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Because You Asked

Can I Get Warm Lighting with LED Bulbs?

By Recyclebank |

Warm lighting from LEDs is possible. Just make sure you look for the right measures of brightness and warmth.

Dear Recyclebank,


I'd be glad to switch to LED bulbs if I could easily duplicate the warm feeling of old-fashioned incandescent bulbs AND if packaging would tell me what equals the former 60-, 75-, and 100-watt bulbs. Help?

-Sandra B.


Dear Sandra,


It’s great that you’re ready to make the switch from the old incandescent bulbs to the more energy-efficient LED bulbs. LED light bulbs use even less energy than the popular CFL (compact fluorescent lighting) bulbs, are mercury-free, and produce color closer to incandescents. While LED bulbs are pricier than incandescent bulbs and CFLs, they can last up to an impressive 15-20 years, resulting in energy bill savings in the long run. And you don’t have to sacrifice on lighting quality with LEDs, as modern bulbs can produce lighting similar to incandescent bulbs.


When looking to replace your incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs, comparing watts is a bit misleading and not useful across different bulb types. That’s because watts are a measurement of energy used, not necessarily the brightness of the bulb. For incandescent bulbs, comparing watts makes sense since the more energy the bulb uses, the brighter the bulb (a 100 watt bulb is brighter than a 60 watt bulb). But for LEDs, which use significantly lower energy (lower wattage) for the same brightness, checking lumens, the real measurement of brightness, is recommended.


CNET created a handy reference chart that shows the approximate lumens/watts equivalent between incandescent bulbs and LEDs. For example, a LED bulb that uses 16-20 watts of energy and produces 1,600 lumens of brightness is equivalent to a 100-watt incandescent bulb (the incandescent bulb uses 100 watts of energy to produce 1,600 lumens of brightness). So start checking for lumens instead of watts on LED lighting labels to compare for brightness.


To get the warm, yellow hue of incandescent bulbs in an LED bulb, look for "warm white" or "soft white” on the label. Light color (also known as “color temperature”) is measured in kelvins, and the lower the number, the warmer (more yellow) the light, while a higher number equals a cooler, white light. Bulbs measuring 3,000K and below will give off that warm light you get from incandescent bulbs. Westinghouse breaks down light color and kelvins with reference pictures and an easy chart.


If cost is an issue and you’re not ready to replace every bulb in your house, consider upgrading to an LED bulb one fixture or one room at a time, when your incandescent bulbs burn out. Because LED bulbs last for many years, they’re great for outdoor lighting and hard to reach places like high ceilings, where you won’t have to replace bulbs for a very long time.


So the next time you want to make the switch from incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs while keeping the same warm lighting, check the packaging for lumens (brightness) and kelvins (light color), rather than watts.



The Verge
Scientific American
The Simple Dollar

Have you made the switch to LED bulbs yet? In the comments below, share your advice on how you did it!

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  • Marc C. 2 years ago
    Sorry, but I am hating these new obnoxious, overly-bright VERY white LED porch lights that people are switching to! The blinding light gives me a headache, & it hurst my eyes! ... So I just try to not even look at their houses. I know it's to save energy, & money, & it's brighter for safety, but at the same time, they are ugly as hell. It makes some people's house look more like the entrance of a 7-Eleven ; ) I always prefer the 'warmer' shade, vs the ugly overly-white 'cool' shade, yuck!
  • Clovia D. 5 years ago
    Switching to LEDs do cut down on our "footprint"! I have been aware since living in New England and now remarried and living in PA, have taught my now larger family quite a bit about how habits effect the big picture.
  • Vivian B. 5 years ago
    Thanks for sharing the info on how to pick an LED for warm lighting. I'm converting my lights as the incandescents burn out S.B.
  • M H. 5 years ago
    I just switched to LED bulbs from ordinary light bulbs this week.
  • Pete G. 5 years ago
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