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Lumens are the measure of light output for a given bulb, and you may have noticed that this number is often higher for fluorescent tubes than LED, leading you to wonder if LED tubes put out enough light to be worth switching over. After all, who wants to replace good lights with dimmer ones? Lumens, however, aren't the whole story.

Light Output vs. Light Perception

In fact, lumens are a lot like "perceived temperature," that phenomenon where 60 degrees feels more comfortable in a room with furniture, carpets, and curtains than it does in an empty, bare-floored, bare-windowed space. Which is to say that how much light you perceive vs. how many lumens the bulb is putting out is relative. Here's how:

With fluorescent tubes, light shines through the entire circumference of the bulb. They have what's called a 360? beam angle. Because of this, as much as a third of their light shines up, into the fixture, where it's not doing you a lot of good unless your fixture happens to be mirrored. (In which case, you've probably got a lot of glare up there.)

Most LED tubes, on the other hand, have a 120? or 150? beam angle. The backsides of LED chips don't illuminate (and the driver is installed behind them). All the light from an LED tube is focused toward the area you're illuminating, with none of it wasted.

If you subtract a third of the rated lumens on a fluorescent tube, this brings you right in the ballpark of standard-lumen LED tubes—2950 lumens, for example, comes down to 1947. High-lumen tubes give you even brighter light, from where you'll be standing, than a fluorescent tube, even though the fluorescent is still "rated" higher.

Lumen Comparisons

This excerpt from Kent Diego's video review shows three 8' LED tubes—standard lumen, high lumen, and ultra-high lumen—compared to the fluorescent bulbs they're replacing. As you can see, LED tubes put out plenty of light.

Resources carries a selection of 2ft, 4ft, and 8ft T8 LED tubes that will work with both T8 and T12 fluorescent fixtures. We offer both retrofit LED fluorescent replacement tubes (simply rewire your fixture to bypass the ballast) and ballast-compatible LED tubes that just need to be swapped out for your existing fluorescents. 3-year warranty for 8-foot tubes; 5-year for all others. Upgrade today to significantly reduce your power bills—and enjoy not having to change a light again for years!