Prepare to Measure Home Light Bulbs in Lumens, Not Watts

FL1 Standards - LumensReplacing a burned-out light bulb might be a bit confusing for many U.S. residents this year. As the United States transitions from the once ubiquitous incandescent light bulb to more energy-efficient forms of lighting – such as LED bulbs – the Federal Trade Commission is changing the way light bulbs are labeled. Lumens will replace watts as the primary indicator of a bulb’s brightness, which means consumers will need to relearn how to shop for replacement bulbs.

To prepare for the incandescent phase-out, the FTC has worked with manufacturers of LED lights and other types of lighting to develop a label that will allow consumers to easily compare different types of bulbs. Resembling the nutrition labels on food products, the new light bulb labels will include information such as:

  • Brightness (in lumens)
  • Estimated yearly energy cost
  • Estimated life expectancy of the bulb
  • Color and appearance of the light produced
  • Energy used (in watts)

Why Lumens Instead of Watts?

Watts measure a bulb’s energy consumption, whereas lumens measure its actual light output, or brightness. When incandescent bulbs were the standard, consumers became accustomed to gauging a bulb’s light output by the amount of energy it produced. As more energy-efficient options such as LED light bulbs are becoming widely used, however, watts are no longer a reliable measurement of a bulb’s brightness.

To get a rough idea of how many lumens to look for in the newer LED bulbs and other energy-efficient options, here’s a look at the how many lumens are produced by incandescent bulbs with common wattages:

  • 40 watts = 450 lumens
  • 60 watts = 800 lumens
  • 100 watts = 1600 lumens

So, for example, if you’re looking for LED light bulbs that are equivalent to 60-watt incandescent bulbs, look for those that produce 800 lumens.

Why Use LED Bulbs?

Here are some of the advantages of using LED lights in the home:

Cost: LED bulbs can operate for up to 11 years continuously, versus an incandescent bulb that lasts only 5,000 hours. This means you won’t need to buy as many replacement bulbs in the long run. Additionally, because LED lights use far less energy to produce the same amount of illumination, homeowners often see immediate savings in their energy bills.

Fixtures: You can find LED bulbs to fit most fixtures in your home, from recessed lights to floor and table lamps to outdoor fixtures.

Colors: It’s a common misconception that LED lights only come in bluish or cool hues. In truth, LED light bulbs are available in a wide range of colors, from cool to warm.

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