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Thread: Same Watt bulbs differ in lumens for different voltage?

  1. #1
    Enlightened Neondiod's Avatar
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    Default Same Watt bulbs differ in lumens for different voltage?

    Hello CPF!

    I've search the forum and read it quite a lot but never get to answer this question: Why do the same Watt incan bulbs have different lumen output for different voltages?

    Ex 1 : A 20W 12V G4 bulb is rated 290 lumen, but a 25W 230V G9 bulb is only rated 190 lumen.

    Ex 2: A 100W E27 120V bulb has higher rated lumens then a 100W E27 230V bulb.

    Thanx in andvanced, great forum.
    Last edited by Neondiod; 07-01-2009 at 05:16 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Same Watt bulbs differ in lumens for different voltage?

    Different manufacturers... no UL regulating what they put on the box... different housing design...

  3. #3
    Enlightened Neondiod's Avatar
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    Default Re: Same Watt bulbs differ in lumens for different voltage?

    Quote Originally Posted by holiday light express View Post
    Different manufacturers... no UL regulating what they put on the box... different housing design...
    Same manufacturer ofcourse. But a G4 and a G9 housing is quite a differ on the housing and the filament is totally differ and that's maybe why the light output is less with the higher voltage bulb?

    Infact a 100W 230V bulb draw 0,44A and hence shall the filament give a resistens of 525 ohm. Where a 100W 12V bulb draw 8,3A and the filament is only 1,45 oms resistens. The low resistens filament is smaller and maybe better material and hence more effective.
    Last edited by Neondiod; 08-27-2009 at 06:06 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Same Watt bulbs differ in lumens for different voltage?

    Quote Originally Posted by holiday light express View Post
    Different manufacturers... no UL regulating what they put on the box... different housing design...
    That is incorrect.

    A 75A/CL/130V lamp listed in OSI catalog as such:

    @ 130V = 750 hours, 1190 lumens

    Same lamp:

    @ 120V = 910 Lumens, at 1875 hours (approx. 66 Watts).


    This is due to filament resistance.

  5. #5
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: Same Watt bulbs differ in lumens for different voltage?

    Yes Neon i notice this same wattage vs voltage thing. Even automotive head lamp halogen H4 low beam the legal wattage is 55W but for trucks 24V H4 the wattage is 70w with both almost have the same lumens.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Same Watt bulbs differ in lumens for different voltage?

    Quote Originally Posted by Neondiod View Post
    I've search the forum and read it quite a lot but never get to answer this question: Why do the same Watt incan bulbs have different lumen output for different voltages? 230V 120V
    Actually there is something to this.

    An incandescent filament will have a different thickness and total length, depending on the wattage and intended life time. Of course, voltage will change these specifications.

    Wattage, for any given voltage, is determined by resistance. A thicker shorter filament with have lower resistance. If the filament is designed to be thicker, to keep the wattage constant it must also be a longer length. This increases the lifetime for two reasons. The filament is thicker so the evaporation of the tungsten takes a longer time to cause a defect, and the filament also operates at a slightly lower temperature because the heat is being emitted over a wider area. The lower temperature also makes the light more orangish. Obviously, for any given wattage, a higher temperature filament will give off more light.

    If we look at Ohm's law, current = voltage divided by resistance (in ohms).
    And voltage multiplied by current = watts.
    So another formula to express this is W = V2 / R
    (wattage equals voltage squared divided by ohms)

    You can use an ohm meter on a common incandescent light bulb and make a close approximation of the bulb's wattage, if you factor in the voltage it will run on when turned on. We also have to remember that a hot glowing tungsten filament has a resistance value about 15 times higher than a cold filament.

    Filaments that run on lower voltages can be thicker, so they can have longer lifetimes, or stated in another way, they can operate at a higher temperature for any given lifetime.

    This is why the higher color temperature halogen bulbs in museum galleries usually run on low voltage.
    (there is of course a practical limit to how low the voltage can go, at some point, 6-12V, there will be considerable resistance loses in the wires used to bring the current to the filament, not to mention voltage drop, and also with very short filaments there will begin to be significant conductive heat loss to the filament scaffold)

    That being said, the design of the bulb has much to do with it also. In Europe, the 230 volt medium base replacement halogen bulbs are generally rated for 2000 hours, whereas in America the 120 volt replacement halogens are mostly rated for 1000 hours. Of course, the 1000 hour American bulbs put out significantly more light and are much more whitish.
    Last edited by Anders Hoveland; 05-16-2013 at 11:53 AM.

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