watts and lumens

Watts Versus Lumens

We often get asked the difference between watts versus lumens. There have been some major changes in lighting in recent years due to the introduction of energy-efficient CFL and LED bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are becoming a thing of the past, as both their energy-hogging habits and their “wattage” rating become obsolete. In place of them are high-efficiency bulbs with a much more accurate “lumens” rating. This blog will help you understand the differences and navigate the changes.


A watt is a unit of power, measuring the amount of energy that is used over a period of time. When talking about bulbs, a watt measures how much electricity the bulb requires per second. This is not an indicator of how bright the bulb is, but the old-school incandescent bulbs are so similar that when we bought a 100-watt incandescent light bulb, we had a general idea of how bright it would be.

With newer types of bulbs, it takes far fewer watts to create just as much light, so wattage ratings are no longer very useful. Each type of bulb is different, and the whole idea is to develop bulbs that use fewer watts to make more light.


Lumens determine how much light a bulb will provide. A lumen is the direct measurement of light output. The number of lumens can tell you the degree of brightness, regardless of whether it is emitted from an incandescent, halogen, or energy-efficient LED bulb.

One lumen is approximately equal to the amount of light put out by one birthday candle. To help you get an idea of the lumen scale, a standard 60-watt bulb puts out around 750-850 lumens of light. If you’re choosing bulbs for task lighting, look for bulbs with 1000 lumens or more. Under the new system, when shopping for a light bulb, you should first look for the bulbs that produce the number of lumens you need. Once you know the right brightness, you can then look at the lumens-per-watt rating to find the bulb that’s the most energy efficient. Note: lumens-per-watt rating is an average since light bulbs become less efficient over time.

Selecting The Brightness Of LED Lights

Until you’re more comfortable using lumens to gauge how much light a bulb will produce, use these guide:

40W = 450 lumens

60W = 800 lumens

75W = 1100 lumens

100W = 1600 lumens

150W = 2600 lumens

High West Electric is based in Denver, CO, and serves the entire metro area. Our customer service-based approach ensures that each client enjoys the process from installation to the end product – no matter the size of the job. Our goal is to be YOUR electrician and offer an experience that goes Beyond the Wires. We offer free estimates. Visit our website to learn more.