How Do I Know What Wattage Rating To Choose To Achieve The Lighting Effect I Want?
Firstly bear in mind that it is always wise to follow manufactures recommendations where wattage is concerned as the components of your light fitting will have been tested for safety and optimum performance and a light bulb will have been recommended accordingly.
With that said there are many variations on the classic light bulb that can give you a variety of lighting effects.
Originally light bulbs (incandescent) were chosen by their wattage i.e. 40 watt, 60 watt etc. and the larger the number the brighter the bulb. The light given off was generally bright with a yellowish tint. The old style light bulb however used a considerable amount of power and recent regulations have dictated that they be phased out and replaced with more energy efficient bulbs.
With new technologies the light bulb has evolved into something rather more complex and now to measure brightness wattage is no longer feasible and so we use lumen. The higher the number of lumen the brighter the bulb, whereas wattage has become a measurement of the power your light bulb consumes.
In general there are two types of bulb for you to choose from CFL (compact fluorescent lights) or LED (light emitting diode) but there is also the halogen bulb to consider.
When choosing your light bulb now a general calculation is that the wattage of the newer CFL bulbs needs to be about ¼ of the original incandescent bulb. That means that if you had a 60 watt bulb giving you around 800 lumen you now would need a 15 watt CFL bulb to replace it. (60:- ¼ = 15). While LED bulbs can use even less wattage than that and they are also very cost effective as they last longer.
With LED lights you will get a softer, warmer light more like the old incandescent bulb which gave a slightly yellow glow. While a CFL light will give you a brighter, cooler, bluer light.
Depending on the area you wish to illuminate and the brightness you require will determine which type of bulb you will need.
All new light bulb packaging must have a comparison chart on the box somewhere, this is the lighting facts label, use this as your guide as it will give you all the information you need about the bulb inside and whether it can give the effect you are trying to achieve.
The chart will also give you a lumen output and give a comparison to the old incandescent bulb, it will also tell you if the bulb light is warm or cool, in other words does it have a white, yellow or blue tone. This will allow you to decide whether it is right for the look you are trying to achieve.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with the new style light bulbs as you can achieve a much more varied degree of illumination using different bulbs in different lamp shades, floor lamps and pendant lighting.