New packing requirements in the U.S. will change the way people refer to light bulbs.
For the first time, the label on the front of the package will emphasize the bulb’s brightness as measured in lumens, rather than a measurement of watts. Instead of buying a “72 watt light bulb,” people will now purchase a “1,500 lumens light bulb” or a “2500 lumens light bulb.”
A Gross Electric press release suggests taking a tip from Terry McGowan, the ALA’s director of engineering and owner of Lighting Ideas, Inc.
“You must learn a new word: lumens,” he says. “That’s how light output is measured worldwide. Then get familiar with the labels printed on light bulb cartons.”
The back of each carton will have a “Lighting Facts” label modified after the “Nutrition Facts” label that is currently on food packages. The Lighting Facts label will provide information about:
• Brightness (lumens)
• Energy cost
• Life expectancy
• Light appearance (for example, “warm” or “cool”)
• Mercury content
“For example, if a 100-watt incandescent is rated for 1,600-1,700 lumens of light output, in order to get the same light output from a CFL or LED bulb, you need to find one the same 1,600 rated lumens,” explains Laurie Gross, president of Gross Electric. “Knowing the rated watts of the new bulbs won’t tell you anything about light output — it’s the lumens that matter.”
According to McGowan, “Once you’re thinking of light output as ‘lumens’ instead of ‘watts,’ the rest is easy.”
Here are the ratings of the most common incandescent bulbs:
• 40-watt incandescent equals 450 lumens
• 60-watt incandescent equals 800 lumens
• 100-watt incandescent equals 1,600 lumens
“As you shop for energy-efficient bulbs, just match the lumens from the chart above to the lumen ratings for the bulbs that you see on the shelf,” McGowan advises.