Kelvin, Lumens, Watts it all mean?

Feb 15, 2016

Getting the right lighting for your space can be confusing. This stunning Hudson Furniture chandelier above, while certainly an accent in any room, is an example of an ambient lighting fixture. There are 3 basic types of lighting that haven’t really changed in the last 10 years. Task – for reading or food prep. Ambient – general room lighting. Accent – highlighting art or washing a textured wall to draw attention to an area. HOWEVER, the language of lighting has changed. Watts is what consumers knew and came to understand. Since the change of lighting with efficacy regulations we now have terms that we aren’t familiar with – Kelvin and Lumens, Watts it all mean?

WATTs still tell us how much electricity a light consumes. Wattage use to tell us how bright a light was, this is no longer true. LEDs and compact florescent lights use far lower wattage than the old school incandescent bulbs and can be just as bright. In other words they provide the same amount of light but use far less electricity to do so. Today lumens are the gauge for brightness in a bulb.

LUMENS are a measure of brightness or the amount of light you get from a bulb.

KELVIN is a measurement for the color of the light. The lower the number the warmer the light. Most bulbs range from 2,500 being the warmest to 6,500 the coolest. For reference, sunlight is 10,000k and a candle burns at 1,900K.

The Lighting Research Center created this chart below to show how many lumens you need for particular tasks. As we grow older our eyes get weaker so you may have to increase the lumens for your use.

BEDROOM– 16×12  Lumens Needed
Bedroom General 1920
Reading 98
Writing 720
Closet 381
Dressing 1680
KITCHEN– 12×10
Kitchen General 4810
Counters – cutting 360
Range 450
Sink 450
Pantry 1080
Living room General 1430
Reading 330
Music 690
Bathroom General 3980
Toilet 45
Vanity 1680
Confused by Lighting Labels

Kelvin, Lumens, Watts it all mean

Lighting Conversion Chart Lumens, Incandescent, CFLs and LEDs

Lighting Conversion Chart Lumens, Incandescent, CFLs and LEDs

Images borrowed from: 01 | 02 | 03