Lumens and the Lighting Facts label





Learning about lumens is a bright idea!

Buy Lumens, Not Watts

Light bulbs are getting better. Newer bulbs — like halogen, NEWER incandescent, CFLs and LEDs — last longer and use less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, saving you money on your energy bills. In fact, beginning in 2012, everyday light bulbs have to meet new Department of Energy standards for how much energy they use. Bulbs that don't will be phased out over the next couple of years.

Along with this move to more efficient bulbs comes a new way to shop for them.

For years, people have chosen light bulbs by the watt, learning over time about how bright a typical 40-watt or 60-watt bulb is. But wattage tells you only how much energy a bulb uses — not how bright it is. With newer light bulbs designed to use less energy, wattage is no longer a reliable way to gauge a light bulb's brightness. That takes lumens.

Lumens measure brightness. A standard 60-watt incandescent bulb, for example, produces about 800 lumens of light. By comparison, a CFL bulb produces that same 800 lumens using less than 15 watts.


How Bright a Light?

This chart shows the number of lumens produced by common incandescent bulbs. If you're looking to buy a bulb that will give you the amount of light you used to get from a 60-watt bulb, you'll now look for 800 lumens.

You can use lumens to compare the brightness of any bulb, regardless of the technology behind it, and regardless of whether it's a halogen incandescent, CFL or LED. Using lumens helps you compare "apples to apples" when you shop for light bulbs. Once you know how bright a bulb you want, you can compare other factors, like the yearly energy cost.

When you shop for light bulbs, you'll also want to think about light appearance, or color temperature. Light appearance ranges from warm to cool. Warmer light looks more yellow, like the light from a traditional incandescent bulb, cooler light appears more blue.

To find out the light appearance of a light bulb, look at the Lighting Facts label on the package. The Lighting Facts label gives you information you need to compare different bulbs. It tells you

  • Brightness (in lumens)
  • Yearly estimated energy cost
  • Expected bulb life (in years)
  • Light appearance (how warm or cool the light will look)
  • Wattage (the energy used)
  • If the bulb contains mercury

The label may include the Energy Star logo if the bulb meets the energy efficiency and performance standards of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy's Energy Star program. For more on Energy Star standards, visit

The ENERGY STAR Choose A Light Guide

  • Just like when you purchased traditional bulbs, you need to think about the style that fits in the fixture. For example, recessed cans require different bulbs than floor and table lamps
  • You should also be aware of where you place bulbs in and around the house. Be careful when putting bulbs in areas where kids play around and can easily knock them over. Additionally, there are varied options for outdoor versus indoor lights.Lighting Facts labels will be on most everyday household light bulbs starting in 2012.

What do the FTC and DOE Lighting Facts labels look like

DOE and the FTC have worked closely throughout this process and are both committed to assuring that products perform as claimed. The FTC label is primarily a consumer label, and therefore does not conflict with the DOE label...

DOE Lighting Facts Label


FTC Lighting Facts Label


The new labeling requirements become effective one year from the date they are issued.

On the Bulb

The number of lumens will be printed on the bulb. If the bulb is a CFL, it may be on the bulb's base. CFLs also will include a web address,, for information on safe recycling and disposal. CFLs contain mercury, so cleanup and disposal require some care and attention.

Similar standards will phase in for other types of light bulbs over the next three years. Traditional 75 watt incandescent light bulbs will no longer be available as of January 1, 2013. Traditional 40 and 60 watt incandescent light bulbs will no longer be available as of January 1, 2014.

Exemptions: There are 22 types of traditional incandescent lamps that are exempt. DOE will monitor sales of these exempted lamp types after the legislation is implemented. If it is determined that of any one of these exempted lamp types doubles in sales, EISA requires DOE to establish an energy conservation standard for the particular lamp type. This provision will prohibit any one of these exempted lamp types from taking market share from the general service lamps that are affected by the EISA efficiency standards.

  • Appliance lamp
  • Black light lamp
  • Bug lamp
  • Colored lamp
  • Infrared lamp
  • Left-hand thread lamp
  • Marine lamp
  • Marine's signal service lamp
  • Mine service lamp
  • Plant light lamp
  • Reflector lamp
  • Rough service lamp
  • Shatter-resistant lamp (including shatter-proof & shatter-protected)
  • Sign service lamp
  • Silver bowl lamp
  • Showcase lamp
  • 3-way incandescent lamp
  • Traffic signal lamp
  • Vibration service lamp
  • G shape lamp (as defined in ANSI C78.20-2003 and C79.1-2002) with a diameter of 5" or more
  • T shape lamp (as defined in ANSI C78.20-2003 and C79.1-2002) and that uses no more than 40W or has a length of more than 10"
  • B, BA, CA, F, G16-1/2, G-25, G-30, S, or M-14 lamp (as defined in ANSI C78.20-2003 and C79.1-2002) of 40W or less

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 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.

Governments from all over the world have passed measures to phase out incandescent light bulbs due to environmental reasons. The aim is to encourage use of more energy efficient lighting alternatives, such as compact fluorescent lamp (CFLs) and LED lamps.


Starting in 2009, Switzerland banned the sale of all light bulbs of the Energy Efficiency Class F and G, which affects a few types of incandescent light bulbs. Most normal light bulbs are of Energy Efficiency Class E, and the Swiss regulation has exceptions for various kinds of special purpose and decorative bulbs.

For European Union agreed to a phasing out of incandescent light bulbs by 2012. It is up to the government of each member state on how to accomplish the eventual elimination. For example Italy will accomplish this through a ban on their sale of incandescent by 2010, while the United Kingdom has enlisted the help of retailers with a voluntary, stated phase out the sale of incandescent by 2011.

The United States

California will phase out the use of incandescent bulbs by 2018.

All the government buildings switched to fluorescent lightings in all the states. Many of these state efforts became moot when the federal Clean Energy Act of 2007 was signed into law on December 19, 2007. This legislation effectively banned (by January 2014) incandescent bulbs that produce 310 - 2600 lumens of light. Bulbs outside this range (roughly, light bulbs currently less than 40 Watts or more than 150 Watts) are exempt from the ban. Also exempt are several classes of specialty lights, including appliance lamps, "rough service" bulbs, 3-way, colored lamps, and plant lights.

Canada will phase out incandescent bulbs by 2012.

Some countries in Central and South America had already phased out incandescent light bulbs, such as Cuba, Brazil and Venezuela.
Philippines will ban the use of incandescent bulbs by 2010
India will phase out incandescent bulbs by 2012
China agreed to phase out incandescent bulbs gradually since 2007
Australia banned the importation of “noncompliant lighting” as of November 2008 and by 2010, selling incandescants will be banned altogether. (Compliant bulbs must meet Australia’s minimum energy standard of 15 lumens per watt.)

Why LED Lighting?

LEDs, or light emitting diodes, are extremely energy efficient and extremely long-lasting light bulbs. LEDs are just starting to hit the consumer market in a big (affordable) way. In most loacations, they still cost quite a bit more than even CFLs, but use even less energy and last even longer. An LED light bulb can reduce energy consumption by 80-90% and last up to 50,000 to 100,000 hours. Christmas lights using LEDs have come down in price, but make sure you like the set you buy, as they may last you your lifetime given the few hours per year that they are turned on.