Watt’s new in lighting brightness? Actually, that’s more than a bad pun. It’s outdated. Watts are out. Lumens are in as the way of measuring a bulb’s brightness. Why not watts? Thanks to the now-common lower wattage LED, lower watts no longer means less light. Since a 16-20 watt LED puts out the same amount of light as a 100 watt incandescent bulb, a new standard measurement for brightness was needed.

Watts still have their place. But they measure energy use, not light output. Watts are the numbers that are translated to kilowatt hours (kWh) on your BC Hydro bill. (A 100-watt light bulb left on for 10 hours would use 1,000 kWh of electricity). But their day is done as a measurement of a lightbulb’s brightness.

The Breakdown

Let’s say you’re accustomed to using a 60-watt incandescent bulb in a living room table lamp. Its lumen rating is 800. If you’re replacing it with an LED bulb, simply look for one with the same lumen rating of 800– which translates to an 8 to 12 watt LED. You’ll probably want to at least double that to 1600 lumens (100 watts incandescent, or 16 to 20 watts LED) in a work area.

Lighting by numbers is pretty straightforward. We’ve put together a room-by-room lighting chart with help from the Lighting Research Center and HouseLogic.com. Here are some suggested total lumens ranges for each of your home’s rooms:

Kitchens: 5,000-10,000
Dining Rooms: 3,000-6,000
Living Rooms: 1,500-3,000
Bedrooms: 2,000-4,000
Bathrooms: 4,000-8,000
Home Offices: 3,000-6,000


You may need bulbs ranging from 450 to 1600 lumens or more in a single room, depending on each bulb’s purpose within the room.

We’re throwing a lot of numbers at you but don’t worry. Getting the lighting right for each room in your home doesn’t need to be complicated. As you become more familiar with lumens, it will become easier to determine the brightness you’ll need.

In addition to suggested room-by-room lumens numbers, there suggested minimum lumens for specific areas of your home. Again, these numbers are from the Lighting Research Center, as found on HouseLogic.com.

Reading areas: 98
Closet: 381
Dressing: 1,680
Dining table: 315
Kitchen cutting counters: 360
Range: 450
Sink: 450
Toilet: 45
Vanity: 1,680
Outdoor entrance: 996
Paths: 297
Flower beds: 972
Stairs, entries, hallways: 1,200

Light Fixtures

If you don’t have enough light fixtures installed in some of the above areas, such as entrance areas and hallways, and stairs, you’re putting yourself and others in the house in danger. Don’t waste any time. Call us at Stapleton. We’ll install the necessary fixtures safely. But aside from the obvious danger zones that your home might have, comfort and general ambience are important. That’s why it’s helpful for you to understand brightness numbers.

Now that your mind has been “i-lumen-ated,” allow us to introduce another type of light measurement: Kelvin. Kelvins measure the “colour”a light produces. The higher the Kelvin (K) number, the cooler the light appears. For reference, a candle burns at 1,900K and sunlight is 10,000K.

Most bulbs will be in the 2,500K to 6,500K range — with 2,500 being the warmest and 6,500 the coolest. You’ll probably want to use not only different lumens of brightness but also different kelvins of “colour” for the rooms and spaces in your home.
The three primary types of colour temperature for light bulbs are:

  • Soft White (2700K – 3000K), best for giving a cozy feel to bedrooms and living rooms
  • Bright White/Cool White (3500K – 4100K), best for adding “energy” to kitchens, bathrooms or garages
  • Daylight (5000K – 6500K), best in bathrooms, kitchens and basements, as well as reading areas, work areas, and wherever the greatest contrast among colours is required

At Stapleton Electric, we’re here to help light up your home’s many rooms and spaces efficiently and safely, with all the right numbers in mind. There’s one more number you should know: our phone number. Call us at 778-985-9395. You can also message us on our website’s contact page for professional electrical expertise, advice, repair, and installation.