What is a Lumen?

Wednesday June 23, 2021

?What Are Lumens?

Lumen is a word you may come across frequently when searching for LED lights.Their ratings are frequently listed first on the information panel of an LED light. Lumens are a vital measurement in lighting and knowing how to use them will help you select the best lighting for your purposes. Here's how Lumens affect your lighting decisions.

Lumens are a unit of measurement for the brightness of a light in LED lighting. Watts, on the other hand, are a unit of measurement for the amount of energy in a light. The term lumen literally means "light," which makes sense when you know what this unit of measurement is. The brighter the light, the higher the lumens.

It is more crucial to measure the brightness of a light than its power. Incandescent bulbs were previously measured in watts, which indicated how much energy they consumed. The higher the wattage, the brighter the light. Greater wattage does not necessarily guarantee more light now that the industry has so many energy efficient lighting options, unless you stay within the same type of light bulb.  It is for this reason that LED lighting is measured in lumens.

When determining how many lights to purchase for emergency situations like power outages from hurricanes or other catastrophic weather events, lumens are a particularly useful unit. Most homes have a minimum need for visibility, and you can only calculate how many lights you need in lumens.  You can install or buy the proper number of emergency lights if you require a specific amount of lumens per square foot and know how many lumens the light produces.

Lumens and watts are not interchangeable since they measure distinct things.

Comparing a pound of apples to a gallon of milk is like comparing apples to apples - the measurements are radically different.

You can, however, approximate how many lumens a given watt bulb will produce. A 100-watt incandescent light, for example, provides around 1600 lumens.  A 26-watt LED bulb produces the same amount of lumens as a 40-watt light.

Why do watts and lumens cause so much confusion? Watts were used to measure incandescent lights when they were the predominant light source in homes and workplaces.

People began to link watts with brightness since everyone understood a 100-watt bulb was brighter than a 40-watt bulb, despite the fact that watts represented the quantity of power utilized. 

With the introduction of LED, CFL and other more energy-efficient lighting choices, this relationship is no longer valid. A 22-watt LED bulb is substantially brighter than a 60-watt incandescent light since it produces 1600 lumens against 800 for the 60-watt incandescent.

See ProPac's large selection of emergency home, shelter and emergency scene lighting here.