What are Lumens verses Watts when looking at LED Lights in Comparison to Incandescent Halogen Lights 

When you’re looking for LED lights, compare lumens to be sure you’re getting the amount of light, or level of brightness, you want.

Think Lumens, Not Watts

We typically buy things based on how much of it we get, right? When buying milk, we buy it by volume (gallons). So, why should light be any different? For decades, we have been buying light bulbs based on how much energy they consume (Watts) — no matter how much light they give us (Lumens).

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.

Lumens are to light what:

  • Pounds are to bananas
  • Gallons are to milk

Lumens let you buy the amount of light you want. So, when buying your new LED Lamps or Fixtures, think lumens, not watts.

The brightness, or lumen levels, of the lights you need may vary widely, so here’s a rule of thumb:

  • To replace a 100-watt incandescent bulb, look for a bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens. If you want something dimmer, go for less lumens; if you prefer brighter light, look for more lumens.
  • Replace a 75W bulb with an LED bulb that gives you about 1100 lumens.
  • Replace a 60W bulb with an LED bulb that gives you about 800 lumens.
  • Replace a 40W bulb with an LED bulb that gives you about 450 lumens.

Additional Lighting Information:

– Lumens – The unit of measurement of the flow of light, or ‘luminous flux’. With light bulbs, it provides an estimate of the amount of light the bulb will produce.

Equivalent wattages and light output of Incandescent, CFL and LED bulbs:

Light Output LEDs CFLs Incandescent
Lumens Watts Watts Watts
450 4 – 5 8 – 12 40
750 – 900 6 – 8 13 – 18 60
1100 – 1300 9 – 13 18 – 22 75 – 100
1600 – 1800 16 – 20 23 – 30 100
2600 – 2800 25 – 28 30 – 55 150

Comparing the features of Incandescent, CFL and LED bulbs:

Operational Features LEDs CFLs Incandescent
Frequent On/Off Cycling no effect shortens lifespan some effect
Turns on instantly yes slight delay yes
Durability durable fragile fragile
Heat Emitted low (3 btu’s/hr) medium (15 btu’s/hr) high (85 btu’s/hr)
Sensitivity to high temperature some yes no
Sensitivity to low temperature no yes no
Sensitivity to humidity no yes some
Hazardous Materials none 5 mg mercury/bulb none
Replacement frequency
(over 50k hours)
1 5 40+
IR/UV Radiation Emitted no yes yes