Lumens: How Bright Are Your Bulbs?

How many light bulbs do you have in your house? Do you know how bright they are? Lumens have been defined (Wikipedia) as”a measure of the total “amount” of visible light emitted by a source.” In other words, a lumen is how bright a bulb is. They can range in their brightness. The color of your light bulbs can affect the brightness too. Most people are used to incandescent bulbs so they try to match that color in CFL or compact fluorescent lighting bulbs.

Lumens have been around for over 5 year now. The brightness of a light used to be according to the wattage. But now, we use the term lumens to determine how bright a light can be. Other than incandescent, wattage doesn’t mean anything to CFL or fluorescent. You can get the same amount of lumens and half the amount of wattage. I know because I tested that. It was half the amount of wattage, actually a little less than half. So, I am really disappointed with the CFL. I will probably in the future test the LED to make sure their output and the amount of power they use is a lot less or the same then what is said on the packaging. What they advertise and what is really true are two different things.

But you need to hear the truth. The truth is that CFL are not as efficient as they say on their packaging. I compared lumens to wattage myself. According to the CFL packaging, that particular bulb puts out the same lumens at 14 watts as it does at 60 watts. But I know that is not true.

Things have changed. If you had a bulb that is 60 watts, you knew how bright that 60 watt was. A standard for the industry many years ago was the   socket  inside the fixture itself was rated for more than 60 watts. They were rated for 100 watts. These days, most  sockets  within a fixture are rated for a 60 watt bulb and no more. The heat difference has changed. The  sockets  are not made as well with aluminum shells inside the  socket  instead of copper shells which makes the bulbs harder to screw in place. Aluminum (bulb) screwed into aluminum (fixture) does not screw well.

So when you buy a bulb, you need to look at the lumens or the amount of output and not at the wattage. They’ll say that their bulb is equal comparison to 60 watts. They might tell you that a particular bulb puts out 800 lumens for 14 watts comparably to a 60 watt light bulb. They (sometimes) give you a comparison chart on the packaging.

The manufacturers are doing away with light bulbs advertised as wattage. In the future, you will be looking at lumens when you go to purchase a bulb. So you’ll need to understand this. It’s reminds me of trying to change to the metric system. The industry won’t let you call it a light bulb anymore: they call them lamps. They are called lamps because it is filled with gas. It is not a light bulb anymore. You won’t walk into a home improvement center and ask for a 60 watt light bulb. You’ll ask for a lamp with 800 lumens.