Light Bulb

Bulbs 101| Part I | Lumens, Brightness Scale & Lighting Watts

Beau Wynja

Bulbs 101

Lumens and Color Temperature -
Picking the right Bulb -
How Much Lighting do I need? -

What Are Lumens?

What Are Lumens?

The definition of a lumen is a unit of luminous flux in the International System of Units, equal to the amount of light given out through a solid angle by a source of one candela intensity radiating equally in all directions.

In other words, lumens are the measurement of light output or brightness. Watts measure the amount of energy used, whereas lumens measure the amount of light produced. The more lumens in a light bulb, the brighter the light.

In the past, you were able to guesstimate how bright the light was based on an incandescent bulb’s lighting watts, but with LED lighting, it’s getting more and more difficult to tell. A lumen brightness scale is now an essential tool when choosing a bulb.

Simple graphic of a gradient of light bulbs from darker to lighter illustrating lumens brightness scale.

Lumens = Brightness 



With new, energy-efficient LED light bulbs around, we can no longer rely upon wattage to indicate how bright a bulb is. If you need a little extra help to figure out the lumens on a brightness scale, here is a conversion table to indicate how to convert watts to brightness.


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Check Out the Free Online Conversion Guide:  Convert Lumens to Watts 


Lumens brightness scale chart with lighting watts and bulb types.

You may already know about the different types of light that you need to layer to properly light a room, but we’re not here to talk about ambient, accent, and task lighting! You can learn about those in our lighting guide for new homeowners.

When you’re trying to figure out the appropriate lumens on the brightness scale for your bulbs, that’s a whole other animal. In order to decide how many lumens you need to light a room, you should consider the general rule that designers and architects use:

Bedrooms and living rooms need about 10-20 lumens per square foot, while kitchens and bathrooms need around 70-80 lumens per square foot. A 100 square foot bedroom, for example, will need about 1,000 lumens total, dispersed between all the light bulbs in the space. A 100 square foot bathroom, however, will need 7,000 lumens total, distributed between all the light bulbs.

Explore Our Lighting Tips for Each Room





Illustration of the Kelvin color temperature scale for lumens brightness scale

In addition to determining lumens on a brightness scale, you also want to figure out the color of your light bulb. Generally, the higher the Degrees Kelvin, the whiter the color temperature of the bulb. Although the whiter lights will appear “brighter” than those of a lower Kelvin reading, the amount of lumens on the brightness scale does not change, and true brightness is not affected.

Learn About Kelvins & Color Temperature in This Video

Kelvins and Color Temperature


A warm light will provide an inviting and cozy vibe to your space. In contrast, a cool or white light will bring a fresh and sharp look to the room. What type of space calls for which kind of light? We recommend bathrooms and kitchens have cooler lights to ensure you can see exactly what you’re doing. Bedrooms and living rooms can go a little warmer to create a more relaxing space.

Three images of a globe in different temperature lighting, from warm, to cool, plus warm/cool comparison.




Not all light bulbs are equal. There is a lot more to a light bulb than the 40 or 60 lighting watt description. That's why the packaging is full of useful information to help you select the best bulb for your needs. It even includes the voltage, energy cost, and the amount of lumens on the brightness scale, so you know exactly what you’re getting.

Review the below sample of our light bulb packaging and a diagram of the different parts of one of our light bulbs.

Understanding Your Bulb Packaging

 Lighting Facts
1. Picture of the bulb inside the box.
2. Name and type of bulb.
3. Lighting watts is the amount of energy required in a light bulb.
4. Voltage is the force that pushes Electrical Current through a conductor.
5. Impact on both the environment and the wallet. The more efficient, the more you save.
6. Tint of light bulb glass. Tints can affect the color temperature of light emitted.
7. Shapes and bases might differ from your power source.
8. Whether the light bulb is compatible with dimmers.
9. Light output or brightness emitted by a light bulb. This is where you’ll find the lumens.
10. Estimated yearly cost of the bulb based on 3 hours a day lightbulb usage.
11.  Lifetime of a lightbulb based on 3 hours a day usage.
12.  Watts are measurements of the amount of energy required in a light bulb.
13. The light’s appearance and Kelvin measurements.


Kelvins and Color Temperature


Dimmable bulbs help increase the lighting versatility in your space. Sometimes, you want your living room to exude a chic, cozy vibe, but other times, you need to provide a well-lit space for dinner parties and other big events. A dimmer will let you change the ambiance of a room immediately. Our AiO fixtures are dimmer compatible!

When you dim a light bulb, it lowers the wattage, decreases the Kelvin temperature (to a red/orange hue), and reduces the lumens on the brightness scale. Changing all three elements of the bulb will substantially alter the aura in your space.

Dimmable all-in-one custom globe light fixture by Color Cord Company



Can you guess cool vs warm Light?

Picture by @elianaghantous

By @elianaghantous

Image by @bannerdaysf

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Image by @firefly_kitchen

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