Are you thinking about going light bulb shopping? Designing the perfect lighting arrangement for your home or office spaces? If so, it’s a very good idea to stop everything and first take the time to understand all about lumens vs watts.

When shopping for new light bulbs like LED bulbs or incandescent bulbs, you’ll often see light output measured in lumens. Lumens refer to the total amount of light that a bulb produces. The higher the lumen rating, the brighter the light bulb. Lumen measurements allow you to compare the brightness of different bulb types like incandescent, LED, halogen, etc. So, if you need a certain amount of light for a room or fixture, choose a bulb with the appropriate lumen level.

On the other hand, watts refer to how much energy or electricity a light bulb consumes. Older incandescent bulbs were labelled with wattages like 40W, 60W, and 100W to indicate how much power they drew. Higher wattage meant a brighter bulb. But with newer bulb technologies like LEDs, lumens give a better representation of brightness since LEDs can produce the same lumens with far fewer watts. The lumens to watts conversion depends on the bulb type. So, when designing your home lighting, focus first on the lumen levels needed for a comfortable ambience, then choose the most efficient bulbs that provide those lumens. Consider both metrics when shopping for the perfect light bulbs and fixtures to meet your lighting needs.

The difference between watts vs lumens is straightforward. Watts is a measure of energy. And lumen is a measure of brightness. So, understanding both units will ensure you get the right light bulbs and the right amount of light for your home or office.

Navigating Watts Vs Lumens

The confusing part is that, once upon a time, the most obvious way to choose a light bulb from the shelf was to look at the wattage – the higher the number, the brighter it would be. Now, the wattage itself may not be as apparent on the packaging because the amount of energy required can be much lower with modern energy-efficient technologies such as LED light bulbs, for instance. The wattage of one product is no longer a comparable guide to the actual performance of the bulb because the same wattage may produce a notably different brightness from one product to the next.

A lower wattage value can actually produce more brightness than another light technology with a higher wattage value. Generally, however, light technology manufacturers are trying to produce more lumens for less wattage, making the old statement about ‘popping out to buy any X-watt bulb’ increasingly irrelevant.


What Is The Difference?

  • What is a watt? Think of it like kilometres per hour, but instead of speed, it’s the rate at which energy flows in electrical systems.
  • What is a lumen? Think of it as a direct measure of brightness. That means that irrespective of the amount of energy (or watts), the lumens are a measure of the amount of visible light produced that is seeable by the human eye.

Want to skip over the lumens vs watt specifics and get on with picking a bulb? The guide below should be the short-cut you’re looking for:

1. What light type?

We talk more about lumens than watts these days when it comes to brightness because old, inefficient incandescent technology is increasingly being phased out and replaced with much more efficient types of light technologies. These include halogen, CFL (compact fluorescent lamps), LED and others.

2. What fitting?

Next, how will the bulb attach to the fitting when you change your light bulbs? The easiest way is to take the old bulb with you when picking the new one, but in most cases, it will just be a matter of choosing between bayonet or Edison (screw-in) in various sizes.

3. How about the brightness?

We’ve been talking all about watts vs lumen, meaning you now understand that higher watts (energy) don’t necessarily translate to more light (lumens). Luckily, reverting to lumens as a basic guide to brightness means that various lighting products and technologies can easily be compared.

4. What about the colour temperature?

However, something that has little to do with lumens vs. watts is the colour temperature – or, in other words, how ‘warm’ or ‘cool’ the light will be. A warmer colour temperature is like the light produced by one of those old incandescent bulbs, while cooler colours are harsher – like a fluorescent light.

Choosing The Right Light Bulb


Overview of different light technologies

When selecting light bulbs, you have several options based on the type of technology used to produce light. Traditional incandescent bulbs have been around for over a century and work by heating a filament to produce light. This makes them very inefficient, converting only about 10% of the energy used into light emitted. More modern options like CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) and LEDs (light emitting diodes) are much more energy efficient and long-lasting.

CFL bulbs use 25-35% less energy than incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs can use up to 90% less energy and last 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. Energy efficiency bulbs like CFLs and LEDs also produce less heat while providing the same brightness measured in lumens.

Factors to consider when selecting a bulb

When choosing light bulbs, consider factors like the desired brightness, usually measured in lumens. The lumen rating indicates how much light the bulb produces. Bulbs with higher lumens are brighter. Also, look at energy consumption – LED and CFL bulbs with the same brightness in lumens will use less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs.

You’ll also want to pick the right colour temperature, which impacts the ambience and feel of the light. Bulbs rated 2700K-3000K give warm, cosy light, while 4000K-6000K bulbs have a cooler, more energising effect. The bulb’s shape, base type and the light’s ability to dim are other factors that ensure it will work with your fixtures.

Matching the bulb’s fitting to the fixture

It’s important to choose a bulb that is compatible with the light fixture you want to use it in. Check the base type – most household bulbs are E26/E27 medium screw bases, but some fixtures require other types. The bulb shape should also match the fixture – A19/A21 for exposed bulbs, BR30 for recessed cans, etc. Read the packaging carefully to get the right base and shape. Checking the diameter is also important, as choosing a bulb that is too large or small can impact performance. With the right bulb for the light fixture, you’ll get optimal light quality and longevity.

Watts VS Lumens – Want to know more?

Have we managed to throw a little light on the lumens vs watts discussion? Don’t forget, Your Electrical Expert can send one of the very best local electricians out to your place to discuss your lighting solution needs and provide same-day `1 electrical services in most cases. So, if you have a question or need some fast & affordable support, get in touch today.