The right light: lumens vs. watts

Updated Oct 24, 2013

What is the wattage output on your headlights?

How about candlepower?

Do you know? Do you care? And does it even matter?

According to our sister site, ProPickup, the number of the light’s output doesn’t matter as much as how precisely the light’s output is focused. 

Watts is only a measurement of current draw (Volts x Amps= Watts); it’s the automotive equivalent of how many gallons of fuel-per-hour an engine uses – not the miles-per-gallon the engine in the pickup delivers driving down the road. For example, a 100-watt HID driving light is far more effective lighting up the road than a single 100-watt light bulb sitting on the bumper.

Candlepower (aka candela) is an antiquated measurement of light output at the source (radiance) and has nothing to do with how that light illuminates an object.

The terminology you need to familiarize yourself with is “lumens.”

Lumens is a true measurement of a light’s efficiency at lighting up an object at a specified distance and is the world standard for light comparisons.

The higher the lumens, the more useable light being produced. So, according to ProPickup, when you find auxiliary lights to fit your needs that consume the same or less power, have similar design qualities, and deliver a higher lumen output than a comparable model, you know which to buy.