For a very long time, people determined the brightness of a bulb by looking at the number of watts it had. A standard 60-watt bulb used to be brighter than a 25-watt bulb. But wattage does not actually indicate brightness. As can be seen with modern LED lights, these bulbs not only last 25 times longer, but they also emit more light while using fewer watts.
This is why lumen became the new standard measurement. You may have heard your electrician mention it or seen it on a lighting facts label. But what are lumens? What are watts? What is the difference? Why does it matter? Below, an electrician answers these and other questions. You will also learn how to choose the correct replacement bulb for your home.
What Are Watts?
Watts indicate how much electricity an appliance or fixture consumes. It’s also the one thing you should look out for if you want to lower your energy bill. A lower-wattage incandescent bulb consumes less energy but isn’t as bright.
What Are Lumens?
On the other hand, lumens show how much light a bulb emits. Lumens are a measure of luminous flux or brightness. The more lumens a light source has, the brighter it shines. The overhead light in your kitchen has more lumen than, for example, your bedside lamp.
Comparing Watts and Lumens
Years ago, asking for a 60-watt incandescent bulb indicated how much light it would emit. But today, with the ever-changing LED technology, this way of measuring brightness has become incorrect.
For example, a 60-watt incandescent bulb emits around 800 to 900 lumens, though the amount of lumen depends on the bulb’s energy efficiency. A CFL bulb with the same amount of lumen consumes around 20 watts, while a LED bulb only uses about 10 watts.
As light manufacturers continue to improve the energy efficiency of LEDs, LED lights will emit more and more lumens but use a lot less energy.
Understanding the Lighting Facts Label
Before choosing replacement bulbs, you must first understand the label of light bulbs: the Lighting Facts. To make it easier for homeowners and electricians to choose bulbs based on lumens instead of watts, the Federal Trade Commission requires all light bulb packages to include this label.
The lighting label consists of the following information:
- The brightness, which is measured in lumen;
- The estimated yearly energy cost, based on daily usage and average energy rate;
- The life expectancy of the bulb, based on hours used;
- The light appearance, or color temperature, measured in Kelvin (more on that below);
- The energy consumption in watts.
In the case of CFL bulbs, the label will also indicate if the bulb contains mercury.
How to Choose the Right LED Replacement Bulb
By now, you should know that incandescent bulbs consume a tremendous amount of energy compared to other light types. Lighting makes up around 15 percent of the total energy consumption in a typical household. You can save more than $200 annually by replacing traditional lights with LEDs.
Energy savings are not the only benefit you will get from an upgrade. Because LEDs use fewer watts, they don’t get warm like incandescents. Electricians have responded to many electrical malfunctions caused by overheating incandescent light. These lights have also been the cause of many home electrical fires.
Unfortunately, you cannot directly compare the two lighting technologies. Your electrician may also recommend a complete lighting upgrade instead of replacing a single bulb. Following are some of the factors that you will need to consider when shopping for replacement bulbs:
Amount of Lumen
You can find many watt-to-lumen converters on the web. They can give you a rough idea of what type of LED you should look for. For example, if you want to replace a 75-watt bulb, look for a bulb with about 1,100 lumens. For a 100-watt bulb, a 1,600-lumen light should do.
Color of the Light
You must also determine if the bulb should provide warm or cool light. The light appearance rating on the label indicates this.
A light of 2,000K to 3,000K will be more soft or warm white suitable for living rooms. Higher ratings are cooler and suited for task lighting in the kitchen and office.
Other factors include where the light is used; the kitchen, bedroom, desk, or outdoors. Also, remember the type of light matters; some folks may opt for a simple bulb, while others may prefer a flood light or a tube.
Last and most important, pay attention to the voltage of the electrical circuit. Your local electrician will help you determine if the current circuit can safely accommodate the upgrades you want to make.
To Wrap It Up!
In the question of watt versus lumen, there is no debate. Both are essential measurements to help you choose the best lighting for your home. Lumens alone won’t tell you how high your energy bill will be, nor does a high wattage necessarily make a room brighter.
When planning your lighting upgrades, hire a local electrician. The technician will ensure you don’t accidentally light up your home when bringing in the light.
Don’t Let That Light-Bulb Moment Go Out
As technology advances, homeowners struggle to keep up with all the new trends and code requirements. But with the expertise of our trusted electricians at Mister Sparky of Florence, homeowners can rest assured that their home’s electrical system is in safe hands. We are known for our great customer service, punctuality, and excellent work.
Our electrical services range from lighting installs to electrical repairs, appliance installations, and code compliance. Even during an emergency, you can count on our electricians to rush to your aid. Give Mister Sparky of Florence a call today to learn more about the Sparky difference.
See our previous blog on this topic here.
Photo By concept w at Shutterstock