Consumer Technology

Published on April 4th, 2012 | by Scott Raybin


Buying Bulbs Based on Lumens

April 4th, 2012 by  

Since the first screw base and socket bulbs were made in 1882, lamps have been purchased based on wattage used.  Fast-forward 130 years and there is a new metric for light bulbs — “lumens.” Lumens are a measurement of the amount of light produced. This makes a lot of sense since we buy things based on how much of it we get. When buying milk, we buy it by the volume (gallons). So, why should light be any different?

In addition to the new labels telling us how bright light bulbs are, there is some other important information, such as:

  • Estimated yearly energy cost
  • Lifespan of the bulb
  • Light appearance (warm to cool)
  • Energy used

So, the next challenge is to learn what lumens to use around the house. Here is 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 fewer lumens; if you prefer brighter light, look for more lumens.
  • Replace a 75W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 1100 lumens.
  • Replace a 60W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 800 lumens.
  • Replace a 40W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 450 lumens.

To find out more information about how the right lighting choices can save you money via the US Department of Energy (DOE).

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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  • Buy light bulbs by lumens is the best way but it will take a generation before we’re use to buying this way

    • Bob_Wallace

      It does not have to be that way.

      Sell bulbs at first as “100 watt eq. – 1,600 lumens)

      After a year or so, sell bulbs as 1,600 lumen – 100 watt eq. with the “100 …”  in smaller script.

      People will catch on.

      What also could be helpful is to sell as 16 hundred lumen.  People would find it easier to shop for a 3, 8, 16 than for a 3,000, …. 

      Oh, and why don’t you buy some ad space and support the site rather than trying to sneak some for free?

  • SirSparks

    An old style filament light bulb keeps the same intensity (lumens) from day one until it’s failure. Led and fluorescent drop off fairly quickly so buy MORE lumens than you need. I would suggest 20% more.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “All electric light sources experience a decrease in the amount of light they emit over time, a process known as lumen depreciation. Incandescent filaments evaporate over time and the tungsten particles collect on the bulb wall. This typically results in 10-15% depreciation compared to initial lumen output over the 1,000 hour life of an incandescent lamp.”

  • If you go down to 5000k it will still be bright but less of the bluish hue. Then next step down is 4100k and that will provide a warmer color

  • MySchizoBuddy

    lot of cheap LEDs have a blue tint and it gives me headache. What color temperature in the white range would not have the blue tint.

    • zieroh

      If you want something that approximates traditional incandescent lights, look for something in the 2700k range. I dislike anything above 3500k or so.

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