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Think Lumens, Not Watts: Buying Light bulbs in the 21st Century

When you're shopping for LED light bulbs, 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 bulbs, think lumens, not watts.

The brightness, or lumen levels, of the lights in your home 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

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