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When adding light fixtures or replacing old light bulbs with LED lights, the first thing you’ll notice is that LEDs are not rated by watts the same way incandescent lights are. That’s because LED bulb wattage is much lower to produce the same amount of light (and thus why LED lights are so efficient). If you’re retiring your CFL lights, the bulb wattage for LED will be similar but even lower.

Bulb Wattage and LED Lumens

Bulb Wattage

We highly recommend that you become fluent in LED lumens, which measure the brightness of the light. Products are marked with their bulb wattage equivalents, but these vary from brand to brand and bulb to bulb. 

As technology evolves, the wattages will continue to vary even more. If you get a handle on the best LED lumen rating for each room, you’ll be comfortable choosing new lights regardless of bulb wattage.

Here’s a rough guide for converting incandescent or CFL bulb wattage to LED:

  • 6W LED (450 lumens) replaces a 40W bulb or 9W CFL
  • 9W LED (800 lumens) replaces a 60W bulb or 14W CFL
  • 13W LED (1100 lumens) replaces a 75W bulb or 19W CFL
  • 17W LED (1600 lumens) replaces a 100W bulb or 23W CFL
  • 24W LED (2600 lumens) replaces a 150W bulb or 40W CFL
  • 45W LED (5800 lumens) replaces a 300W bulb or 85W CFL

Note that specific lights will vary by brand. For example, one maker might offer a 9W, 750-lumen LED instead of the common 800 lumens.

Go Brighter Thanks to Low LED Bulb Wattage

Take the opportunity to re-evaluate your lighting when switching to LED. Thanks to the lower bulb wattage, you can often put whatever brightness level you want in any fixture. 

A lamp or overhead light will have a maximum rating of 60, 75, 150 watts, or some other number that corresponds to traditional light bulbs. LEDs use a small fraction as many watts, so if you’d prefer, you can put in an LED that’s much brighter than the fixture used to have. 

Tired of a 60-watt lamp that looks dim in a large room? A 100-watt-equivalent LED light only uses about 17 watts, so the lamp can accept it!

What LED Color Temperature Means

You know how light waves have different temperatures—like how a yellow flame is “colder” than a blue flame? That’s what LED color ratings mean. The lumens correspond to the bulb wattage, but the color temperature relates to how white or yellow the light looks.

Most bulbs are marked as “soft white” for a warmer yellow hue, “bright white” for a medium hue, or “daylight” for the brightest white.

Personal taste will be the deciding factor, but here’s what most people like:

  • Kitchen: Bright white
  • Living rooms: Soft white
  • Bedroom overhead light: Daylight white
  • Bathrooms: Personal choice
  • Bathroom vanity: Bright white
  • Office: Bright white

In general, lean warmer for ambient lighting and brighter for task lighting.

Want to Add More Lighting? Talk to Your Electrician!

Take advantage of the low bulb wattage and energy efficiency of LED by adding more and better lighting to your home and office. It’s not too difficult for a licensed electrician to add recessed overhead lighting that functions better than your ceiling fan light. Task lighting like under-cabinet kitchen lights is another popular project.

For help with upgrading to LED lights and understanding the right bulb wattage for every room and application, contact us at Spyrka Electric to discuss lighting installation in Santa Rosa, CA.

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