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What’s a Lumen? Understanding New Light Bulb Labels

By the Federal Trade Commission

Quick Quiz:

  • What’s a lumen?
  • What’s the Lighting Facts label?
  • Why will either of them matter when I shop for light bulbs?

Not sure? Watch a new video from the Federal Trade Commission to be illuminated. You’ll learn how lumens and the FTC’s Lighting Facts label can help you compare different bulbs when you shop.

Newer light bulbs — like halogen incandescents, CFLs and LEDs — use less energy by design. But that means you can’t use watts, which measure energy use, to tell how bright they’ll be. That’s where lumens come in: Lumens = brightness. The more lumens, the brighter the light.

Want to know more? Visit

You’ll also get a sneak peek of the Lighting Facts label, due on packages for everyday bulbs by the end of the year. The label helps you compare bulbs by telling you a bulb’s brightness (in lumens), yearly estimated energy cost, expected bulb life, and how warm or cool the light will look.

For more on new light bulbs, visit the Department of Energy’s