CFL and LED lightbulbs are sold as being "40/60/100 watt equivalent". They're designed and sold as replacements for a certain wattage of incandescent lamp.

I have some fixtures where I want a very bright bulb. Since CFLs and LEDs can get more light out of less wattage it seems to me that an actual 40W draw CFL or LED that would be significantly brighter than a 40W incandescent.

Does such a super-CFL or super-LED lamp exist?

  • I think a CFL that actually draws 40W, would be equivalent to a 150W incandescent bulb (>2600 lumens). Not sure you'll find anything brighter, or even a CFL that bright for that matter.
    – Tester101
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 14:01
  • 2
    Just a note that because CFLs have a power factor of around 0.5, a 40W CFL will draw about twice as much current as a 40W incandescent bulb. Your fixture may not be rated to handle this.
    – Joel Keene
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 20:45
  • @Tester101 comment helped me discover the right search pattern. It seems to be expressed as "X-watt (Y-watt replacement)" at a major online retailer. The bulbs to avoid for my use case are ones which are "40-watt equivalent"
    – Freiheit
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 17:23
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    an LED that consumes 60 watts will blind you. that would be the equivalent to 600-700 watts that an incandescent light would produce.
    – SkipBerne
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 13:16
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    @SkipBerne - Yep, be aware what you ask for, you can get a permanent retinal burn off an 8 watt LED array. Wattage is no longer the true measure but lumens. Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 16:19

2 Answers 2


Yes, you're looking for lights with a high lumen output. Since LED/CFL bulbs don't convert heat to light, the wattage isn't directly proportional to the light output. As an extreme example, consider that a 2 watt laser is powerful enough to burn some materials, or blind you!

What you'll likely find is that more expensive LED bulbs from lighting specialty stores are brighter than the cheap bulbs you find at your local home improvement store.

There are other characteristics of the bulb other than power which impact the perceived brightness - reflectors are a good example. A bulb with a wide spread will seem less bright (in a room) than a bulb with a narrow spread since the light is being diffused more.

  • 2
    All lamps have inefficiency and will produce heat. Incandescent, halogen, CFL, and LED bulbs convert 98%, 97%, 91%, 88% of their electric consumption into heat, respectively. An ideal (no heat) "60 watt" / 800 lumen bulb would consume only about 1 watt of electricity.
    – Hank
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 18:22
  • ...sorry I thought you said "LED/CFL bulbs don't create heat". My comment isn't really relevant in light of what you actually said!
    – Hank
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 18:26
  • I meant that they are not heating a filament to produce light...
    – Steven
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 18:37
  • A low-wattage laser can burn you because those the energy is focused into such a small area. I don't see how that's relevant to the wattage of LED/CFL bulbs at all. Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 19:31
  • if you capture all the light AND heat from a 2-watt bulb and focus it to a small point it would burn, too
    – Skaperen
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 12:16

Sure there are. Here's a 45-watter:

enter image description here

and that's what you get when you open the box:

enter image description here

They're not even specialty items (although that depends on where you live. I moved to Amsterdam a while ago and here I just can't find anything over 20W, except for the elongated T4/T5 tubes).

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