The Difference Between Lumens and Watts

The Difference Between Lumens and Watts

With the introduction of new energy-saving technologies such as LEDs, power usage is no longer relevant when looking for the brightness of a light. So, instead of purchasing bulbs based on watts, which only measures how much power a bulb consumes, a user is now given lumens.

With traditional incandescent light sources, typically the higher the wattage, the brighter the light.  With LEDs, this is somewhat different because there is no set rule to compare wattage with output.   Lumens, then, is a measurement of total light output, the brightness of the bulb.  The higher number of lumens, the brighter the light will be.  Think of it as what gallons are to milk.

The Federal Trade Commission requires all bulb manufacturers to list the number of lumens on a label. They also include the life expectancy and the estimated energy cost per year. As more energy efficient bulbs enter the market, we're seeing less of the watt and more of the lumen.  Below is a chart to translate watts into lumens to ensure a match when replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs (these estimated numbers are based on incandescent bulbs only).

150 Watts = 2600 Lumens

100 Watts = 1600 Lumens

75 Watts = 1100 Lumens

60 Watts = 800 Lumens

40 Watts = 450 Lumens

25 Watts = 200 Lumens

Many household and commercial fixtures were not designed with LED bulbs in mind. They typically feature warnings that indicate "Fixture designed for a XXX max watt bulb". These are heat ratings designed to prevent users from placing a higher wattage bulb inside of the fixture than what it was designed for. Since LED bulbs consume far less wattage, they produce less heat. Therefore a 60-Watt equal LED bulb could be safely used in a fixture rated for a 40 Watt incandescent.

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