Have you ever walked into a room that seemed dark even if you can see that the light bulbs are switched on? That can be uncomfortable especially if you need a well-lit room to work on a document or sign a check, or just to see clearly. What could be the problem here?

It could clearly be the lumens.

Lumens measure how much light you get from a LED light bulb. In other words, lumens tell you the brightness of a bulb.

Unlike years ago, when you used to buy incandescent bulbs according to their wattage, today, you will need to think lumens – not watts – when buying light bulbs.

What’s the difference?

To understand the difference between lumens and watts, it’s important to understand what’s a watt and what are lumens.

What’s a watt?

A watt is an electrical unit that indicates the rate at which energy or electricity is consumed.

Before LED lights came into the market, people used to buy incandescent bulbs according to their wattage, or according to how much electricity a particularly light bulb consumes.

This means that if an incandescent bulb is indicated as 100 watts, then it consumes 100 watts of electricity for every hour it is lit.

This explains why monthly electric bills reflect charges per kilowatt-hour.

With watts, the tendency for consumers is to choose a bulb according to how much they are willing to shell out when the electric bill comes. That’s why in the past, it’s common for some homes to still lack illumination even if the light bulbs are on – the preference for buying light bulbs is most of the time based on how much a family can afford to pay for the electricity consumption of each light bulb and not whether a light bulb can efficiently light an interior space.

What are lumens?

As mentioned above, lumens let you know how much light you are getting from a bulb. The higher the lumens, the brighter the bulb. The lower the lumens, the dimmer the bulb.

Why does it make more sense to think lumens, not watts, when buying a light bulb? Because it’s the amount of light or brightness that you want to buy.

LED light bulbs made it possible for consumers to make a mindset switch – from merely limiting their choices to the wattage of a light bulb, consumers can now choose the brightness of the bulb without much worry as to how much electricity it consumes to achieve such brightness.

That’s the beauty of LED technology – LED light bulbs are energy efficient. A bright LED light bulb does not necessarily consume massive amounts of electricity.

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How much lumens do you need to light your home or office?

The Energy Star, a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voluntary program that helps business and individual consumers choose energy efficient products to save money and protect the planet from global warming, has published loads of information on LED lighting.

One valuable information is to know the equivalent of an incandescent bulb to a LED bulb. This way, you would know how much lumens is needed to illuminate your home or office.

The table below gives you an idea (source: Energy Star):

Based on the table above, a 40 watt LED light bulb yields 450 lumens, which can already be blinding. Normally, a 1-watt LED bulb produces 70-100 lumens, which is enough to light a small room. This is how energy-saving a LED bulb could be.

The colour of LED bulbs may also affect the bulb’s luminance. “Soft white,” “warm white,” “daylight” and “cool white” are just some of the common terms used to describe LED light colours.

If you decide for a warm white, then expect that it has lesser luminance compared to the daylight. People choose the warm white to achieve the same warm glow from an incandescent bulb, but certainly, without having to use high wattage.

Other considerations may also include the amount of natural light coming into the interior space which may aid the lighting that comes from LED light bulbs.

So how much lumens do you need to illuminate your home or office? The choice is yours. It’s safe to start with a 3 to 5 watt LED bulb (for a small room) then you can adjust as you go along. The important thing to remember is that with LED light bulbs, you can achieve the luminance you desire without having to worry as much about electricity consumption.

Let’s see some pendant lamp effects using all LED bulbs!