Is a Lumen More Important than Wattage?
We've probably all heard of light bulbs described in terms of wattage. Roughly, the more watts a lightbulb consumes, the brighter the bulb, right? While this once may have been an adequate rule of thumb, it's no longer technically accurate.
In modern times, a lumen is a far better measure of your bulb's performance than wattage. So, what is a lumen?
Put simply, a lumen is a unit of measure for "brightness" or how much light your bulb produces. 1 lumen is roughly equivalent to the light produced by a single burning candle. A watt describes how much energy your bulb consumes to output lumens of brightness. Your bulb's efficiency will be determined by how much energy is required to produce the desired lumens.
So How Many Lumens Do I Need in a Room?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn't 100% straight forward. How many lumens you'll need depends on the answer to your first question. If for, example, you need adequate lighting for tasks like cooking, reading or working, then you'll need more lighting than a porch or living room. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure optimal lighting in every room:
- Measure your room sq. footage
Determining how many lumens you'll need in a room starts with figuring out how much surface area there is in your room. To do this, measure the length along the base of each wall in your room and multiply them to find the surface area in sq. feet. If you have a complicated room structure, you may need to break the floor plan into easy to measure squares or triangles or refer to your floor plan details.
- Multiply the surface area by recommended foot-candles to find your lumen requirement
A foot-candle is a number that describes how bright a light source appears from one foot away. Depending on the purpose of your room a higher or lower number of foot candles is recommended. Select a recommendation based on your room of choice from the list below and multiply that number by the surface area of your room to find the approximate number of lumens required to light that room.
- Workspace or garage: 100-foot candles
- Kitchen countertops: 80-foot candles
- Bathroom: 80-foot candles
- Office or home office: 80-foot candles
- Dining room: 40-foot candles
- Kitchen: 40-foot candles
- Living or family room: 20-foot candles
- Bedroom: 20-foot candles
- Hallway: 10-foot candles
Example: 110 sq. ft. living room lighting requirement= 110x20=2200 lumens.
What types of bulbs do I need?
Now that you have a solid estimate of how much light your room in question requires, the next logical step is determining what type of bulb you should pick for the impact you are searching for. Let's take a quick look at the most common bulbs you'll find right now.
LED stands for light-emitting diode and is a type of light bulb that has grown tremendously in popularity in recent years. The standard LED bulb is around 75% more energy-efficient than a standard incandescent light bulb.
LED bulbs primarily produce directional lighting, so the standard LED bulb is best suited for task lighting as opposed to ambient lighting. Recently, LED bulbs have begun compensating for their deficiencies in diffuse lighting by clustering a few LEDs into one bulb, mimicking a diffuse light display, but these bulbs can be 6 times more expensive than normal LED bulbs.
LED bulb pros:
- Usually cheap
- Extremely long-life span (10-20 years on avg.)
- Energy efficient (9-watt LED is equivalent to 20-watt incandescent)
- Effective task/spot lighting
LED bulb cons:
- Can be expensive when used for diffuse lighting