Brightness and lumen levels: achieving the right brightness in your home

Most people are aware that the old type of light bulb, known as the incandescent light bulb, has been phased out of circulation and replaced with energy saving options. This is because the incandescent bulb used a lot of energy and was considered to be out of date and too costly to run.

Incandescent bulbs have been replaced by newer, and for the most part, more energy conscious and cost effective options. One major difference that came with the new choices of light bulbs was that the old way of measuring the strength of your lighting had to be changed to accommodate the new types of bulbs.

Changing A Light Bulb

The old way of measuring the light generated by your light bulb used wattage as a guide, these days this is no longer a suitable option. This is because wattage is a measurement of power used and although this was a useful guide when using incandescent bulbs it has nothing really to do with brightness levels. When you consider that an old incandescent bulb of 40 watts is equivalent to a modern LED (light emitting diode) bulb using only 6watts of power then you can see why the difficulty arose.

As the light bulb became more energy efficient then the wattage to power measurement became more and more useless. It became necessary to use a different measurement for the power or rather brightness output and therefore brightness in light effects of the light bulb. These days the lumen is used as the power rating for all light bulbs, but it is not a new concept and has been used for decades to measure light output from anything, not just light bulbs.

Funky Retro Light Bulbs

Just for comparison let’s look at some every day lumen measurements. An old incandescent 40watt light bulb would give around 450 lumen, a 5watt LED light bulb would give about the same and the sun on a bright day would give about 100,000 lumen. When you consider that an old style light bulb would give about 15 lumen per watt used but today a standard LED light can give more than 100 lumen per watt, then you can see why it makes good sense both from an energy point of view and also from a cost point of view to use the new light bulbs wherever possible.

So, now we know how to measure our brightness needs but before we rush out and purchase our new light bulbs we need also to look at the type of light given off by these new style light bulbs. Lumen will give an indication of the brightness of your light but you must also consider the quality of the light. Some LED’s can give only a rather bright directional type of light better suited to down-lighters or under counter lights, whilst halogen lights and CFL (compact fluorescent lights) can give a softer light more like the old incandescent light bulbs we are used to.

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You need to decide what sort of light you need in any given area of your home before you buy your new light bulbs. Although the bright, but rather cold, white light given by the LED would be a suitable choice for a kitchen, workroom or utility room it would probably be much too harsh for a study, lounge or bedroom. In areas where a softer light is need a better choice is to go for halogen light bulbs or perhaps CFL where a more diffused ambient light can be created. There are light bulbs to fit any and all of your existing light fittings and they come in a huge and diverse choice but if in doubt then just ask an assistant or consult the light bulb packaging.

It is law that all packaging must carry a comprehensive chart where real life comparisons of all aspects of the new bulbs are noted. The chart must give a comparison between light type, as in cold, warm, blue or yellow. Energy used, as in old wattage light bulbs to new type light bulbs and also a comparison between the cost and the life expectancy of the bulbs. With all this information it should not be too difficult to get the exact light bulb for your light fitting.

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