Understanding Different Light Bulbs and Lumens

Before I went camping this year, I wanted to buy a new lantern. I noticed a new label on many lanterns, especially those using LED bulbs that were marked in lumens. A lumen is the measurement of how much light a bulb provides. After an internet search of this new labeling, I began asking myself how many lumens would be the equivalent of different types of light bulbs.

Regular incandescent bulbs have been around for almost a hundred years and they are on their way out. More energy efficient bulbs such as LED’s, CFL’s and halogen lights are taking their place. This is because these new bulbs use far less electricity than incandescent bulbs do.

Like most people, I am used to the “old system” of light bulbs. I learned from experience how much light I would have by using bulbs such as 40watt, 60watt, 100watt and so on. This new packaging was confusing. I will share what I learned and you will be able to choose the right light bulbs for your use whether that is a refrigerator light, camping lantern, solar lantern, flashlight or regular home lighting.

The Definition Of Lumens

A lumen is a measurement of how much light is emitted from a source. The lower the number of lumens, the less light is emitted. The higher the number, the more light is emitted from the source.

The amount of lumens needed to light a space can depend on a wide variety of factors such as natural lighting, the height of the ceiling, the amount of space in the room and so on. There really is no easy answer, it would seem. However, there are approximate equivalents that you can use to help you make the right choice for your needs.

How To Choose The Right Bulbs And Lumens

The type of lighting you choose such as CFL’s, LED’s or halogen lights depends on your needs.

Halogen bulbs are extremely bright, but must not be touched with bare hands. The oils on your hands can heat up and cause the bulb to explode. They are common in sealed outdoor lighting, motion detector lights and some indoor lighting.

LED, or light emitting diode bulbs, use the least amount of electricity. Many traditionally shaped bulbs house multiple LED’s that provide light. No special adaptors are needed as they are designed to be used with traditional sockets.

CFL, or compact fluorescent bulbs, use more power than LED’s but less than incandescent bulbs. A wide variety and assortment of shapes and sizes are manufactured for nearly every use from workshop lighting, lanterns and more.

Different Light Bulbs And Lumens

The following table will offer an approximate amount of lumens per type of bulb.

  • · 25 watt incandescent- 150 lumens 3-4watt LED- 200 lumens
  • · 40watt incandescent- 29watt halogen- 11watt CFL- 9watt LED- 450 lumens
  • · 60watt incandescent- 43watt halogen- 13watt CFL- 12watt LED- 800 lumens
  • · 75watt incandescent- 53 watt halogen- 23 watt CFL- 17watt LED- 1100 lumens
  • · 100watt incandescent- 72watt halogen- 26 watt CFL- 23watt LED- 1600 lumens

I could not find any CFL or halogen equivalents of the typical candelabra 25-watt incandescent light bulbs on the market.

How To Choose An LED Lantern Or Flashlight By Lumens

LED flashlights and lanterns are often advertised by the number of bulbs they contain and not all are labeled with the amount of lumens they provide. I will share my research with you. Keep in mind that lanterns with the highest amount of lumens such as 1600, are usually provided by models that burn fuel. Those powered by batteries, whether they are solar or not, have a lower number of lumens.

It is important to note that different types of LED bulbs are being manufactured and may vary in the amount of lumens provided. This is a general guide.

  • · 3 LED bulbs- 13 lumens
  • · 4 LED bulbs – 24 lumens
  • · 9 LED bulbs – 66 lumens
  • · One manufacturer advertises a 4 LED lantern that provides 240 lumens

As incandescent bulbs disappear from the shelves and more packages include the number of lumens for each product, it will take some time for consumers to become accustomed to choosing lighting by lumens rather than by wattage.

This general guide is provided to make it easier for you. It certainly has worked for me.

Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse subjects and skills such as DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and more.

Source: Staff Article, “Lighting A to Z,” USA lighting website, no date given

Source: Staff Article, “Energizer Solar Rechargeable 9-LED Lantern,” Amazon website, no date given

Source: Staff Article, “Understanding The Changes To Light Bulbs,” True Value website video, no date given

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