About Watts and Lighting

Image of light bulb array

Lighting Options: Yesterday and Today

When Thomas Edison introduced the incandescent light bulb to the world, he said, “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.”

Early Lighting Options

Edison’s words were prophetic, but electricity was still pretty expensive when it first became available. The first light bulbs were available to the public in 1881. In that year, a single light bulb cost $1, which equates to about $25 today. By 1910, the cost of a single light bulb had dropped to 17 cents.

It took a while for electricity to become cheap enough to for almost every home, and here in the state of Virginia, we were not fully electrified until after World War II. In those days, the incandescent bulb was the only choice people had.

How Bright Were Those Bulbs?

Those early bulbs emitted brightness that would be equivalent to today’s 60-watt incandescent bulbs.

They were also warmer in color temperature. The warm tone led to lighting that was distinctly orange or amber in tone. Since it was fashionable to use amber-colored glass in lighting fixtures, most rooms would be bathed in a lighting scheme equivalent to a sunset. That may have been relaxing and even romantic, but it probably wasn’t great for doing focused work.

Today’s Choices

Today, homeowners have a lot of choices when it comes to light bulb types, amount of illumination and the temperature of the light they use. You can choose from these to create lighting that works for you while being highly energy-efficient. It’s a win-win for consumers that keeps getting better as lighting technology advances.


Image of holiday lights


Choose the Right Lighting Level

Would you like to feel more focused in your workspace and more relaxed when you’re chilling out watching TV? The right lighting can help you do both. The right mix of bulbs can improve your mood, help you work and see colors clearly. Here’s how to choose the bulbs that will light up your life.

Two Key Factors

When it comes to choosing the right lighting for each room in your house, you need to take two factors into account:

  • The amount of illumination, which is measured in wattage or lumens.
  • The level of warmth in the light.

What Are Watts and Lumens?

The wattage of a light bulb doesn’t refer to the amount of light it creates. It actually refers to the amount of energy it takes to produce the light. Brightness is measured in lumens.

When you purchase a CFL or LED bulb, you should look for the levels of lumens the bulb produces.

Keep Your Cool–Or Your Warmth

Lighting is either warm or cool. Levels of warmth are measured using the Kelvin scale or K. Warm light has slight yellow tones. It’s great for adding a relaxing, comfortable feeling. Cool light has blue tones and is good for focused work.

Bulbs can range from 2700K, the warmest light, to 6500K which is the coolest, brightest light. Bulbs that measure 6500K are considered the closest to true daylight.


electricity measure guide from SESCOS Leesburg based Electricians


Energy and Efficiency

A high-wattage light bulb produces more lumens, meaning brighter light, and uses more energy.

New, more energy-efficient bulb types like CFLs and LEDs use less energy to produce the same amount of light.

As an example, consider that direct sunlight produces about 100,000 lumens. A 40-watt bulb produces about 400 lumens while using 40 watts of energy, while a 100-watt bulb produces about 1700 lumens using 100 watts.

Choose the Right Bulbs

If this all sounds like too many options to take in, here are some simple guidelines.

  • If you need lighting that helps you stay focused and alert, choose bulbs with high lumen levels and cooler light temperatures.
  • If you want to create a warm, welcoming environment, select bulbs with lower lumen levels and warmer temperatures.
  • If you need to show colors clearly, choose bulbs that mimic direct sunlight.

For the most inviting ambiance, your home should have a mix of lights for different tasks, areas, and events.

SESCOS Can Help With All Your Lighting Needs

The history of electricity is fascinating, and electrical power is a big part of Northern Virginia’s growth and prosperity. At SESCOS, we’re proud to have helped power that growth for over 50 years. We’re still here and still ready to help with all your lighting needs.

24/Hour Emergency Electricians | 703-777-6200