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What Is The LED Watts Equivalent?

As technology improves, our language around it evolves as well. What we once used to measure quantities may no longer apply as more and more strict standards are devised with time.

Measures and units like horsepower and candlepower have an apparent history of how the measurement must have come around. And they are still used, but they don’t necessarily mean the same thing anymore.

Similarly, the wattage of a bulb has been conventionally associated with how bright the bulb will be. In contrast, watts have little to do with brightness, and everything to do with power consumption.

With the everyday use of LEDs nowadays, using wattage to predict brightness does not make sense any longer. The new measure is lumens or watts equivalent to help with the transition.

LED watts equivalent of an LED bulb is the wattage needed for an LED bulb to tally to the conventional bulb’s wattage and the associated lumen rating, in order to get that same brightness in the LED bulb.

What Is The Bulb’s Wattage?

Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane to science class in high school.

Watts, or wattage, is the measurement of electrical power, where 1 watt is equal to 1 joule being transferred per second. But in the setting of electrical circuits and application, watts easily translates to current into voltage.

For example, a 40-watt bulb would convert 40 joules of energy into light output and heat output per second.

How much of this output is heat, and how much is light, is the big energy-saving difference between LEDs and incandescents.

Merely stating, watts only measure energy consumption. It does not now, or has ever before, measured brightness, color temperature, or any other specifications that factor into a purchase of a light bulb.

Brightness was associated with the wattage due to an acquired experience of judging the brightness of a 60 Watt incandescent versus a 120 Watt one.

But now, if you go out and buy a 60 Watt LED bulb, you will most likely end up lighting up your whole street! It is just too bright for the same watts.

Now, brightness is best and most accurately measured by lumens, and color temperature is measured in Kelvin degrees.

LED Wattage Equivalent Explained

wattage equivalvent

Now let’s suppose you have always known a 60-watt incandescent bulb to be a certain brightness in your experience. You associate 60-watt with that brightness level.

That level is, in fact, 800 lumens approximately speaking.

So an incandescent that outputs 800 lumens uses 60-Watts to power itself.

Now comes the beauty of LEDs. An LED bulb will use around 1/10th the wattage (6 Watts) of an incandescent bulb to give you the same, or equivalent, 800 lumens bright light.

An LED will have a wattage between 7 to 10 watts only, and that is the watt equivalent you need to look for if you are in the market for a ‘conventional 60 Watt light output’.

The LED uses 1/10th the wattage, which directly translates to 1/10th the bills you will be paying and the savings you will enjoy due to the energy-saving technology of LEDs.

Why Is Wattage Not An Important Measure Anymore?

Going by wattage to predict or determine brightness is not the standard anymore. The wattage of a bulb is simply a measure of how much power is being consumed by your bulb.

With lesser watts, an LED can give you the same brightness as an incandescent bulb of higher wattage.

This is because the wattage to light and heat output conversion is highly inefficient in incandescent bulbs.

Specifically, around 90% of wattage, power, or energy conversion is LOST as heat. Only 10% makes it to your room as light if you are using an incandescent bulb.

This is why a 90% lower watt LED bulb will shine as bright as a high wattage incandescent. Almost all of the lower watts in an LED are converted into light output.

Basically, wattage does not reflect the truth anymore, purely because LEDs are so efficient that 60W LEDs will be massively bright, compared to the 60W incandescent bulb.

Since incandescents are being slowly phased out, and the newer generations are shifting onto LEDs and other energy-efficient bulbs, the conventional measure of wattage will eventually die out.

LED vs Incandescent vs CFL Wattage Conversion

Take a look at the table below and keep it handy when you make your next purchasing decision about replacing your old inefficient bulbs to energy-saving LED bulbs.

If you are used to an incandescent bulb of 100 Watts in your living room, the LED wattage equivalent will be an LED bulb between 15 to 20 Watts. This will give you a brightness of 1100 lumens that you were used to.

Usually, since you will end up using lesser wattage, you don’t need to worry about exceeding a fixture’s requirement of a certain maximum wattage.

However, it is possible you may replace one incandescent with multiple LEDs. Therefore, it is always important to double-check that your new bulbs in total do not exceed the maximum wattage of the luminaire.

Lumens Incandescent CFL LED
250 lm 25 W 6 W 2 W – 3 W
560 lm 40 W 10 W 3 W – 6 W
800 lm 60 W 13 W 7 W – 10 W
1100 lm 75 W 18 W 10 W – 15 W
1600 lm 100 W 23 W 15 W – 20 W
2600 lm 150 W 42 W 20 W – 30 W

Final Words

LED watts equivalent readings are not hard to grasp once you realize that it is in fact lumens you need to be worried about, and not wattage.

Use the table to find out the equivalent, and you will end up with the correct brightness for your space.

Are you looking for the equivalent watts you need for your LED to get the same brightness as your current bulb?

Have you calculated how much you will be saving per year once you switch to LEDs?

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