the best full spectrum lights featured image

Looking for light bulbs that mimic natural sunlight? We’ve reviewed as many as we can and the ones in this guide are among the healthiest for human beings!

Many lights on the market claim to be full-spectrum or flicker-free, like the sun…

But are they really? And what do these terms even mean anyways?

In this guide, we’re going to cut through the meaningless marketing lingo by testing and reviewing the best lights on the market.

What is Full-Spectrum Lighting?

Full-spectrum light bulbs contain a natural visible spectrum similar to the sun.

These lights also have very good color rendering, meaning they reflect light very similar to a natural light source like the sun.

Spectral Power Distribution Graphs

In order to check how uniform a light source is, we have to shine it under a spectrometer. This tool gives us the ability to create an SPD or spectral power distribution graph.

These are the classic graphs you’ve seen of the rainbow of light given off by a light source.

Let’s compare three daylight colored 5000K LEDs:

generic low cri led spectral power distribution graph
Low CRI LED
yuji crimax 5000k a19 spectral power distribution graph
High CRI LED
ge sun filled 5000k br30 spectral power distribution graph
Full spectrum LED

As you can see, even though all of these lights emit a very similar “color”, the full spectrum LED emits a relatively even amount of light at all wavelengths, with no large unnatural peaks and valleys.

True full-spectrum LEDs also have very good color rendering, oftentimes better than “high CRI” lights that are made specifically for this purpose.

Color Rendering Index

The CRI or color rendering index is used to determine how well a light source reflects certain colors compared to a natural light source, like the sun.

Basically, the fuller the colors in a light source are, the higher the CRI score will be.

Color rendering of an apple from lights of CRI 97, 90, and 80
A CRI of 90 plus is ideal!

While CRI isn’t perfect, nor is it the only system of its kind, it functions just fine for our purposes in this article.

We do take specific note of one of the 15 colors in the CRI standard, R9 or deep red. The reason we take this one into account is that it’s usually what modern LEDs perform worst at, and a low R9 score means skin tones can look slightly off.

Light Flicker

Some LEDs and even some incandescents flicker imperceptibly due to the AC current powering them.

This “invisible flicker” can cause eye strain, irritability, and headaches in certain individuals.

  • Tip

Record the room you’re in using the slow-motion setting on your phone. If the lighting in the room is dominated by low-quality LEDs or fluorescents, you’ll be able to see the cyclical AC dimming in your slo-mo video.

An example of a poor flicker rate
An example of a good flicker rate

This invisible flicker may not impact you at all, but if it does, we have included metrics for each of the lights on our list.

The Best Full Spectrum Light Bulbs

Full spectrum LED lights that accurately mimic natural sunlight are becoming more and more commonplace.

Explore even more light sim our light bulb database!

light bulb database button

Here are the best full spectrum lights currently available on the market today:

1. NorbSmile – Best Overall

Norb is one of the only US manufacturers to offer multiple full-spectrum LED lights.

The flicker leaves something to be desired, but the color quality of their lights is top-notch.

Norb has two premium lights available, both a 5000K and a 4000K option:

norbsmile 11w a19 spectral power distribution graph
5000K
norbsmile soft 11w a19 spectral power distribution graph
4000K

NorbSMILE

norb smile product image
  • Lumens: 800
  • CCT: 5000K
  • Watts: 11w
  • Shape: A19
  • CRI: 97.3
  • R9: 88
  • Dimmable: Yes
norbsmile 11w a19 spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph
norbsmile equal luminous flux graph
Sunlight comparison graph
norbsmile 11w a19 flicker Risk graph
Flicker risk
norbsmile 11w a19 waveform Graph
Waveform

NorbSMILE Soft

norb smile soft product photo
  • Lumens: 800
  • CCT: 4000K
  • Watts: 11w
  • Shape: A19
  • CRI: 98
  • R9: 93
  • Dimmable: Yes
norbsmile soft 11w a19 spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph
norbsmile soft Equal Luminous Flux graph
Sunlight comparison graph
NorbSMILE Soft 11w A19 flicker Risk graph
Flicker risk
NorbSMILE Soft 11w A19 waveform Graph
Waveform

Norb also sells a cheaper less premium model called EverydaySun.

These still emit a very nice spectrum and are worth picking up if you’re looking for more bang for your buck.

EverydaySun is also available in the 5000K and 4000K options:

normsile everyday sun 5000k a19 spectral power distribution graph
5000K
normsile everyday sun soft 4000k a19 spectral power distribution graph
4000K

Norb EVERYDAY-SUN

norb everyday sun product photo
  • Lumens: 800
  • CCT: 5000K
  • Watts: 9w
  • Shape: A19
  • CRI: 89.9
  • R9: 94
  • Dimmable: Yes
normsile everyday sun 5000k a19 spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph
norb everydaysun equal luminous flux graph
Sunlight comparison graph
norb everyday sun 5000k a19 flicker Risk graph
Flicker risk
norb everyday sun 5000k a19 waveform Graph
Waveform

Norb EVERYDAY-SUN SOFT

norb everyday sun soft product photo
  • Lumens: 800
  • CCT: 4000K
  • Watts: 9w
  • Shape: A19
  • CRI: 92.3
  • R9: 99
  • Dimmable: Yes
normsile everyday sun soft 4000k a19 spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph
norb everyday sun soft equal luminous flux graph
Sunlight comparison graph
norb everydaysun soft 4000k a19 flicker Risk graph
Flicker risk
norb everydaysun soft 4000k a19 waveform Graph
Waveform

2. GE Sun Filled – Best Overall Runner Up

Another light worth considering is the Sun-Filled line by GE, which uses the same SunLike diodes that Norb uses.

ge sun filled 5000k br30 spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph of the 5000K version
ge sun filled 5000k a21 Equal Luminous Flux graph
The 5000K bulb vs natural sunlight reference

The advantage GE has is that their lights are a bit cheaper and they have less invisible flicker.

Unfortunately, at this time their 5000K A21 bulbs seem to be out of stock everywhere, so if you want one of those you’ll have to defer to NorbSmile’s options which are a bit more expensive.

GE Sun Filled

ge sun filled product photo
  • Lumens: 680-850
  • CCT: 2700-5000K
  • Watts: 10.5w
  • Shape: A21/BR30
  • CRI: 97.7
  • R9: 88
  • Dimmable: Yes
ge sun filled 5000k br30 spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph
ge sun filled 5000k a21 Equal Luminous Flux graph
Sunlight comparison graph
ge sun filled 2700k a19 flicker Risk graph
Flicker risk
ge sun filled 2700k a19 waveform Graph
Waveform

3. Yuji SunWave – Best Premium

Yuji is well known for its extremely high-quality low-flicker lighting, and its new SunWave lineup doesn’t disappoint!

These are currently the only full-spectrum lights I know of that have zero flicker. So if you’re looking for the best of both worlds, the SunWave lights are worth the cost.

The drivers and internal components of Yuji’s LEDs are of much higher quality than the other lights on this list. This ensures that they’ll last much longer and produce very little flicker, again, unlike the other lights we’ve linked to.

yuji lighting vs generic led products

They come in 3000K, 4000K, 5000k, and 6500K versions. These color temps can be purchased in either a regular A19 or BR30 style.

yuji sunwave 6500k a19 spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph of the 6500K version
yuji normlite d50 spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph of the 5000K version
spectral power distribution graph of yuji sunwave 4000k a19
Spectral power distribution graph of the 4000K version
spectral power distribution graph of yuji sunwave 3000k a19
Spectral power distribution graph of the 3000K version

Yuji also has some SunWave LED strips available for sale if that’s something you’re in the market for.

  • More Info

It’s worth noting that the 5000K Yuji meets the ISO standard for “color viewing”. So this may be one of the best options for artists.

Yuji SunWave

yuji-sunwave-product-image

Zero flicker, excellent sunlike spectrum, and great build quality make these our favorite premium light bulbs.

  • Lumens: 1100
  • CCT: 3000-6500K
  • Watts: 11w
  • Shape: A19/BR30
  • CRI: 97.7
  • R9: 97
  • Dimmable: Yes
yuji normlite d50 spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph for 5000K model
Equal Luminous Flux for yuji normlite
Sunlight comparison graph for 5000K model
yuji sunwave 6500k a19 flicker risk graph
Flicker risk
yuji sunwave 6500k a19 waveform graph
Waveform graph

Use code OYBYJ5 for 5% off!

4. Philips Ultra Definition – Best Budget

The new ultra-definition line of bulbs from Philips has a unique color spectrum that’s worth mentioning here.

While it has some large spikes, they’re all concentrated in the longer wavelength red end of the visible spectrum, which I prefer to see over large blue light spikes.

Here are three spectral graphs from three different 5000K ultra-definition lights:

philips ultra definition 5000k br30 7.5w spectral power distribution graph
philips ultra definition 5000k a19 8w clear spectral power distribution graph
philips ultra definition 5000k a21 13.5w clear spectral power distribution graph

Not too bad if you ask me! The average CRI for these lights is also around 95 which is very good! And the flicker isn’t too bad either, certainly better than Norb and GE’s sun-filled.

Just about all of the 5000K ultra-definition bulbs have similar spectral qualities, and vary in their flicker.

You can view all of them in our Light Bulb Database.

Philips Ultra Definition

philips ultra definition product photo

These are the best budget-friendly full-spectrum lights on the market right now.

  • Lumens: 800
  • CCT: 5000K
  • Watts: 8w
  • Shape:
  • CRI: 94.7
  • R9: 90
  • Dimmable: Yes
philips ultra definition 5000k a19 8w frosted spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph
philips ultra definition a19 5000k 8w frosted bulb equal luminous flux graph
Sunlight comparison graph
phillips ultra definition 5000k a19 8w frosted flicker Risk graph
Flicker risk
phillips ultra definition 5000k a19 8w frosted waveform Graph
Waveform

5. Sylvania Natural Series – Honorable Mention

This one is interesting and I wanted to touch on it for a few reasons:

  1. Sylvania is outright lying about some of their claims and…
  2. Some of their lights aren’t too bad.

Sylvania recently came out with its Natural series which boasts its new TruWave Technology.

In their whitepaper for this spectral technology, they claim to output light similar to that of natural sunlight.

graphic of sylvania natural truwave spectrums broader blue range and full spectrum compared to sunlight
The spectrum of TruWave light bulbs according to their whitepaper.

Well, we went out and tested 12 different models (all of which can be found in our Light Bulb Database) of TruWave lights to see what all the fuss was and we were a bit surprised with the results…

Allow me to explain, below are spectral power distribution graphs for the standard 8w and 11w frosted 5000K A19 light bulbs from Sylvania claiming to utilize “TruWave” technology:

sylvania natural 5000k a19 8w frosted spectral power distribution graph
8w
sylvania natural 5000k a19 11w frosted spectral power distribution graph
11w

Do these look like the TruWave spectrum advertised above?

No, they don’t. In fact, they look just like the “Typical LED Light” they compare their TruWave spectrum to.

It would seem Sylvania is lying about their lights. Tisk tisk.

But, as it just so happens, the 15w version does actually contain the fabled TruWave spectrum:

sylvania natural 5000k a21 15w frosted spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph of the 15w 5000K Sylvania Natural bulb.

While there are a few other TruWave lights we tested that had decent spectrums, the 5000K 15W A21 is my favorite and my recommended choice.

The biggest drawback to the Sylvania Natural lineup is that they’re really lacking in the red light output, which many of the other options do a much better job of.

  • Learn more

However, if you were to create a DIY chandelier as we show in our article on How to Mimic Natural Sunlight, you could easily make up for this flaw.

Sylvania Natural 5000K 15w

sylvania natural product photo

The best light bulb the Sylvania Natural series has to offer. A pretty nice spectrum that’s lacking a bit in the red department.

At $5 per bulb, this is one of the best full-spectrum high-lumen lights on the market.

  • Lumens: 1600
  • CCT: 5000K
  • Watts: 15w
  • Shape: A21
  • CRI: 87.3
  • R9: 46
  • Dimmable: Yes
sylvania natural 5000k a21 15w frosted spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph
sylvania natural 5000k a21 frosted 15w Equal Luminous Flux graph
Sunlight comparison graph
sylvania natural 5000k a21 frosted 15w flicker risk Graph
Flicker risk
sylvania natural 5000k a21 frosted 15w waveform Graph
Waveform

  • Info

I’ve had issues with Amazon sending the wrong bulbs for these. If that’s the case for you, Menards also sells TruWave LEDs.

Best Full Spectrum Smart Lights

While I’m not a huge fan of EMF-emitting devices, some people aren’t as concerned about this as I am. So for those of you looking for the best full-spectrum smart lights, Norb is the way to go here.

NorbSMART

The NorbSMART bulbs are available in A19 and BR30 styles and are adjustable from 2650K to 5000K.

The invisible flicker isn’t great, but if that doesn’t bother you then it’s not a problem.

These lights are set up and used through the Tuya app, which I had no issues using myself. The app has 4.5 stars on the Play store and 4.7 stars on the App store so it’s well done.

My only issue with these lights is that the app doesn’t provide the option to create a very natural color transition. It can be done, to some degree, but it’s a bit of a pain to set up.

norbsmart circadian lighting instructions
Directions for setting up circadian lighting for NorbSMART bulbs. From NorbSMART instruction manual.

As you can see, each color temperature, brightness, and transition time has to be manually created. Which to me, feels a bit “dumb” rather than “smart”.

But they do still emit a fantastic spectrum, and if you take the time to set them up how you like I’m sure they’ll satisfy your need for circadian lighting.

NorbSMART

norb smart product photo
  • Lumens: 800
  • CCT: 2650-5000K
  • Watts: 9w
  • Shape: A19
  • CRI: 95.3
  • R9: 94
  • Dimmable: Yes
norm smart a19 spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph
norbsmart 5000k equal luminous flux graph
Sunlight comparison graph
norbsmart a19 flicker Risk graph
Flicker risk
norbsmart a19 waveform Graph
Waveform

Best Adjustable Full Spectrum Lights

An alternative to “smart” lights is the simple switch adjustable light. Simply flip the light switch off and on to change between color temperature modes.

The BioLight

Our favorite option for a full spectrum adjustable light is the BioLight from Block Blue Light.

You can cycle the BioLight between three different color temperatures:

block blue light biolight a19 4250K spectral power distribution graph
4250K setting
block blue light biolight a19 2150K spectral power distribution graph
2150K setting
block blue light biolight a19 1800K spectral power distribution graph
1800K setting

This makes the BioLight a great do-it-all light!

The 4250K setting has fantastic color rendering at a CRI of 97.7 as well as low flicker, and the ability to quickly change it to a very warm and calming 2150K or 1800K light is pretty cool.

The BioLight

blockbluelight full spectrum lighting e27 e26 screw biolight full spectrum light 30401648623790
  • Lumens: 700
  • CCT: 1800-4200K
  • Watts: 8w
  • Shape: A19
  • CRI: 97.7
  • R9: 97
  • Dimmable: No
block blue light biolight spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph
block blue light biolight equal luminous flux graph
Sunlight comparison graph
block blue light biolight flicker Graph
Flicker risk
block blue light biolight waveform Graph
Waveform

Use code OPTIMIZE10 for 10% off

Best Full Spectrum LED Strip

If you’re the type who likes to DIY things, this is the route to go!

I’ve found 4 commercially available LED strips that sport a nice high quality full spectrum light output:

1. AliExpress

This is the only budget-friendly fulls spectrum LED strip currently commercially available that I know of.

It comes in 3000K, 4000K, and 5000K options. If you’re looking for a morning light kind of feeling, go with the 3000K, but if you want the most effective one, go for the 5000K option.

AliExpress Sunlike

aliexpress sunlike led strip product photo
  • Price: $
  • CCT: 3000K, 4000K, 5000K
  • Luminous Flux: 1135lm/M
  • Voltage: 24V
  • Wattage: 12W/M
aliexpress full spectrum led strip spectral power distribution graph
5000K version

2. Yuji SunWave

Yuji’s SunWave strips will run you exponentially more than the current budget AlkiExpress offering. However if you can afford it and are looking for a nicer light source, the SunWave diodes are better from a color rendering standpoint.

Yuji also offers a 2700K-6500K tunable SunWave strip, which is currently the only full-spectrum tunable LED strip that I’m aware of. So if you’re thinking you’d love to be able to change the color temp of your DIY SAD lamp throughout the day, this is the easiest way to achieve that!

Yuji also sells premade panels that can make this whole process a lot easier!

Yuji SunWave

yuji sunwave led strip image
  • Price: $$$
  • CCT: 2700-6500K
  • Luminous Flux: 1100lm/M
  • Voltage: 12/24V
  • Wattage: 18W/M
yuji sunwave 5700k spectral power distribution graph
5600K version

3. LumiTronix SunLike

A third option and usually the most expensive is the LumiTronix LED strips. These look great! I just haven’t used one myself yet.

They utilize Seoul Semiconductors’ new TRI-R SunLike LEDs found in the Norb and GE light bulbs.

They offer single-color strips anywhere from 3000K to 6500K and claim 1700lm/M for the 5700K so this just might be the best option from a circadian effectiveness standpoint.

LumiTronix SunLike

lumitronix Sunlike led strip
  • Price: $$$
  • CCT: 3000-6500K
  • Luminous Flux: 1700lm/M
  • Voltage: 24V
  • Wattage: 19W/M

Sorry, I haven’t tested these yet!

4. Waveform Lighting Absolute Series

Another excellent-looking LED strip comes from Waveform Lighting in the form of their new Absolute Series.

I haven’t personally tested these but the photometric reports and TM30 data provided by Waveform show that they produce a very lovely color!

You will pay for these bad boys though, to the tune of $350 per 5M strip! Yikes.

Waveform Lighting Absolute Series

waveform lighting absolute series led strips
  • Price: $$$$$
  • CCT: 5000 & 6500K
  • Luminous Flux: 1250lm/M
  • Voltage: 12/24V
  • Wattage: 17W/M

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16 Comments

  1. Interesting article for American peoples (EN)

    CRI – it is just fu … ing marketing! What is CRI number mean? It is middle of first 8 indexes! R1-R8, but there is 15 CRI indexes! R9 – it is red color, how natural skin color will be. If low R9 index, so tits of your wife will seems as dead (zombie) colors (sure it is not problem for necrophiles).

    Also about violet spectrum. There is no indexes to measure violet spectrum, only by spectrogram, but violet is important spectrum too. With violet spectrum white things will seems more white after reflecting violet spectrum (also the retroreflective elements of cars and roads will shine as they should from the violet spectrum).

    About flickering. I found a lot of trash bulbs with flickering in Norway, also all smart bulbs with flickering, you need to choose more high frequency to choose less evil, and also they have pink duv because they mix too cold with too warm leds.

    There is no quality led driver in the market. You can not find led drivers with high temperature capacitors, you need to upgrade it like I do. (add real 130° Japanese capacitors, not just marked as 125° by Chinese print technologies ordinary 105° or 85°, add CBB capacitors, add NTC resistor to protect diode bridge, and add radiator to microchip that works as transistor too).

    Also SunLike leds have some problem with lumen/watt. It is low, sure because of violet and 660nm red spectrums, because lux meter has 100% sensitive only in green-yellow spectrum (as a human eye, as crazy scientists told us). And it is the reason why SunLike bulbs already not legal in EU (new SE norms). How to do more lumens? Add leds (200-300%) and give good cooling to the leds. But is is expensive!

    So, only 1 way to take good bulbs what will work real 30-50k hours (not 2000h as ordinary cheap bulbs) — it is DIY SunLike bulbs

    1. I’ve seen your stuff before! Good to hear from you.

      I actually measure CRI by taking the average of all 15 indexes 😉 because I agree, CRI (Ra) is a bit of a marketing buzz word at this point.

      The consumer LED lighting market has a long way to go before they offer truly excellent LED lighting products and at a decent price.

      I like your offerings, it’s just not very US friendly, given there are no dollar sign options. The product and menu selection is also very confusing to the average consumer I would say. Keep it up though!

      1. Yes, this is the reason too. Actually for this moment I have only 12w E27 model (in some future I am going to restart 13.5W, 16-18W and GX53 models). New web-site with actual models and prices still not ready (even never started). It was difficult to produce different models in “mottak prison” (for today I am already 2 month on freedom finally)

        And shipping from Norway to non European is not so cheap as been from Belarus (35 per 0-1kg parcel now)

        I have no any hope to have possibility to buy good led bulbs next 5-10 years =( Maybe after 10 years..

  2. Hello!

    Darn that those china lamps are too hard to get for me, but
    If you measured all of these lights, could you give a detailed measurments for Yuji SunWave. Im interested in the cri balance.

    Maybe you could also include one lampmans lamp to the review!

    Tattista

    1. I’m working on measuring the Yuji lights in more detail right now! So I will try to provide that info soon.

      As for the Sunlike lamps, unfortunately the variety and cost of his lights is just too high for me to feasibly test at this time.

  3. You write that NorbSMART are the only full spectrum smart bulbs right now, but Ledvance claim that their Sun@Home range is full spectrum due to the use of SunLike LED’s. Have you tested, or heard of, these? I would love to hear your thought about them because they are pretty affordable and accessible in EU.

    1. I have heard of these and I should add those to the list! Unfortunately as of right now I cannot get access to them here in the US. AS far as I know they are only available for purchase on ledvance.com and they only ship to European countries. They look great though!

      Hopefully they expand to the US at some point and then I will definitely get my hands on some.

  4. Will you write and publish an article for us? We are manufacturer for led lights indoor and outdoor, industrial lighting. Waiting for your reply.

  5. HI! THANKYOU FOR ALL YOUR RESEARCH. ONE QUICK QUESTION, I HAVE AN OUTSIDE PATIO THAT DOES NOT GET ANY SUNLIGHT. WHAT LAMPS DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR OUTDOOR USE? THIS PATIO IS NEXT TO A GAMEROOM THAT WOULD DEFINETLY NEED THE FEELING OF SUNLIGHT COMMING THROUGH THE WINDOWS. HAVE YOU TRIED THE T5?

  6. Am I correct in thinking that any adjustable smart light falls under this criteria? Is there a reason you didn’t test the most widely used ones like Philips Hue and LIFX? I think that would be more informative to many seeing as they’re the most popular lights. Even if it’s the case that they fail thresholds it’d be helpful to know. Thanks for your work!

    1. I would say those lights unfortunately do not currently fall under the criteria of “full-spectrum” as as far as I know they still use fairly ordinary phosphors in their white light diodes. This means they don’t achieve “sunlike” output like the lights in this article.

      However, you would be correct in saying they are among the leaders in smart lighting and thus the best choice for “dynamic” circadian lighting.

      I plan to test them thoroughly in the future once I get my hands on some new equipment!