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Understanding Lumens vs Kelvin

Whether you are upgrading from incandescent bulbs or replacing existing LEDs, it is important to choose the correct bulb for your application. Some of the specifications and terminology surrounding LED lights can be confusing. This article will focus on demystifying the terms "lumens" and "Kelvin temperatures". We'll explore what these terms mean and how different values will effect your LED bulb's performance.
In simple terms, a light's lumen value describes the brightness and the Kelvin temperature describes its color.


A lumen (often denoted lm) is a measure of how much visible light is generated by a light source. A larger lumen figure means a brighter light. Both LEDs and traditional lights use lumens to quantify how much light they produce. You will notice that LEDs are able to produce more lumens at lower watts. When upgrading your traditional lights to LEDs, it is important to compare the lumens produced, not the wattage.

Below is a chart showing approximate wattage conversions for various light types based on lumens. Keep in mind that some lights are more efficient than others, so check the exact lumen output of the light you are buying to ensure a correct conversion.
Bulb Type Lumens
220+ 400+ 700+ 900+ 1,300+ 8,000+ 16,000+ 40,000+
Standard 25W 40W 60W 75W 100W - - -
Halogen 18W 28W 42W 53W 70W 120W - -
CFL 6W 9W 12W 15W 20W 100W - -
MH/HPS - - - - - 250W 400W 1000W
LED 4W 6W 10W 13W 18W 60W 120W 400W

Kelvin Temperature

The Kelvin temperature of a light represents the color that a bulb will produce. Generally, a light's Kelvin temperature will be fall somewhere between 2000K and 6500K. It's important to choose a proper temperature for the your LED bulb's application. Below is a chart showing the different Kelvin temperatures on the visible light spectrum.

Kelvin temperatures of 2000K-3000K produce a warm, calm, inviting light that is great for general indoor lighting in both homes and businesses. LED lights in the 3100K-4500K range can be described as "cool white". These are bright and vibrant lights that are perfect for workspaces like basements, factories and hospitals. Lights with Kelvin temperatures in the 4600K-6500K range produce a crisp color similar to that of daylight. These lights are best when maximum illumination is required like security lighting, display cases, warehouses and industrial areas.