Lumens versus watts: It’s time to turn your attention to lumens | PowerLed

Lumens versus watts: It’s time to turn your attention to lumens | PowerLed

For decades, the electrical industry has leaned heavily on wattage as a principal metric for evaluating and deploying lighting solutions. Today, the pressing need is to transition the industry’s attention from watts to lumens as the definitive gauge for light output, as Russell Parr, CEO at PowerLed, explains.

Historically, wattage, a measure of energy consumption, has been a reliable, albeit rudimentary, indicator of a bulb’s brightness: a 60 W bulb almost always shined brighter than its 40 W counterpart. However, with the advent of new lighting technologies, like LEDs, and the drive towards energy efficiency, such a generalised relationship between power consumption and brightness will no longer suffice. Lumens, in contrast, quantify the total visible light emitted by a source and thus are the more apt metric in today’s context.

LEDs – a beacon of sustainability and efficiency

LEDs represent the future of sustainable lighting. Compared to other forms of lighting, their energy efficiency is unparalleled, requiring significantly less energy (up to 80% less) to produce the same, if not better, brightness than incandescent or halogen bulbs. Over time, this delivers considerable reductions in energy consumption and, consequently, smaller electricity bills and CO2 emissions.

Furthermore, LEDs don’t contain the toxic element mercury, often found in CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps). Indeed, because they release mercury into the environment, since 1st September, T5 and T8 fluorescent tubes are being phased out. Manufacturers can no longer produce mercury-containing bulbs and to comply with the RoHS Directive, all companies must find alternative lighting solutions and discard their fluorescents as hazardous waste or via structured recycling.

Lumens: the optimal metric

When considering lumens versus watts, it is evident that wattage, as a measure, doesn’t showcase the full potential of LEDs. Given their high luminous efficacy, LEDs produce more light (lumens) per unit of power consumed (watts) than traditional forms of lighting. Thus, lumen output is a more accurate representation of an LED’s performance.

At PowerLed, our view is that focusing on lumens rather than watts empowers consumers to make better-informed decisions regarding light quality and energy efficiency. For instance, choosing a 10 W 800 lumens LED over a 60 W incandescent bulb with the same luminosity provides the desired illumination levels but with lower energy costs and reduced environmental impact.

Lumens are equally useful when comparing LEDs. For example, while both basic 9.6 W LED flexible tape and 9.6 W PowerLed +Flex use the same amount of energy, basic flexitape only produces 90 lumens per watt, whereas PowerLed +Flex produces 138 lumens per watt. Using watts, it is easy to believe both products provide identical brightness, however, PowerLed +Flex provides 466 lumens more brightness for the same power output.

As LED technology improves and the focus shifts to reducing the power needed to achieve the same lumen output, adopting lumens as a metric for brightness will become even more important. With floodlighting, for instance, purchasing products based on their wattage is no longer reliable as a modern 100 W LED floodlight can achieve the same brightness as an older 150 W model. An additional advantage of reducing the wattage that LEDs need is that it will reduce driver sizes, lowering the cost of the product.

Another consideration is the longevity of LED products. High-quality LED lights often have a lifespan of 50,000 hours or more, substantially longer than other forms of lighting. This provides a better ROI and minimises environmental waste as fewer LEDs go to landfills. However, it is not unheard of for some companies to manipulate test conditions, like temperature, to exaggerate their product’s lifespan.

PowerLed takes a different approach, conducting tests at medium temperatures to offer a genuine 50,000-hour solution. Besides being more honest about lifespan, this practice enables the company to focus on warranty rather than on operational hours. It is important to note that customers commonly confuse the 50,000 hours lifetime of the LED with the product warranty, however, this is not the case. Overall, the shift from wattage to lumens as the primary metric for evaluating lighting solutions is a significant step forward that offers the electrical contracting industry and consumers a more accurate, efficient and sustainable approach.

Committed to delivering quality and efficiency, PowerLed offers high quality LED drivers and lighting solutions for residential, commercial and industrial projects.

Get more details about the PowerLed range of LED drivers and lighting solutions here

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