Lumen Brightness Scale

by Liz Gonzales

In the bright and shiny world of light bulbs, the word lumen holds a rather special place as it can be used to determine the degree of luminosity of various bulbs.

In other words, lumens are the internationally recognized unit measuring brightness, so the more lumens a light bulb emits, the brighter it shines.

Now, the deal with light bulbs and determining how strong they are so far has been quite straightforward – you use Watts as a measuring unit and the more Watts a light bulb requires, the more powerful it will be.

In recent years, however, several new breeds of light bulb have emerged and thanks to the different technologies they’re made in, as well as thanks to different materials used in their fabrication, so Watts isn’t as relevant now as a measuring unit as they used to be.

Instead of Watts, a combination of measurements is used to determine how bright and how energy-efficient a light bulb is. The most prominent units for this purpose would be lumens and, well, still Watts. But the point is that – these are no longer enough on their own.

In this article, we’re going to talk about the lumen brightness scale, an easy way to figure out exactly how much brightness you get out of any given light bulb. As you will see, lumens are used because, thanks to the development of new technologies, light bulb models with low wattage can shine brighter than the old models with high wattage.

Right then folks, without further ado, here’s the deal.

What is a Lumen?

Lumen Brightness Scale
Lumen Brightness Scale

As we already mentioned, a lumen is a unit in the International System of Units used to represent the brightness of light bulbs. (and other sources of light)

The reason why lumens have become so popular as a measuring unit all of a sudden would be because they can describe the output of any given light bulb when it comes to its brightness value. When you compare this value with the overall wattage of the thing that’s being used, you can establish the energy efficiency rate of the thing, and from that its overall value.

For example, a well-made LED light bulb will use only 22 Watts for giving out the same amount of light as an old-school incandescent bulb that requires a 100 Watts to function. So, it can be said that LED’s are about 5 times more energy-efficient than the incandescent ones. (Of course, they also tend to be more expensive.)

How Lumens Relate to Watts?

How Lumens Relate to Watts?
How Lumens Relate to Watts?

As we’ve already mentioned, the main difference between lumens and watts would be that one unit serves to measure the intensity of brightness, while the other one serves to measure the intensity of power.

The thing is, since up until the last couple of decades virtually all light bulbs whereof the incandescent kind, not many people would bother asking for how much lumens they will give out. Instead, asking for the Wattage of that light bulb would suffice in figuring out just how much brightness you could get when you install it.

Now, since there are many light bulb sorts and designs in operation nowadays, Lumen as a unit of measurement is becoming more and more important. This is how Lumens and Watts correlate with each other (we’ve thrown in the most common LED light bulbs here, too, for comparison’s sake):

Lumen Brightness Scale Chart

Old Incandescent Light Bulbs Equivalent in Lumens LED Light Bulbs
100 W 1600 ~ 22 W
75 W 1100 ~ 20 W
60 W 800 ~ 12 W
40 W 450 ~ 9 W


As you can see, newer LED bulbs are way more energy-efficient than the old incandescent type, so if you’re looking to save energy getting yourself a couple of these more expensive but also more durable and energy-efficient light bulbs can be just the thing for you.

How to Read a Light Bulb Label?

Light bulbs have several different properties that should be taken into consideration before you decide to purchase a model. Luckily for the folks who aren’t that experienced with light bulbs, the most important pieces of information are usually printed on the label, so probably won’t miss it.

So, the first thing to pay attention to would be the brightness of a light bulb, usually expressed in lumens. Next, you should look into the estimated energy cost per annum, and then also the lifetime of the bulb. These last two values are estimated based on an assumption that you use the bulb three hours a day, so if this value goes up or down, you can do your maths.

After these two, there is also the matter of whether or not it contains mercury, as well as how much energy it uses up. Last but not least, in case the light bulb in question contains any potentially dangerous ingredients such as mercury, you can rest assured the manufacturers will tell you about it on the label.

How to Choose Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs?

Look for Lumens

When buying a light bulb, the first thing you’ll want to know about is if it is capable of shining as brightly as you need it for the room you plan to place it in. To check this value, you need to look for either Watts or Lumens. Now, since you probably won’t be looking to buy incandescent light bulbs (if you are, then just look at the Watts, and you’ll know how powerful your model is), you should be looking at Lumens to see how potentially efficient your light bulb will be.

The thing is, light bulbs nowadays come in all shapes and sizes, from incandescent ones to LED and halogen models, so you should look for the lumens value first and foremost when figuring out how much brightness these have.

The Color Temperature

The light temperature is a value measured in Kelvins, so you should be looking at numbers with a K next to them. Usually, the label will have the color temperature category written on the label, so you will be able to find these fairly easily. Often, manufacturers of these light bulbs also include a scale of color temperature, so you know where the color you’re looking at stands.

Warmer colors tend to be on the lower end of the scale, ranging from 2,700 – 3,000 Kelvins. Lighter colors such as white light and some others are usually on the higher end of the scale reaching up to 4,000 to 5,000 Kelvins.

Energy Star Label

If energy-efficiency is your number one concern when buying light bulbs, then you should always look for the special Energy Star label, because this one means that the light bulb in question will spend considerably less energy than if you were to buy one of the models without such a label.

All things considered, understanding how the lumens brightness scale works are essential in figuring out if a light bulb would be a good option for you or now. As long as you take your time to read the labels thoroughly and are aware of the price differences between various models, you can rest assured that you’ll make a good purchase for your home that you will get light bulbs that will last you a long time, indeed.

About Liz Gonzales

Liz lives in a suburb in New York city.
Both of her parents are the art professors at Sate University of New York.
As such, Liz grew up with all kinds of art objects, portraits, and books laying around the home.
Liz met up with Linea through another friend in some kind of online art forum. There great minds sparkled to take their passions onto the next level @

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