Are LEDs bright enough?

We’re often asked by customers that are thinking of upgrading to LEDs in their home or business –

If I upgrade to LEDs will they be bright enough?

For the purposes of this article, we’ll use downlights as an example.

The brightness of a globe (or bulb) is measured in lumens. In typical Australian homes, most residents opt for a warm, inviting glow. A brightness that’s not oppressive and dark and not harsh by being too bright. The type of lights the home needs will depend on the room; the height of the ceiling, the number of lights in the room and what the room is used for – ie. you might want a bright kitchen, but an ambient, darker living room.


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“A ‘lumen’ is a unit of measurement used to define the amount of visible light emitted from a source, like a lightbulb. The higher the lumen ouput, the brighter the bulb. There’s a long and complex explanation about how lumens are calculated here if you want more information. But to summarise: lumens are how bright a light is.” source

For downlights, you typically have 1 downlight per 1.4m2 of coverage for an average roof height and in most homes the lumens (or brightness levels) are 500-600 lumens. This provides a comfortable glow and means you can use a small number of downlights complimented by a primary lighting source, or you can exclusively light a room with downlights and have a larger number.

The beauty of upgrading to LEDs means that your light fittings will use fewer watts to generate light, but the globes can supply the same level of brightness (lumens). Before LEDs you would need to increase the level of wattage in a globe in order to increase the brightness; now that’s no longer necessary.

For example – our MR16s require 6 watts and supply 520 lumens. If you compare this to an old halogen globe that uses 30 watts and supplies 500-600 lumens, you dramatically reduce your energy consumption for that fitting but supply the same brightness.

We often hear feedback from customers that they’re surprised by how bright their home is after an upgrade. There is a very simple reason for this – halogen downlights dim over time. It’s gradual and slow, so it’s not noticeable, but they dull as they age, so an upgrade to LED can be very noticeable straight away. What’s crazy is the halogen lights were using the same amount of energy as when they were first installed and they stop supplying the same level of brightness – but you’re still paying the same bills – you might even be paying more by switching on additional lamps to increase the brightness in a room.

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A helpful reminder on the lifespan of residential globes

  • LED: 25,000 – 50,000 hours
  • CFL: 8,000 – 15,000 hours
  • Halogen: 1,000 – 5,000 hours
  • Incandescent: 1,000 hours


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