Light Bulb Facts: The Meaning of Lumens - The Edit | Lumens.com (2023)

We’ll show you how lumens are measured, an easy way to translate watts to lumens and why all …

Light Bulb Facts: The Meaning of Lumens - The Edit | Lumens.com (1)

Lighting is all about lumens. Lumens is the way to find out the brightness of a lighted bulb or integrated LED lighting fixture. If you’re used to thinking in wattage, you’re not alone. Here are some guidelines to help you learn the new way to shop for light bulbs. We’ll show you how lumens are measured, an easy way to translate watts to lumens and why all these changes are a good thing.

What is a lumen? How is it different from a watt?

The definition of lumen is: “a unit of luminous flux in the International System of Units, that is equal to the amount of light given out through a solid angle by a source of one candela intensity radiating equally in all directions.”

In short, lumens equal brightness. And watts do not. Not that watts are bad, but they measure energy use, not light output. With new, energy-efficient LED technology, we can no longer rely upon wattage to indicate how bright a bulb is. See how to measure lumens below:

How many lumens do you need?

If you used to buy this in incandescentLook for this many lumensLED
(most efficient)
CFL
(more efficient)
Halogen
(more efficient incandescent)
100 W1600up to 22 Wup to 26 Wup to 72 W
75 W1100up to 20 Wup to 23 Wup to 53 W
60 W800up to 12 Wup to 15 Wup to 43 W
40 W450up to 9 Wup to 11 Wup to 29 W

Use the chart above to determine exactly how many lumens are in a watt and vice versa. This should provide you with a good understanding of how bright 120 lumens is vs. a fixture with 5000 lumens. Additionally, you can use the color temperature chart to help you in choosing the best lighting for your application.

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How do I read the new light bulb label?

The changes in lighting regulations and technologies mean that there are new lighting terms to learn. For example, while we’ve previously looked to watts to learn a bulb’s brightness, that information is now presented in lumens. Newer bulbs have a Lighting Facts label that will give you all the details of a particular bulb:

Light Bulb Facts: The Meaning of Lumens - The Edit | Lumens.com (2)

Brightness:This is measured in lumens on the label. For example, 1100 lumens has brightness equivalent to a 75-watt bulb. This label is showing 820 lumens for a 60-watt incandescent bulb.

Estimated Yearly Cost:This is based on a set rate of usage each day. While your actual use may vary, the dollar amount noted will give you a good baseline.

Life:The overall expected life of the bulb, often in years. This is also based on estimated daily usage.

Light Appearance:Also known as color temperature, ranging from warm/yellow light to cool/blue light. (Warmer light in the 2700K range is what you’d expect from a standard incandescent.) The K stands for kelvin.

Energy Used:Here is wattage in its proper place. And with a shift to more energy efficient light sources, you will not see the 40, 60, 75 or 100 watts like you used to. These days, you will more often see values in the twenties, teens or even single digits.

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How do I choose an energy-efficient light bulb?

If you love incandescents, look to halogen.

The incandescent bulb isn’t dead, but once retailers’ supplies are depleted, that’s it. Moving forward, the general service bulbs available will include halogen light bulbs, which is a subcategory of incandescent bulbs. They are 25% more energy efficient than standard incandescents, and they can last up to three times longer. Also, like standard incandescent bulbs, halogen bulbs are dimmable and come in a range of sizes, shapes and colors. Available halogen options and their discontinued standard incandescent equivalents are as follows:

  • 29 watts halogen = 40 watts incandescent
  • 43 watts halogen = 60 watts incandescent
  • 53 watts halogen = 75 watts incandescent
  • 72 watts halogen = 100 watts incandescent

Look for the ENERGY STAR label.

Especially in LEDs, the manufacturing quality of the bulb varies, with lesser bulbs not lasting as long as their better-built counterparts. Lighting experts currently recommend only buying ENERGY STAR-qualified LED light bulbs, as they must pass numerous quality tests to earn that designation.

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Look at the bulb’s Color Rendering Index (CRI).

This will help with CFLs especially. You want your fluorescents to have a good CRI, which is the measurement of how true the color of an object looks under the bulb’s light. A good CRI for most indoor residential applications is 80 or above. A really good one is 90 or above, which is an excellent choice for bathroom vanity lights. All halogen/incandescent light bulbs have a CRI at or near 100.

Check the color temperature.

On new light bulb labels, you can find the bulbs’ color temperature, measured on the Kelvin scale. The warmer light colors associated with incandescents are on the lower end of the scale. So, if that’s your preference, look for LEDs and CFLs with light color temperatures in the 2700K to 3000K range. Pure white light hovers around 4000K, while cooler temperatures that simulate daylight are 5000K or higher.

Forget watts…look for lumens.

Lumens equal brightness; watts measure energy used. CFLs and LEDs use much fewer watts than incandescents with the same brightness. As a rule, you’ll replace a standard 75-watt bulb with an energy-saving bulb of about 1100 lumens. On the low end, replace a 40-watt bulb with an energy-saving bulb of about 450 lumens. Rely on new bulb labeling standards to show lumen output and help you choose the right brightness for your needs.

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What are the new light bulb laws?

The problem with traditional incandescent bulbs is that only 10% of their energy goes toward the production of light. The other 90% is heat—aka unused (essentially wasted) energy.

Concerned about this significant waste of energy, the federal government set out to change regulations on light bulbs, requiring them to be more efficient. Since 2012, federal laws have gradually required the common types of light bulbs to be 25% more energy efficient. These federal regulations first applied to 100-watt incandescents (in 2012), 75-watt bulbs (in 2013) and 40-60 watt bulbs (in 2014).

California Lightbulb Efficiency Law

As of 2020, California requires general-purpose bulbs to produce a minimum of 45 lumens per watt, similar to a CFL.

So, it’s not that incandescent bulbs are going away—they are simply changing. Plus, there are still many incandescent bulbs that are exempt from these regulations. Three-way bulbs (often used in table and floor lamps), colored lights and appliance bulbs are all staying the same.

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There are serious, measurable benefits to these changes. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates a collective household savings of $6 billion dollars nationwide—each year. In other words, if you upgrade 15 standard bulbs to new, more efficient ones, you will save $75 or more a year in energy costs.

Thankfully, the more energy efficient light bulbs (primarily halogen, compact fluorescent, LED) now on the market are available in an amazing array of sizes, colors and shapes. And, yes, there are many that create that same wonderful, warm glow of the incandescent we’ve come to know and love.

What are my light bulb options?

People have long loved the warm, flame-like color of the standard incandescent bulb. Luckily, there are three alternatives that can recreate such light in much more energy efficient and longer lasting ways: halogen, fluorescent and LED. As long as the base matches, you can choose any of these bulbs to retrofit incandescent light fixtures.

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Halogen: Energy-efficient and warm (incandescent!) light. Halogen bulbs are actually incandescent lighting with their energy savings kicked up a couple notches.

  • Efficiency: At least 25% more efficient than standard incandescent
  • Dimmable: Fully dimmable, just like standard incandescent
  • Light Appearance: Bright white light and good color rendering
  • Average Life: 1,000 hours (standard medium base; other bulb shapes and base types can have slightly different life spans)
  • Suggested Uses: Great for bright downlighting: task, accent, undercabinet and mini pendants

Like halogen, xenon and krypton bulbs are also energy-efficient incandescent bulbs. Xenon doesn’t get as hot as halogen, and can be a better option in tight or enclosed lighting fixtures.

Light Bulb Facts: The Meaning of Lumens - The Edit | Lumens.com (5)

Fluorescent and Compact Fluorescent (CFL): These energy-efficient bulbs have come a long way. Today, they are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and have improved accuracy in how they render color. So, everything looks more natural.

  • Efficiency: About 75% more efficient than standard incandescent
  • Dimmable: Not always dimmable (check the bulb’s label)
  • Light Appearance: Wide variety of light colors and improved color rendering (often above 80 CRI)
  • Average Life: 8,000 hours (standard medium base)
  • Suggested Uses: Great for indoor home lighting (portables, recessed, kitchen) and commercial spaces

LED: Long-lasting, eco-friendly and super energy efficient…what’s not to love? LED bulbs are fast becoming the coolest light bulb of them all—literally, as they emit almost no heat and they thrive in cold locations.

  • Efficiency: At least 75% more efficient than standard incandescent
  • Dimmable: Dimmable options and LED-compatible dimmers available
  • Light Appearance: Wide variety of light colors and high color rendering (80-90 CRI)
  • Average Life: 25,000+ hours (standard medium base)
  • Suggested Uses: Great for outdoor, landscape, recessed, task and decorative lighting

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FAQs

What is lumens in a light bulb? ›

What's a Lumen? Lumens measure how much light you are getting from a bulb. More lumens means it's a brighter light; fewer lumens means it's a dimmer light.

What is a good level of lumens? ›

The kitchen is the room where you want clean, crisp light and ultimate brightness. On average, you want the lumen level to be between 5,000 and 10,000.

How many lumens is a good light? ›

Home office: 6,000 to 8,000 lumens. Dining room: 3,000 to 4,000 lumens. Kitchen: 3,000 to 4,000 lumens.

How many lumens is the brightest light bulb? ›

The more lumens listed by a bulb, the brighter the light you can expect (and the inverse is true, the lower the lumen, the dimmer the bulb). Currently, the brightest LED bulb used for general use is rated at 5500 lumens (although there are some consumer flashlights sold with higher lumen ratings).

How bright is 1000 lumens? ›

A 1000 lumen flashlight is quite bright and, depending on the lens or reflector design, powerful enough to reach a distance of 200 meters or more. This type of flashlight allows you to see objects from a far distance.

Is 800 lumens very bright? ›

An 800 lumen security light is bright and will easily illuminate the areas around your home. It's a good option for lighting up where you need it most, with additional features such as motion sensors available to choose from depending on how much control or automation you require.

Is 5000 lumens too bright? ›

Is 5000 Lumens Bright Enough? A 5000 lumen LED is a very bright light source, and is likely to be too bright for some applications. For example, it would be too harsh for general room lighting where a more subtle level of illumination is required.

How many lumens is super bright? ›

Super Bright Heavy Duty Hand Held flashlight - the super ultra brightest 1200 lumen (maximum) CREE 2 LED bulb produces a bright focused beam with a lighting distance range of more than 2600 ft / 800 m.

How bright is 2000 lumens? ›

A 2000 lumen LED bulb is equivalent to a 150-watt incandescent light bulb. The brightness of a 2000 lumen LED bulb is very bright and requires a good level of heat management to ensure the LED chip is protected from heat build up and potential early failure.

How many lumens is a 60-watt bulb? ›

Lumens measure brightness. For example, a 60-watt incandescent bulb produces about 800 lumens of light.

How many lumens does a 12x12 room need? ›

As a handy rule of thumb, a sitting room or bedroom will generally require around 10-20 lumens per square foot, while a bathroom or kitchen will need a stronger level of lighting, at around 70-80 lumens per square foot. To work out the lumens you need, simply multiply the square footage of the room by this figure.

How many watts is 1000 lumens? ›

A 1000 lumen LED is approximately equal to a 75-watt incandescent light bulb or 12-watts for an LED strip.

What is better LED or lumens? ›

Clearly, in the case of measuring LEDs, lumens are the better measurement. Use lumens to find the right lighting for your next need, remembering that higher lumens mean a brighter light.

What is the best light bulb for brightness? ›

For yellowish to warm light, look for bulbs marked 2700-3000K. For a whiter light, look for bulbs marked 3500-4100K. For bluer white light, look for bulbs marked 5000-6500K. Most ENERGY STAR certified bulbs are made to match the color of incandescent bulbs - Opens in new window at 2700-3000K.

How many lumens is the sun? ›

Direct sunlight has a luminous efficacy of about 93 lumens per watt of radiant flux. Multiplying the figure of 1050 watts per square meter by 93 lumens per watt indicates that bright sunlight provides an illuminance of approximately 98 000 lux (lumens per square meter) on a perpendicular surface at sea level.

How many lumens is a 40 watt bulb? ›

Watts to Lumens – Energy Output to Brightness Produced

40-watt bulb produces 450 lumens of light. 60-watt bulb produces 800 lumens of light (most widely used in households) 75-watt bulb produces 1,100 lumens of light. 100-watt bulb produces 1,600 lumens of light.

How many watts is 8000 lumens? ›

Lumens To Watts Calculator
Luminous flux (lm)Light sourcePower (W)
6000Metal halide lamp68.96551724
7000High-pressure sodium vapor lamp59.82905983
8000Low pressure sodium vapor lamp53.33333333
9000Mercury vapor lamp180
12 more rows

Is 1500 lumens bright enough? ›

Lumens is the unit measurement of brightness, with 1 lumen equalling the brightness of 1 candle, so 1500 lumens have the brightness of 1500 candles. 1500 Lumens is a very good level of light for LED, CFL or incandescent lighting.

Is 1000 lumens bright enough for a room? ›

For every 100 square feet, 1000 lumens is sufficient for low-light level areas such as living rooms and lounge areas, while task-oriented spaces may require up to 3000 lumens or more.

How strong is 1200 lumens? ›

LED Bulb. A 1200 lumen LED bulb is typically 14W and equivalent to over a traditional 100 watt incandescent light bulb. The brightness of a 1200 lumen LED bulb is very bright and suitable for most home lighting applications.

How many lumens is a 100 watt bulb? ›

The current 100-watt incandescent bulb is the equivalent of about 1600 lumens.

How Far Will 3000 lumens shine? ›

The brightness of an 3000 lumen torch (UK for flashlight) is the power of light of 3000 candles. This level is regarded as a very bright level of torch suitable for most outdoor tasks. The throw of light can be up to a 100m distance.

What does 6000 lumens look like? ›

Lumens is the unit measurement of brightness, with 1 lumen equalling the brightness of 1 candle, so 6000 lumens has the brightness of 6000 candles. 6000 lumens is a very good level of light for LED or incandescent lighting.

How many lumens can damage your eyes? ›

Shining a light that's brighter than 10,000 lumens into someone's eye can cause permanent eye damage and even blindness.

Is 1600 lumens too bright? ›

Lumens is the unit measurement of brightness, with 1 lumen equalling the brightness of 1 candle, so 1600 lumens has the brightness of 1600 candles. 1600 Lumens is a very good level of light for LED, CFL or incandescent lighting.

How many lumens is a night light? ›

Night lights should use low wattage bulbs and emit no more than 50 lumens.

How much is 4000 lumens in watts? ›

For an incandescent light bulb, 4000 lumens would be around 250-300 watts. For a CFL light bulb, it would be around 70 watts. And for an LED light bulb, it would be around 27 watts.

What is the brightest type of LED? ›

Yes, as you can see by the table above, 5630 LEDs are by far the brightest, but it is not due simply to a larger lighting surface. There are other factors that go into the output of an LED diode (measured in luminous flux/lumens). The reasons are to do with the design of the chip and the amount of power that they draw.

What are the 4 types of light bulbs? ›

Navigating

There are four different types of light bulbs available for residential use: incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, and LED. These varieties have different characteristics including the quality of light emitted, the amount of energy used, and more.

How many lumens is a LED bulb? ›

Depending on the bulb and the manufacturer, LED technology typically produces 75-110 lumens/watt. So, LEDs are generally about 7 times more efficient at producing light than incandescent bulbs. Use a 7:1 ratio as a rough guide when selecting an LED bulb to replace an incandescent bulb.

What happens when you put a higher watt LED light bulb? ›

Using a light bulb with too high of wattage can lead to overheating of the light bulb. This heat can melt the light socket as well as the insulation of the wires. Once that happens, you put yourself at risk of arc faults, and this is something that could even lead to property fires.

How bright is 1100 lumens? ›

Brightness: This is measured in lumens on the label. For example, 1100 lumens has brightness equivalent to a 75-watt bulb.

How many lumens is 55 watts? ›

Most cars come with halogen lamps which tend to run at approximately 55 watts and emit between 900-1,000 lumens of light.

What color light is best for kitchen? ›

Warm white (3,000 to 4,000 Kelvin) is more yellowish-white. These bulbs are best suited for kitchens and bathrooms. Bright white (4,000 to 5,000 Kelvin) is between white and blue tones.

How many lumens is 1200 watts? ›

Watts to Lumens Comparison
PowerLight bulbHalogen lamp
40 W430 lm500 lm
60 W730 lm900 lm
75 W970 lm1200 lm
100 W1380 lm1700 lm
6 more rows

How much watt LED bulb is required for a room? ›

Whether it is to work on the screen or it will have to be used for normal use. A room of 10×10 square feet requires 2400 lumens of light (how much brightness is required). For this an LED bulb of 20 to 25 watts is sufficient.

What LED light bulb equals 100 watts? ›

Viribright 100 Watt Equivalent (13W), LED Light Bulbs, Warm White 2700K, A19 100w Bulb, A19 Base Light Bulb, 4 Pack - - Amazon.com.

Is 5000 lumens too bright? ›

Is 5000 Lumens Bright Enough? A 5000 lumen LED is a very bright light source, and is likely to be too bright for some applications. For example, it would be too harsh for general room lighting where a more subtle level of illumination is required.

Is 1000 lumens bright enough for a room? ›

For every 100 square feet, 1000 lumens is sufficient for low-light level areas such as living rooms and lounge areas, while task-oriented spaces may require up to 3000 lumens or more.

How many lumens is a 40 watt bulb? ›

Watts to Lumens – Energy Output to Brightness Produced

40-watt bulb produces 450 lumens of light. 60-watt bulb produces 800 lumens of light (most widely used in households) 75-watt bulb produces 1,100 lumens of light. 100-watt bulb produces 1,600 lumens of light.

How many lumens is the sun? ›

Direct sunlight has a luminous efficacy of about 93 lumens per watt of radiant flux. Multiplying the figure of 1050 watts per square meter by 93 lumens per watt indicates that bright sunlight provides an illuminance of approximately 98 000 lux (lumens per square meter) on a perpendicular surface at sea level.

How many lumens is a 100 watt bulb? ›

The current 100-watt incandescent bulb is the equivalent of about 1600 lumens.

How many watts is 8000 lumens? ›

Lumens To Watts Calculator
Luminous flux (lm)Light sourcePower (W)
6000Metal halide lamp68.96551724
7000High-pressure sodium vapor lamp59.82905983
8000Low pressure sodium vapor lamp53.33333333
9000Mercury vapor lamp180
12 more rows

How many lumens does a 12x12 room need? ›

As a handy rule of thumb, a sitting room or bedroom will generally require around 10-20 lumens per square foot, while a bathroom or kitchen will need a stronger level of lighting, at around 70-80 lumens per square foot. To work out the lumens you need, simply multiply the square footage of the room by this figure.

How bright is 2000 lumens? ›

A 2000 lumen LED bulb is equivalent to a 150-watt incandescent light bulb. The brightness of a 2000 lumen LED bulb is very bright and requires a good level of heat management to ensure the LED chip is protected from heat build up and potential early failure.

How many lumens is an LED bulb? ›

Depending on the bulb and the manufacturer, LED technology typically produces 75-110 lumens/watt. So, LEDs are generally about 7 times more efficient at producing light than incandescent bulbs. Use a 7:1 ratio as a rough guide when selecting an LED bulb to replace an incandescent bulb.

What are the 4 types of light bulbs? ›

Navigating

There are four different types of light bulbs available for residential use: incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, and LED. These varieties have different characteristics including the quality of light emitted, the amount of energy used, and more.

Which light bulb is the brightest? ›

When compared to other types of lighting product, LED lights are the most energy efficient and offer a brighter light for the same wattage. Good quality LED fixtures now output around 170 lumens per watt; a fluorescent puts out around 110. However, that's just part of the story!

How many watts is 1000 lumens? ›

A 1000 lumen LED is approximately equal to a 75-watt incandescent light bulb or 12-watts for an LED strip.

What is better lumens or watts? ›

If you are looking for the right amount of light (brightness), think lumens, not Watts. Lumens give a measure of the amount of light – the brightness – produced by a light bulb. Whether it's a CFL, LED, halogen, fluoro or incandescent bulb, the bigger the number, the brighter the bulb.

What type of bulb gives the best light? ›

LED bulbs fit standard light sockets and are the most energy-efficient option. LEDs have lower wattage than incandescent bulbs but emit the same light output. This allows them to produce the same amount of light but use less energy. LEDs can last more than 20 years and don't contain mercury.

Which is brighter bright white or daylight? ›

Daylight is a brighter, more blue-white color than bright white. A bright white bulb is considered to be more of a pure white. In contrast, a daylight bulb mirrors actual daylight by being further up the Kelvin temperature scale.

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