Have you gone shopping for new light bulbs and been confused by all the terms? Lamps. Bulbs. Watts. Lumens. Brightness. Well, you aren’t alone. The lighting industry has gotten more complicated with the advent of LED. While LED are great at saving electricity, you’ll want to know that you are getting the right amount of light for your space. Knowing the right terminology will help you get the right light for you.
Lamps vs. Bulbs
While most people think of the screw-in lighting used in their homes as “bulbs”, the proper industry term is actually “lamp”. And while a “lamp” is usually considered a portable fixture with a cord and plug – it’s technical term is “portable luminaire”. You really can’t go wrong though as it is acceptable to call a lamp, a bulb. Us in the lighting industry will know what you mean.
Watts vs. Lumens
A watt (w) is the unity of electrical energy that indicates the power consumption of a lamp. The fewer watts consumed, the less money you’ll spend on energy. Wattage, however, does NOT equal light output. Over the years the use of incandescent bulbs has conditioned many consumers to believe that light output is equivalent to wattage: for example, a 60w incandescent bulb needs to be replaced by another 60w bulb.
Lumens (lm) measures light output. It’s the quantity of light that a bulb emits. One a bulb label, lumens tells you if the selected bulb has enough light output for the intended use. The higher the lumen value, the more light a bulb emits.
Historically, the most popular household consumer bulb in the USA was 60 watt. These bulbs typically emitted 800 lumens of light. Thus, most consumers are accustomed to using bulbs in their home with emit 800 lumens of light.
LED lamps (Light Emitting Diode) are more efficient in converting more of the power to visible lumens. Therefore, these lamps can product the same 800 lumen of light from lower wattages. LEDs can provide 800 lumens with only 8 to 10 watts of power.
Lighting manufacturers are required to list lumen values prominently on the light bulb packaging and are described on these labels as “Brightness” to help consumers understand the term.Keep in mind that LEDs naturally seem brighter so you may not want to go with an 800 lumen lamp for every fixture – especially if you have more than one bulb on the fixture. If you find yourself in need of advice, certainly visit your local lighting store.