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Understanding Lumens & Watts

Consumers who are researching lighting or shopping for bulbs commonly see three delineations to describe illumination: lumens, watts, and kelvin. These differences often leave people confused, which can result in potentially uneducated decisions. Today we want to demystify the terms watts and lumens to make finding the right light that much easier.

Understanding Lumens

Lumens refer to the total amount of visible light emanating from a lamp or light source. As the lumen rating increases, the lamp appears brighter; as it decreases, it appears dimmer. By looking at lumens, you can purchase the amount of light you require.

The brightness of your property's lights will vary widely, so here's a good rule of thumb:

  • Replace a 100-watt incandescent bulb with one that gives you about 1600 lumens. For dimmer lights, choose fewer lumens; for brighter lights, look for more.

  • If you replace a 75W bulb with an LED bulb, you can expect about 1100 lumens

  • Upgrade a 60W bulb to an LED that is about 800 lumens.

  • Rather than a 40W bulb, use an LED bulb rated at about 450 lumens.

Understanding Watts

Power consumption and energy consumption are measured in Watts. A higher wattage bulb produces a brighter light than an incandescent bulb. When it comes to energy-efficient bulbs such as LEDs, this is somewhat different as there is no hard and fast rule to relate wattage to output, and LEDs use much less power. While one brand's 9 Watt LED bulb may create enough lumens to replace a 60 Watt incandescent, another brand may need to use a less efficient LED such as 12 Watts to generate enough lumens to replace that same 60 Watt bulb. Because of this, when evaluating light output, lumens are more important than watts.

Here is a handy guide to help when trying to convert/compare lumens and watts.


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