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What are Lumens verses Watts when looking at LED Lights in Comparison to Incandescent Halogen Lights 

When you’re looking for LED lights, 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 LED Lamps or Fixtures, think lumens, not watts.

The brightness, or lumen levels, of the lights you need 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.

Additional Lighting Information:

– Lumens – The unit of measurement of the flow of light, or ‘luminous flux’. With light bulbs, it provides an estimate of the amount of light the bulb will produce.

Equivalent wattages and light output of Incandescent, CFL and LED bulbs:

Light Output LEDs CFLs Incandescent
Lumens Watts Watts Watts
450 4 – 5 8 – 12 40
750 – 900 6 – 8 13 – 18 60
1100 – 1300 9 – 13 18 – 22 75 – 100
1600 – 1800 16 – 20 23 – 30 100
2600 – 2800 25 – 28 30 – 55 150


Comparing the features of Incandescent, CFL and LED bulbs:

Operational Features LEDs CFLs Incandescent
Frequent On/Off Cycling no effect shortens lifespan some effect
Turns on instantly yes slight delay yes
Durability durable fragile fragile
Heat Emitted low (3 btu’s/hr) medium (15 btu’s/hr) high (85 btu’s/hr)
Sensitivity to high temperature some yes no
Sensitivity to low temperature no yes no
Sensitivity to humidity no yes some
Hazardous Materials none 5 mg mercury/bulb none
Replacement frequency
(over 50k hours)
1 5 40+
IR/UV Radiation Emitted no yes yes
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What Do IP Ratings Reference when speaking about Lighting?

IP ratings are generally better the higher the number – IP is actually treated as 2 digits, the first digit specifying the protection against solid objects such as fingers, wire and tools; the second digit is protection against liquids from splash or spray.

The two-digit IP rating system was established by the International Electrotechnical Commission and is used to identify the level of protection against the ingress (entry) of foreign objects into the light enclosure.
As referenced in IEC/EN 60 529 standards – a product’s ingress protection is indicated by the two code letters IP followed by two numerals, each number then representing different forms of environmental influence. The larger the value of each digit equals the greater the level of protection.


First digit:
Ingress of solid objects
Second digit:
Ingress of liquids
0 No protection No protection
1 Protected against solid objects over 50mm e.g. hands, large tools. Protected against vertically falling drops of water or condensation.
2 Protected against solid objects over 12.5mm e.g. hands, large tools. Protected against falling drops of water, if the case is disposed up to 15 from vertical.
3 Protected against solid objects over 2.5mm e.g. wire, small tools. Protected against sprays of water from any direction, even if the case is disposed up to 60 from vertical.
4 Protected against solid objects over 1.0mm e.g. wires. Protected against splash water from any direction.
5 Limited protection against dust ingress. (no harmful deposit) Protected against low pressure water jets from any direction. Limited ingress permitted.
6 Totally protected against dust ingress. Protected against high pressure water jets from any direction. Limited ingress permitted.
7 N/A Protected against short periods of immersion in water.
8 N/A Protected against long, durable periods of immersion in water.

For Example: IP65 rated LED flood light
The two digits represent different forms of environmental influence:

  • The first digit (6) indicates protection against the ingress of dust and all other solid objects.
  • The second digit (5) indicates protection against low pressure jets of water from any direction.