do we really understand why they are so different and how best to utilize them?
LED color temperature is measured using the Kelvin scale and although different manufacturers and retailers can differ in the exact numbers, most Warm White is around 2700K to 3500K and Cool White is around 3500K-4100K. For comparison, natural daylight is around 5000K-6500K so basically the higher degrees in Kelvin, the whiter color temperature you get.
Warm White is most similar to the traditional incandescent bulbs people have been nostalgic for and pairs very well with a classic Christmas color scheme like red, green and gold since it is soft, relaxing and inviting.
Cool White, on the other hand, is a very bright, pure white light that can often read with hints of blue. It is more luminous than warm white and when LEDs first hit the commercial market they were all placed into the Cool White category because it was simply too costly to create a warm white LED. This has delayed many customers from switching from incandescent to LED because they fear they won’t get the soft glow they love from the Warm White but the truth is there have been many developments over the years and now the only way to tell if a Warm White bulb is LED or incandescent if by touching it. If it’s warm to the touch it’s most likely an incandescent since LED bulbs are energy-efficient.
So when should you use Warm White and when should you use Cool White? Warm White is best suited for classic, natural and rustic looks. It casts a soft glow that’s great for interiors and programs using a lot of gold while Cool White is generally reserved for pairing with white, silver and platinum – often creating a winter wonderland look! Cool White also has a more modern look so contemporary designs and decor will often utilize these color or you can find them in areas looking for maximum impact and pop.
At Dekra-Lite, we’ve seen a pretty even divide in sales for the two whites over the years and have even had multiple partners request a specific Kelvin rating so they get the exact white needed for their program or project. When our designers step on a property many say it instantly calls for either warm or cool lighting and often creating programs will start with the light color. Warm white lighting calls for tones of gold and red while cool white lights are often paired with silvers, whites, and blues.
When all is said and done, the big debate over Warm or Cool White really comes down to personal taste. Some designers will go so far as to say the two should not be mixed in the same program or display and this has been the school of thought for many years but Dekra-Lite actually loves mixing the two! It enables decor of all themes to match no matter what the light temperature and the two can be used together in the same decor element to create contrast and monochromatic look. No matter the property or the preference one thing we can all agree on is that you can’t go wrong with any type of lights – they all create ambiance and holiday magic!