May 23 2019
Your old incandescent has gone out and you decided to replace it with an LED bulb. You screw it in, turn it on, and… gahhh! While blinking away the spots in front of your eyes, you realize something: this LED bulb is too bright! But it was the same wattage equivalency as your old bulb, so why is it so much brighter?
Perception is everything
The light that can be seen by the human eye is called the visible spectrum. It is measured in wavelengths and falls between 380 and 760 nanometers. On both sides of the visible spectrum are ultraviolet and infrared rays, both of which are invisible to us. Incandescent and LED bulbs emit very different spectra. The chart below shows the general incandescent spectrum:
JPG light spectrum by source_1kb-diagram
When the light source is working, some of the energy is burned as the heat changes to infrared light. By looking at the image above, the incandescent lamp rises along a very smooth curve. Its strongest light is toward the red end of the visible spectrum. As light approaches the end of what we can perceive, most of its energy (up to 90%) is burned off, making it invisible. Now let's take a look at LED bulbs:
Notice the difference in the delivery light. Designed to target the visible spectrum, LED lights have their highest peaks in the middle. Because leds also generate less heat, they do not lose as much light as possible in the infrared. That means leds look brighter than incandescent bulbs because they produce more light that the human eye can see.
However, keep in mind that true light output is measured in lumens. That's why it's best to look at lumens when considering which bulb to choose. Sometimes the LED can list an equivalent value with a certain wattage, but the lumen output will be different and exceed the average lumen of the light source it simulates. Using only the same wattage may cause you to choose lights that are too bright to achieve the desired purpose. To give you an idea of standard output, the following table shows the average lumens per wattage of each bulb:
6 to 9 watts
8 to 12 watts
75 - watt
9 to 13
16 to 20 watts
150 - watt
From 25 to 28
Kelvin (the color of light) can also change the perceived brightness. Kelvin ranges in color from orange, about 2,200 kelvin, to blue (6,500 kelvin, simulating daylight). The standard incandescent bulb is usually about 2,700 kelvin and gives off the warm light you're accustomed to. Leds with the same color and moderate lumen will have a similar glow but still be brighter. If you replace the 2700K incandescent light bulb with a 4000K, you will go from pale yellow to bright white. Big jumps like this are obvious and look intense.
Cut brightness hint
Although the light looks bright at first, you will adjust it. If lighting really bothers you, there are several ways to reduce the brightness. If your bulbs are dimmable, you can pair them with a compatible dimmer switch. We offer a variety of wall dimmer switches for plug - in dimmers for table lamps. Lampshades are also a useful tool for reducing brightness by redirecting light to a room. If your ceiling light is too bright, replace the transparent lid and globe to soften the light with a frosted shell. Frosted lenses help diffuse light to more tolerable levels, reducing glare on glossy surfaces like countertops and tables, while still looking good. You can also buy light bulbs with frosted glass. This is especially useful for decorative lighting, such as chandeliers and wall lamps with exposed bulbs.
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