While there is no reliable way to identify full-spectrum light with the naked eye, it has a distinct spectral distribution that makes it unique from other types of lighting. Similar to the sun, full-spectrum lighting products emit light that is evenly distributed across the visual spectrum, from red to violet. This means that the same amount of light is produced in each color wavelength. This balance of colors helps create the crispness and clarity that full-spectrum bulbs are known for.

Other light sources produce far more uneven distributions, which can vary depending on the bulb type. For example, typical incandescent bulbs emit more intense energy in red wavelengths than in blue and green, while cool LEDs produce light in mostly blue wavelengths. Although it may appear similar to the naked eye, full-spectrum lighting provides several advantages not offered by more traditional light sources.