Wattage vs Lumens: Knowing the Difference for Your LED Light Replacement

May 20, 2020

Did you know that lighting in homes consumes between 8-15% of the average household electricity budget? Using energy-efficient and well-designed lighting can significantly help to reduce your energy and help you save money. 

With a range of lighting options and terminology, it can be difficult to understand which light is right for your home or business. Keep reading to learn more about the difference between watts and lumens, so you can make the right LED light replacement decision. 

Lumens vs Watts: What Is the Difference?

Many people are often confused by the difference between lumens and watts. This can make choosing the right lighting for your home difficult. 

It’s important to remember that more watts don’t always make a brighter bulb. To find the right brightness for your home or business, you should instead look at the number of lumens of the bulb. 

Previously, people would choose a bulb with the most watts if they wanted a brighter bulb. However, light bulbs are now more energy-efficient. Energy-efficient bulbs mean they use fewer watts (but still produce the same amount of light, due to the lumens).  

What is Wattage?

When we used to buy incandescent bulbs, we did so based on wattage. If you wanted a brighter bulb, you would choose one with more watts.  

But watts are not the measure of brightness. Watts are the measure of energy consumption. This means how much electricity the bulb consumes to produce the light.  

Bulbs with higher wattage use more power and thus cost more money to use. However, nowadays, there are a range of energy-efficient downlights that can produce the same amount of brightness (lumens) without using as many watts (energy consumed). 

For example, a 40-watt incandescent bulb produces between 380 to 460 lumens and uses 40 watts of energy per hour. Nowadays, you can replace a 40-watt incandescent bulb with a 5 watt LED downlight, which will still produce the same amount of brightness. A simple LED lighting upgrade will ensure your home is lit up with the same amount of brightness as before, or brighter, but for less of the cost. 

Although watts are no longer used for comparing brightness, they are still important when you’re considering how efficient a light is. 

For example, if you are looking at lights with the same amount of lumens (brightness) but they have different wattages then the one with the lowest wattage will be more energy efficient. The higher the lumen per watt (lm/W) the more efficient a light is (and the more money you’ll save).  

What is Lumens?

Lumens are the brightness a light gives off. More lumens mean a brighter light, fewer lumens mean a dimmer light.  

When you want to buy a light based on its brightness, you should always think about the number of lumens, instead of the watts. For example, a 5 watt LED downlight replacement is brighter than a 50-watt halogen light, because of the number of lumens. A 5-watt LED produces around 450-500 lumens. 

If you have a standard 150-watt bulb in your living room that is giving out 2600 lumens, you swap it with a 25 watt LED upgrade. The power used by the new 25-watt LED light will be significantly reduced, but the light will still produce the same amount of light. 

LED lighting technology can reduce energy consumption by up to 93% compared to incandescent or halogen lighting. This is because LED lights have a longer lifespan and use less power. LED lighting is not only more energy-efficient, but it’s also cheaper to run.  

Comparing and Converting Lumens to Watts

The best way to compare lights is by looking at the packaging. Look at the number of lumens produced and the wattage. 

If you’re looking for a light fitting that will produce the same amount of brightness as you currently have, then make sure you choose a light with the same amount of lumens. Then remember to check the wattage to compare how much energy it consumes.  

Use these conversions to work out which bulb is right for you: 

Traditional Incandescent to LED

A traditional incandescent 25-watt bulb will produce around 250 lumens. Whereas a LED bulb that produces 250 lumens will have between 3 and 4 watts. A traditional incandescent 50-watt bulb producing 500 lumens is the same as a LED bulb 5-8 watt bulb that produces 500 lumens. 

Halogen to LED

Although halogen bulbs are more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, you still might want to think about getting your halogen lights replaced to reduce energy consumption and save you money. For example, changing 20 halogen downlights to LED downlights can save you up to $210 per annum off your energy bill. 

A halogen 42-watt bulb that produces 800 lumens can be replaced with an 8-12 watt LED bulb. If you’re looking for the same brightness you get from an 1100 lumen halogen bulb (with a wattage of 52) then you can replace it with an 1100 lumens LED bulb (with a wattage of between 11-17).  

Making little changes such as opting for a LED lights instead of a traditional incandescent or a halogen lights, can make a big difference. Not only will your home or business become more energy-efficient, but you’ll also notice large energy savings too. 

Save Money and Energy With a LED Light Replacement

Now that you understand what a watt is and what a lumen is, you should be able to find the right LED light replacement. Remember that wattage is all about energy consumption, as opposed to brightness. If you want a bright light, you need to find one with higher lumens.  

Get in touch with our friendly team now to discuss your LED needs or to see if your home and/or business is eligible for a subsidised LED lighting upgrade. 


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