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Start looking for lumens

2 March 2012

Before I entered into extreme energy efficiency training, (this job) I never knew that there was any other way to measure light output than watts. Then I learned thatthere is a measurement called lumen which means the visible light output by a source. Which is when I thought “that makes so much more sense!” When I have to figure out how bright I want a light to be logically we should look at the light output. And with lighting technology becoming diversified with compact florescent light bulbs (CFL) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs)- it is time to make the switch to lumens.

A watt is a unit of energy. Put another way, a watt measures how much electrical power a device uses. So that is why many CFL bulb packages say things such as “60 watt equivilant” but it says it only uses 13 watts. It is the same brightness of a 60 watt but only uses 13 watts of energy. Which can be super confusing. Along with this some bulbs that are not Energy Star rated may say they are they are equivilant to a certain wattage, lets say 60, but have less than 800 lumens (check chart below).  This is why we all need to start looking at lumens so we will know how bright they lights we are buying are without being distracted by the change in wattage.


GREAT CFL Energy Star buying guide   Short video explanation

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