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Brightness, Lumens and Watts

What is the difference between a Watt and a Lumen?

A Watt is a measure of power, which is the rate at which energy is consumed. A Lumen is a measure of brightness, which is the amount of visible light that an object produces.

We all used to measure the brightness of globes in Watts - what happened?

When all we had were traditional incandescent globes, then it was easy - the more Watts a light consumed the brighter it was. So everyone started thinking that a 40W globe was dim, whereas a 100W globe was bright. This however is not only a completely inaccurate way of measuring brightness - it no longer applies because we have new types of globes such as LED globes, CFLs and halogens which consume vastly different Wattages (for the same brightness) than traditional incandescent globes.

So you are telling me that I can no longer use Watts to measure brightness?

Correct. To measure brightness you have to get with it and use Lumens.

OK, got it. But what if I can't wrap my head around Lumens?

We are here to help - because the sad truth is that everyone over 15 still thinks of brightness in the old Wattage scale of traditional incandescent globes. So we have provided the following fantastic little table that converts Watts to Lumens and compares traditional incandescent globes to LED globes, halogen globes and CFL globes.

Brightness, lumens and watts