Light Bulb Conversion Guide

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Converting your home from incandescent bulbs to LED or CFL means changing the way you shop for light bulbs. You used to be able to look at your light fixture, see how many watts were recommended, go to your store, and buy the appropriate bulb. But now, LED (light emitting diodes) and CFL (compact fluorescents) are categorized by lumens. What are lumens? If your light fixture requires a 60-watt bulb, which LED bulb do you purchase? This guide will answer these questions and show you the easiest way to convert from incandescent light bulbs to LED or CFL.

Converting Your Light Bulbs:

  1. Wattage measures energy used: Contrary to popular belief, wattage does not measure how bright a light bulb is; it measures how much energy the bulb uses. And since the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs waste 90 percent of the energy they require by giving off heat, they require more watts than the newer bulbs to create the same amount of brightness. Traditionally, incandescent bulbs were rated between 40 and 100 watts. Now, LED and CFL bulbs can create the same amount of brightness with a fraction of the energy, so their wattage rating will be much lower -- usually between 5 and 25 watts.

  2. Lumens measure brightness: Lumens are the rating measurement for brightness, so the more lumens, the brighter the bulb. When choosing the right LED or CFL bulb for your fixture, you will want to concentrate on the lumens rather than the wattage because the wattage measurements for the different types of bulbs are so different. For example, a 60-watt incandescent bulb produces 800 lumens of light, but an LED bulb that produces the same amount of brightness only requires 15 watts.

  3. Converting wattage to lumens: Though some LED and CFL bulbs are listed with their wattage equivalent, it is important to know how to convert the wattage your incandescent bulbs use to lumens and the wattage your new bulbs will require. Here is a table to help you find the corresponding lumens and wattage to your old incandescent bulbs.

  4. Incandescent/Halogen Wattage Lumens LED or CFL Wattage
    25 250 4-9
    40 450 9-13
    60 800 13-15
    75 1110 18-25
    100 1600 23-30
    125 2000 22-40
    150 2600 40-45
  5. For example: To replace a 60-watt incandescent light bulb, choose an LED or CFL bulb that gives you 800 lumens. The wattage will be between 13 and 15 watts. Just make sure that the base of the light bulb is the same shape and size, and it will fit into your light ficture perfectly.

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