LED stands for light emitting diode. LEDs use a semiconductor to convert electricity into a light source. LED lights are more efficient than incandescent light bulbs because they require less watts to produce the same amount of brightness as standard incandescent bulbs.

LED bulbs save money because they use at least 75% less energy than incandescent lighting and last a minimum of 15,000 hours, or 15 years based on average household use. This life span is about 15 to 20 times longer than incandescent lighting, and about three times longer than CFLs.

There are two common specifications mentioned when shopping for LED lightbulbs:

  • Lumens: a measurement of total light output, or brightness, of the bulb. If you want something dimmer, go for less lumens; if you prefer brighter light, look for more lumens.
  • Watts: a measurement of power consumption.

When purchasing LED bulbs, you will want to focus on lumens, not watts. With traditional incandescent light bulbs, typically the higher the wattage, the brighter the light. This is different with LED bulbs, as they consume far less wattage. Here is a simple guide for comparing watts to lumens:

  • To replace a 100 watt (W) incandescent bulb, look for a bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens.
  • Replace a 75W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 1100 lumens.
  • Replace a 60W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 800 lumens.
  • Replace a 40W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 450 lumens.

Learn more about LEDs with Natural Resources Canada and BC Hydro.

Did you see a building science or energy efficiency term you did not understand? Check out our glossary.