LED Lighting: Lumens Not Watt

By will_owen on 01/03/2018

lumens not watts

The main purpose of technology is to make our way of life a little bit easier and retain information. With the ability to hold mountains of knowledge and make tasks like shopping, contacting a friend, or getting directions simply by pressing a few buttons, we are constantly enjoying the beneifts of living in the technological age.  Ultimately reducing our workload makes it alot less likely to end up with a migraine. 
But who ever said technology was perfect?  Well, you will because no matter what you will always hit a few bumps on the road toward progress.
Your dad, for example, could be asking you to help him with his new device even though you have never handled one or heard of it before. 
It could be that this miscommunication, between your dad and the device happened because he didn’t grow up with the technology that we are enjoying.  But, in my opinion, I think that all the new terminology that comes with improved technology may have had an adverse effect with users and any pre-conceptions he has. The same thing can be said about the lighting industry. Ever since the LED breakthrough, new terms like lumens, have been popping up. 
But what are lumens and why should they be taken into consideration when purchasing a light bulb?

confused about watts and lumens

What are Lumens used for?

Lumens are used to measure the brightness of a bulb.  Now you may be thinking, “No way, the units used to measure a bulb’s brightness are wattages.”  In the past you would have been partially right and when you went to a hardware store to replace a bulb you would check to make sure that the wattages were the same, so you would have the same brightness with your new bulb as the one your are replacing. 
However, wattages have always referred to how much energy the bulb uses.  With the production of LEDs, we use significantly less energy.  Wattages just weren’t able to keep up.  Read more about Lightbulb Wattage Conversions here.
On top of that, and I’m regressing to my 8 year old self, lumens were here first. They have always been used to measure brightness, generally in physics.  But like all bulbs, the lumen output can vary depending on the following:

What can affect lumens

frosted and clear bulb

(Example of a frosted (right) and non-frosted (left) bulb)

How Can I Determine a Bulb's Lumen Output?

In 2011 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) began requiring that a light bulb's lumen output be stated on the priduct packaging.  So, if you are wanting to identify how many lumens a bulb has, just look on the back of the box. 

a bulbs lighting facts

What are the Different Types of Lighting?

Quick recap, lumens are the measurement of how bright a bulb is.  So the higher the number of lumens the brighter the lamp will be and vice-versa. Knowing the brightness of a bulb can help you create the type of ambience that is perfect for your setting.  8 Commercial Energy-Efficient Solutions for a Better Return on Your Investment  
Three Types of Lighting:
General Comfort Lighting – are most commonly found in grocery and retail stores  This type of lighting brightens up the area to make customers feel safe.task oriented lighting

Task-Oriented Lighting – can be used in warehouses to help illuminate merchandise, work areas, or store entrances.

task oriented lighting

















Accent Lighting – which isgreat for display cases, above windows, and can help showcase specific areas of a store.  comfort lighting

What is the Right Amount of Lumens?

Before you install any type of lighting you want to make sure that you know what type of beam angle you want and how many lumens are needed. This is going to vary depending on how much square footage you need to cover and how tall the ceiling is. 

After all, you wouldn’t use the same lighting for a 15 foot ceiling as you would with a 35 foot ceiling.  Just because one light bulb operates with less watts doesn’t mean that the brightness will be the same or less. A 100 watt incandescent and a 20 watt LED, for example, are going to have the same amount of lumens.  Click here to read more about Commercial Lighting Application
Here are some basic guidelines:
30-45 foot ceilings need 240 watts  or 32,194 lumens
20-35 foot ceilings need 150 watts or 20,441 lumens
15-25 foot ceilings need 100 watts or 13,627 lumens
(Note: 240 watts is the total wattage of all light bulbs used in a particular space)
The measurements listed above are perfect for big commercial buildings including:

commercial applications

What to take away from this blog?
Lumens and watts are not the same thing. Lumens measure brightness, while watts measure how much energy the light fixture consumes. So, remember that instead of looking for wattages when you go to the electric supply store you want to be looking for lumens. when it comes to brightness. 
It is also important to remember, that before any light installation you should take into consideration the beam angle and the amount of lumens for the project. But again, this can vary depending on how high the ceiling of the designated building is. 

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