Dude, what’s my wattage?
Times change and technology improves. This is what’s happening to the light bulbs we use in our offices and homes too.
What used to be a hot-to-the-touch “cheapie” that burned out every couple of years, is now a highly sophisticated micro-computer Light Emitting Diode (LED) illumination source. What’s truly amazing is that a good-quality LED bulb now lasts 13 to 20 years, depending on how long it’s turned on.
What we hear about the “death of the incandescent bulb” is misleading: today’s technology is able to provide the same amount of illumination at a fraction of the energy consumption from before. This saves our electricity bill in two ways: 1) reducing the energy needed for illumination and 2) reducing the energy needed for air-conditioning to cool down our homes and offices from the hot bulbs.
All this innovation is great, but when we visit our home improvement retailer, looking for a replacement bulb can quickly get very confusing. For example, instead of looking for a 75W bulb, we’re now looking for a 53W or 12W bulb. LED efficiency has already been progressing, so what’s important now is the lumens, or amount of light, that a bulb emits: 75W (incandescent) = 1100 lumens = 53W (LED) = 12W (LED).
Here’s an easy guide to help make sense of this Brave New World of Light:
Incandescent Watts Lumens LED Watts
100W 1600 lm 17W
75W 1100 lm 12W
60W 800 lm 10W
30W 450 lm 5W
25W 375 lm 4W
What’s the difference between E26 and E12?
E26 sockets, also referred to as medium base sockets, are the most common socket type found in household lamps. They are about 1” in diameter (about the size of a quarter).
E12 sockets, also known as candelabra base sockets, are usually found in chandelier type lighting fixtures. They are about 1/2” in diameter (about the size of a dime).
What is color temperature?
Color temperature refers to the appearance of a light bulb. It is measured in degrees of Kelvin (K) and ranges from a scale of 1,000 to 10,000. Most commercial and residential bulbs fall within the range of 2000K to 6500K.
A bulb with a temperature between 2000K and 2700K will give a warm appearance, similar to firelight or candlelight. Warm light is great for creating an inviting and relaxing atmosphere, making it ideal for living rooms and bedrooms. It also stimulates the production of melatonin, which helps your brain prepare for sleep.
A bulb with a temperature between 4000K and 6500K will give a cool appearance, similar to daylight. Cool light stimulates the brain, promoting focus and alertness, making it ideal for spaces like offices and hospitals.
What are lumens?
Lumens are a measurement of how much light a bulb emits. Higher lumens mean a brighter light and fewer lumens mean a dimmer light. While wattage has been used to indicate an incandescent bulb’s brightness, lumens are a more accurate indicator for an LED bulb. For example, a 60W incandescent bulb produced 800 lumens and today, a 9W LED bulb can produce the same amount of lumens with significantly less energy. Here’s more info on watts vs. lumens
Why do some LED bulbs flicker?
The performance of any LED bulb depends on the quality of the microchip or driver inside. An LED bulb produces light when an electrical current passes through the microchip. Higher quality chips provide a consistent electrical current, eliminating any visible flickering. But if the microchip is poor quality, the current passing through can fluctuate and be unstable, which can cause flickering or strobing.
Are all LED bulbs dimmable?
LED bulbs are dimmed through a process called Pulse Width Modulation or PWM. At full brightness, an LED bulb emits light through a rapid ‘on and off’ cycle. This process happens in milliseconds, too fast for the human eye to perceive. When an LED bulb is dimmed, the driver or microchip inside the bulb modulates this cycle, which requires higher quality components and more advanced technology in order to run seamlessly. This is why only higher quality LED bulbs are labeled as ‘dimmable’.
How much can I save on my electricity bill with LED bulbs?
Switching from incandescent to LED bulbs in your home can save you an average of 75% in energy costs, depending on where you live and the number of bulbs in your home. Visit Eartheasy for some helpful comparison guides.
How long do LED bulbs last?
Most LED bulbs are rated to last 10,000 to 25,000 hours. This is much more efficient than incandescent bulbs, which only last an average of 1,200 hours.