How to Read a Light Bulb Package

Look for some changes to the way light bulb packages are labeled and learn what you need to know to select the right bulbs for your lighting needs.
By: Jill Connors
Related To:

New Front Label

The Federal Trade Commission is requiring new labeling information on light bulb packages starting January 1, 2012, to aid consumers in making choices on light bulbs based on lumens and energy efficiency versus wattage for incandescent bulbs. The front of the new light bulb package must display the lumens and the estimated yearly energy cost. Image courtesy of FTC

New Back Label

The new label on the back of every light bulb package, beginning January 1, 2012, will display a Lighting Facts Per Bulb information box, similar to the Nutrition Facts box on food. The Lighting Facts box must include brightness in lumens, estimated yearly energy cost, life expectancy, light appearance (also known as the correlated color temperature) and energy used. Image courtesy of FTC

Start Thinking Lumens

With the planned phaseout of the incandescent light bulb starting January 1, 2012, as required by the Energy Independence and Security Act, consumers need to start looking for light bulb choices that provide similar light output (lumens) to the incandescent they may be replacing.

Current Package Labeling: Incandescent

Current labeling already helps make the switch from thinking in watts to thinking in lumens. The next three slides show three packages for three different types of A19-shaped light bulbs — incandescent, LED and CFL — that all produce approximately the same lumens. This 40-watt incandescent bulb equals 500 lumens. Photo: Inset from Philips light bulb package.

Current Package Labeling: LED

This 8-watt LED bulb equals 450 lumens. Photo: Inset from Philips light bulb package.

Current Package Labeling: CFL

This 9-watt CFL bulb equals 450 lumens. Photo: Inset from EcoSmart light bulb package.

Next Up

Light Bulbs: Know the Different Types

Fluorescent, incandescent, halogen and tungsten — learn where each bulb works best.

Learn to Speak Lighting Lingo

Watts are so last year. The new measure is lumens. Get tips on reading a bulb label.

Lighting Tips for Every Room

Find out what types of fixtures work best throughout your home

Bedroom Reading Lights

Creating the perfect bedroom reading nook is simple with these ideas for bedroom reading lights.

How to Illuminate Your Yard With Landscape Lighting

Create a stunning landscape that can be enjoyed during the day and night with inventive outdoor lighting solutions.

Outdoor Landscape Lighting

With carefully placed outdoor lights, you can enjoy the ambiance of your garden into the evening.

Bathroom Lighting

Spread it around with recessed fixtures and indirect lighting.

Install Recessed Lighting

Transform the look of your room with new recessed lighting.

How to Choose the Best Indoor Lighting for Plants

Whether it's for your full-grown houseplants or starter seedlings, check out these ideas for indoor lighting.