Energy saving products & green living

How Bright is That Light Bulb? Lumens and Brightness Explained

March 11th, 2014 | Posted by EnergyEarth in Green Tips

It’s time to change the way we think about lighting. 

We’ve become accustomed to recognizing what the brightness of a 100 watt incandescent light bulb should be, but that number doesn’t actually tell us anything about the light output – just how much electricity it uses.

Now that we have energy efficient light bulbs that can match the light output of incandescent light bulbs with much less electricity use, the old terminology is obsolete and confusing.


Choosing a bulb based on lumens will help you get the right bulb every time. 

The newFederal Trade Commission lighting labels look a lot like the nutrition facts labels you’re used to seeing on your favorite foods and will help you find the right light bulb for every application.

For example, consider replacing a 60 watt incandescent bulb. This bulb requires 60 watts of electricity to produce about 800 lumens of light. By switching to an equivalent CFL that produces 800 lumens of light, you only need 14 watts of electricity. Even better, you can get 800 lumens from an LED light bulb with only 12 watts of electricity.

Where does all of that extra electricity go? The extra 46 or so watts are generating heat, and unless you’re heating a gas station hot dog, keeping your hamster warm or cooking in your EasyBake Oven, it’s just wasted.

For more information on how lumens work, the US Department of Energy has a helpful video packed with information in under two minutes. On top of that, we have a handy Bulb Selector Guide that has it all laid out for easy reference anytime.

Purchasing new energy saving light bulbs doesn’t have to be hard. When you understand how lumens work, you have the keys to shopping smarter and easier, not harder.


—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2014 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.



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