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Are You Still In The Dark About Lumens vs Watts?

Published: November 28, 2018 Last Updated: March 18, 2019

Back in the “good old days” buying a light bulb was an easy task. You looked at the watts on the packet and if it said 100 watts then you immediately knew that it was brighter than the 60 watts bulb you were looking to replace. Unfortunately all of this changed with the introduction of LED, CFL and light bulbs intent on saving power.

Today’s new rating system has been giving shoppers a hard time for some time with the confusion seeming to arise from the word ‘lumens’ sat alongside the more familiar word ‘watts’. So we thought we’d shed some light (pardon the pun) on the differences between the two to make shopping for light bulbs an easy task once more.

The difference between lumens and watts

Lumens is a unit of measurement to specify the amount of light that a bulb is emitting. Watts, on the other hand, measures how much electrical power the bulb will use. As far as incandescent bulbs were concerned you’d pretty much gauge how much light your bulb would give out according to how high the wattage number. When it comes to lumens, then you need to know that 1 lumen gives out about the same amount of a light as a single birthday candle.

The idea with energy saving bulbs is that they use fewer watts to produce more light. No matter what brand of incandescent bulb you buy, they’re all pretty much standard across the board. However, because energy saving bulbs are so varied, you don’t know if they’ll both be as bright as each other. This is why you’ll find lumen figures printed on the packaging for CFL and LED bulbs as opposed to just the wattage on incandescent bulbs.

Lumens per watt

To get your head around this, then you can compare “lumens per watt” to “miles per gallon”. This indicates the level of its efficiency and measures how many lumens of electricity a bulb can produce when using just 1 watt of electricity. It’s this equation which you need to take into account when purchasing modern day light bulbs. So the first thing is to have in mind how much light you want your bulb to produce in lumens. If you want your room to be really bright then look at a bulb with a high lumens figure or if you want something dimmer, then look for a bulb with fewer lumens. To determine which bulb has the greater efficiency rating check out the lumens per watt rating. Usually this figure is just an average as bulbs get less efficient over time. Once you’ve found a bulb with the number of lumens that you want then choose the one with the lowest wattage to be sure that you’re buying the most efficient bulb.

How bright a light will be

Until you feel comfortable with using lumens to give you an idea of how bright the light will be, then use this simple chart to give you an approximate comparison to watts:

  • 40W is equivalent to 450 lumens
  • 60W is equivalent to 800 lumens
  • 75W is equivalent to 1100 lumens
  • 100W is equivalent to 1600 lumens
  • 150W is equivalent to 2600 lumens

Therefore if you’re looking to replace a 60watt bulb for a bedside lamp and want a level of brightness that is comparable, then choose a bulb which is 800 lumens.

Hopefully that’s helped you understand lumens. We’re full of good free advice here at Static Electrics and also pretty good when it comes to installing new lights, servicing your air conditioning units, installing solar panels, and much more besides. So if you’ve any electrical work that needs doing just call our electricians on {{ context.constants.company_info | parse_json | dig: 'secondary_phone' }} and we’ll send a technician to you.

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