Ask Ashley: Lumens and Kelvins

Q: When remodeling our home we selected a light fixture for over our dining room table. It is a barrel type with six candelabra bulbs. I need it to emit more light and for the light to be cool, not yellow. I’ve tried two different sets of bulbs. One was LED with these yellow lines in the bulb. It caused the light to be very yellow.

The other set made it look like florescence lighting. Neither put out enough light.

Each bulb is approximately $9. I am still not happy with the amount of light or the color of the light.  What do you recommend?



A: Hi Carol!

It seems you’re facing issues of both color brightness and color appearance in selecting your candelabra light bulbs. The back of the box the bulbs came in provides very useful information on both.

Brightness of a lightbulb is measured in lumens. An LED candelabra bulb that rated at 500 lumens should produce as much light as a standard 60W incandescent candelabra bulb. As candelabra chandeliers are not designed to be extremely bright, 500 lumens are probably highest light output you’ll be able to find in a candelabra bulb.

[Side note: A standard incandescent 60W bulb will produce closer to 800 lumens. Candelabra bulbs are designed to produce less light so tend to have significantly lower lumen outputs at the same wattage. A 60W incandescent candelabra bulb would produce only about 500 lumens in comparison.]

Color and light appearance is measured in Kelvins or K. Warmer colored light with more reds and yellows is lower on the Kelvin scale while cooler colored light with more blue is higher on the scale. Vintage style bulbs where are the filament is visible through the glass tend have a very warm yellow look that is somewhere between 2200K and 2700K. For comparison, daylight white is usually about 5000K, halogens are 3000K, and an incandescent or ‘soft white’ look is 2700K. If the bulbs you’re using is too yellow consider a bulb higher on the Kelvin scale, at 2700K or above.

Another suggestion would be to look at the bulbs around your home and find one that has a quality of light you prefer. Written on the bulb should be information on both lumen output and warmth on the kelvin scale. Candelabra bulbs with similar qualities should produce similar light.

Hope that helps! Thanks for your question, Carol!


Ashley Main

WGW Lighting Designer

1 comment

Ben b

Bulbrite Make a xenon/krypton candelabra base bulb that offers 980 lm

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