Energy 101: Lumens

Lumens and the Lighting Facts Label



When you’re shopping for lightbulbs, compare lumens to be sure you’re getting the amount of light, or level of brightness, you want. The Lighting Facts Label will help. This new label will make it easy to compare bulb brightness, color, life, and estimated operating cost for the year.


We typically buy things based on how much of it we get, right? When buying milk, we buy it by volume (gallons). So, why should light be any different? For decades, we have been buying lightbulbs based on how much energy they consume (watts) — no matter how much light they



Lumens measure how much light you are getting from a bulb. More lumens means it’s a brighter light; fewer lumens means it’s a dimmer light.

Lumens are to light what

  • Pounds are to bananas
  • Gallons are to milk
  • Lumens let you buy the amount of light you want. So when buying your new bulbs, think lumens, not watts.

The brightness, or lumen levels, of the lights in your home may vary widely, so here’s a rule of thumb:

  • To replace a 100 watt (W) incandescent bulb, look for a bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens. If you want something dimmer, go for less lumens; if you prefer brighter light, look for more lumens.
  • Replace a 75W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 1100 lumens
  • Replace a 60W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 800 lumens
  • Replace a 40W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 450 lumens.



To help consumers better understand the switch from watts to lumens, the Federal Trade Commission requires a new product label for lightbulbs. It helps people buy the lightbulbs that are right for them.

Like the helpful nutrition label on food products, the Lighting Facts label helps consumers understand what they are really purchasing. The label clearly provides the lumens — or brightness — of the bulb, the estimated operating cost for the year, and the color of the light (from warm/yellowish, to white to cool/blue).

This article is from the US Department of Energy and is Public Domain

Written by marshall





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