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What are Lumens?

“Lumens” is a term we often hear when talking about lighting. But what is a lumen, exactly? And how do you know how many you need to properly illuminate your space? Here are the most important facts about lumens and how the relate to the lighting in your home.

TechOutdoor CirqueCeiling Bowman4Wall Brozne Entry What are Lumens?

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A Definition of Lumens


Lumens Equals Brightness


The lumen output describes  how much light the bulb produces.  More lumens means more light. Wattage, which is sometimes confused as a measure of brightness, is actually a measure of energy use. A 100 watt incandescent bulb is equivalent to about 1600 lumens, whereas a 40 watt incandescent bulb is equivalent to 450 lumens.


Choosing the Right Light Bulb


The lumen output will be listed on the packaging of the light bulb, whether it is incandescent, CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) or LED. Here you will also find the color of the light, or the color temperature. Learn more about color temperature here. If the fixture uses an LED module or an integrated LED, the lumens should be listed on the manufacturer’s spec sheet.

Moxy Detail What are Lumens?

Tech Lighting Moxy Pendant uses Integrated LED Modules


How Much Light Do I Need?


The type of room will determine the lighting requirements and needs. For example, a bathroom or kitchen will require more light than a living room or bedroom. To figure out roughly how much light is needed for your space, determine the square footage of the room. To find this, multiply the length by the width of the room. If your room is 10’ x 10’, it is 100 square feet. Then, determine the wattage needed to illuminate the space. Take the square footage and multiply it by 1.5. The result will you give the amount of wattage needed for general illumination. So, the 100 square foot room will need roughly 150 watts for general illumination, which equates to around 2250 lumens.



How Do Lumens Compare to Watts?


When replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs, use the general guidelines below to determine which one to buy.

Learn about the benefits of LED Lighting here.


Lumens vs. Watts


  • – A 100-watt incandescent bulb is equivalent to about 1600 lumens
  • – A 75-watt incandescent bulb is equivalent to about 1100 lumens
  • – A 60-watt incandescent bulb is equivalent to about 800 lumens
  • – A 40-watt incandescent bulb is equivalent to about 450 lumens


Bottom Line


Lumens are the new way to shop for lighting and light bulbs. As incandescent bulbs continue to be phased out and are being replaced  with technologically advanced LEDs, the emphasis switches from watts to lumens. For more light, look for more lumens.

If you still aren’t sure what you need, our Design Team experts can help you determine how many lumens are needed for your total space or specific task. Whether you have a full lighting plan or just need one lamp, we can help find the perfect fixture that suits your needs. To speak with a member of our Design Team, please give us a call at 888.602.7011 or email us at