Lumens by Room: How to Choose the Right LEDs for Your Home

Lighting is more than just a facet of home decor. It can directly impact your mood, health, sleep patterns and ability to concentrate. This means that the way you light your home needs more careful consideration than what color the lampshade is or whether to choose a pendant or chandelier light fixture.

With the recent revolution in the light bulb aisle, choosing the right light for your room has become increasingly complicated. The long-lasting, energy-efficient LED bulbs now dominate, but they bring with them confusion for those of us used to choosing our lighting based on watts. From lumens to kelvins, bright white to warm white, there are now many more decisions to be made when buying a light bulb—this infographic explains the basics of shopping for LEDs. On the positive side, all of these choices add up to better lighting options. Here, we’ll look at how to choose the right LED lighting for each room of your house.

There are three elements you need to consider when choosing lighting for your rooms: function, brightness and color. Let’s take a closer look at each.

1. Function

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Choosing a function for the lighting in your room is as simple as answering the question: What do you want the light to do? There are three main ways lighting can enhance what you use a room for.

  •   Ambient Lighting

This is general lighting, normally overhead and diffused. This includes track lighting, recessed can lighting or a large light fixture such as a chandelier.

  •   Task Lighting

This brightens a small area and is always brighter than the ambient lighting. It helps you perform specific “tasks”—for example, a reading lamp by a bed or a low overhead light with a bright bulb above a kitchen counter.

  •   Accent Lighting

This provides a highlight for a feature of the room, such as a painting, houseplant or piece of furniture. It can also be applied to a ceiling or wall. It is often a strong light that casts a shadow for dramatic effect and sometimes employs color.

2. Brightness

The light of LED bulbs is measured by their lumen output. While you’ll see a wattage number on the packaging, it’s not relevant, because LEDs do not use electricity to generate brightness. Instead, use the below chart to help you transition from watts to lumens. Then chose the brightness you need depending on the function the bulb will serve.

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3. Color

While you can buy color-changing LED bulbs, the color we’re referring to here is the more general “white” of LED bulbs, it’s “appearance.” Traditionally LEDs gave off a harsh blueish tone, which was very off-putting. But advances in technology mean that LED bulbs now come in a wide variety of “whites,” also known as color temperature. This is measured in kelvins. The higher the number, the cooler the light.

Kelvins run from the brightest light, daylight, to warm, cozy more traditional light.

  •   Daylight (4,600 K to 6,500 K) is strong with a slight blue hint. It works well as ambient light in multi-use rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens. It also works well in task lighting for any room.
  •   Cool Light (3,000 K to 4,500 K), also known as bright white, is also good for these general use rooms. You’d opt for cool over daylight if you want a slightly softer, less blue-ish look.
  •   Warm Light (2,000 K to 3,000 K), also known as soft white, is the traditional light for your home, giving a more orange or yellow glow. It is good for living rooms and bedrooms.

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Lighting by Room

Now you know the function, brightness and color, here’s now you can apply it to each room in your house.

The Kitchen

  •   Function: Task-heavy
  •   Brightness: 5,000 to 10,000 lumens
  •   Color: Bold, bright daylight, 4,600 to 6,500 kelvins

Bathrooms

  •   Function: Task-heavy
  •   Brightness: 4,000 to 8,000 lumens
  •   Color: Bright daylight, 4,000 to 6,500 kelvins

Dining Room

  •   Function: Entertaining, task-focused
  •   Brightness: 3,000 to 6,000 lumens
  •   Color: Cool, balanced light, 3,000 to 5,500 kelvins

Home Office

  •   Function: Task-heavy
  •   Brightness: 3,000 to 6,000 lumens
  •   Color: Cool, invigorating light, 4,000 to 5,500 kelvins

Living Room

  •   Function: Entertaining, relaxing
  •   Brightness: 1,500 to 3,000 lumens
  •   Color: Warm, comfortable light, 2,000 to 4,000 kelvins

Bedrooms

  •   Function: Unwinding, energizing
  •   Brightness: 2,000 to 4,000 lumens
  •   Color: Warm, cozy light, 2,700 to 3,500 kelvins

Optimizing the lighting in each room in your home will not only make it look and feel more inviting, but it will help you perform your everyday tasks with more energy, or relax and unwind more easily at the end of the day.

Jennifer Tuohy writes about cool new technology for The Home Depot.  She provides useful information to help you make informed buying decisions on products like LED light bulbs and home automation. To see more of the LED options that Jennifer talks about in this article, visit here.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Tuohy

62 comments

Paula A
Paula A3 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S1 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Roberto MARINI
Roberto MARINI1 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Carl R
Carl R1 years ago

Thanks!!!

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Sonia M

Interesting and useful post,thanks for sharing

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Jenny G
Jenny G1 years ago

Thank you! The article was very helpful! I have some old lights that need changing/modernising in the near future.

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Carl R
Carl R1 years ago

Thanks!!!

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Peggy B
Peggy B1 years ago

I agree it affects the mood.

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heather g
heather g1 years ago

For more than half the year, we have grey skies - Therefore, I like as much light as possible and I do use LEDs.

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