Full Spectrum Light Bulb vs. Daylight Lighting

What Is a Full Spectrum Light Bulb? 


Full-spectrum light copies the light spectrum of natural daylight. However, there is no full-spectrum light bulb, and it is said to be more of a term used to attract customers' attention. This is because no light bulb can completely imitate daylight. To achieve this,


  • it must imitate all the wavelengths of a rainbow
  • have a color rendering Index of 100CRI 
  • a color temperature of 5500k - 6500k

    The Color Rendering Index measures how well light sources show objects naturally compared to another source, the sun.

    The color temperature, which is measured in kelvin, has to do with the visual appearance of light sources. It measures how warm (yellow) or cool (blue) the light is. Bulbs with a color temperature between 2000k to 3000k fall under the warm temperature category, while from 3000k above are considered cool. 

    Bulbs that are referred to as full spectrum light have a 95 - 99% Color Rendering Index and 5000k - 5500k  color temperature. So they fall a bit short of the sun's spectrum. Though, they are the closest light source to daylight.

What is Light Bulb Spectrum?


Spectrum is seen as light stretched out into a rainbow of colors. Light is measured in nanometers, and every nanometer represents a wavelength of light. The various wavelengths of light appear in different colors causing colors to be interpreted.


The light bulb spectrum refers to the range of visible light produced by the light bulb. The visible spectrum ranges from shorter wavelengths (red) to longer wavelengths (blue). These are the two extreme ends of the spectrum.


The incandescent light bulb spectrum range is referred to as a continuous spectrum. Just like the sun, all colors are represented. However, for the fluorescent bulb and LED bulb, their light spectrum is known as the emission spectrum because the wavelengths are on a punctuated line. As a result, not all colors are caught with this light source. Every light source has its spectrum because they all have different characteristics.


Types of Full Spectrum Light Bulbs 


There is no clear definition of full-spectrum light bulbs, and this has allowed some inclusions, like the application of the term in defining plant grow lamps, color matching lamps, and aquarium lamps. Some people also say that a bulb must radiate ultraviolet rays to be classified as a full-spectrum light. However, there are two primary full spectrum light bulb types - incandescent lights and fluorescent lights. 


  1. Incandescent Full Spectrum Light: The full spectrum incandescent bulb gives a close to daylight spectrum. When it is turned off, the bulb has a purple and lavender color. It uses a neodymium glass container to filter most warm colors that make it look yellow. This distinguishes it from the regular incandescent bulb with a warm color temperature.
  1. Fluorescent Full-Spectrum Bulbs: The fluorescent full spectrum bulb gives off a whiter light than the regular fluorescent bulb. It uses a mixture of phosphors to accomplish a broader spectrum of color. The fluorescent bulb is white when turned off.


Benefits of Using Full-Spectrum Light Bulbs


Generally, these bulbs are used where there is a need to use lighting that is close to the natural. Some of the expected benefits of full-spectrum lights are:


  1. Improved Color Rendition: These bulbs imitate daylight, providing a similar color rendition to daylight. They can identify as many colors as the sun. This benefit of using the full spectrum bulb is invaluable when color identification is of utmost importance, like for artists and art galleries.


  1. Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder: Seasonal Affective Disorder or winter blue is a psychological issue that affects some people during dark winter days. It causes a lack of motivation, slow response, boredom, and even depression.


Using these bulbs serves as a replacement for the daylight. Some psychologists advise SAD patients to spend a considerable amount of time under the full spectrum of light. Thus, full-spectrum light might be a good choice for people affected by the winter.


  1. Health and Biological Benefits: Sunlight is as useful to plants as it is to man. It provides many natural benefits. It can promote alertness, enhance sleepiness, improve mood, etc. The use of full-spectrum bulbs which imitates daylight can provide health and biological benefits. However, full-spectrum lights that do not have blue light blocking technology are not good for health because they do not block out ultraviolet rays and infrared light.


  1. Brings Daylight Home: Full-spectrum bulbs are priceless to people who spend time indoors as they give you a feel of daylight by copying the natural feel of sunlight.


Daylight Light Bulb vs. Full Spectrum Light Bulb 


The daylight bulb and full spectrum bulb are sometimes confused for one another. The difference between both lights is in their characteristics and functions.


A daylight bulb is similar to natural daylight in its color temperature. It provides between 6000k - 6500k color temperature and a Color Rendition Index of about 80%.


On the other hand, the full-spectrum bulb produces the full range of the color spectrum. It captures both visible and invisible color wavelengths of light. This means it can identify distinct colors that daylight bulbs and other light sources cannot. The full-spectrum bulb gives the closest benefits to natural daylight. Its color temperature is between 5000k to 6500k, and the Color Rendition Index is above 95% giving off a perfect color interpretation.


So, while daylight bulbs give a feel of daylight, full-spectrum bulbs imitate daylight in its functions like color interpretation and health benefits; thus, it is the closest light source you can have to daylight.  However, if you are going for either one for their aesthetic benefits, you can go for the daylight bulb since it's cheaper. 




Full-spectrum light bulbs are light sources that imitate the light spectrum of daylight. Although they do not fully measure up, they are the closest to daylight's spectrum. These light bulbs try to achieve a color rendering close to the sun and provide a color temperature similar to daylight.


TrueWave™ technology is one product that provides excellent natural lighting. Its products have a balanced spectrum, providing a brilliant color rendering of objects without sacrificing the light output. This makes TrueWave one of the best options when purchasing full-spectrum lights. 


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