What Is A Lumen?

A lumen is a way to measure how brightly a light bulb burns.  Like buying milk by the gallon and bananas by the pound, we'll soon be buying light by the lumen.

In fact, new packages of light bulbs already sport a Lighting Facts Label that tells you the bulb's lumens instead of its watts.  That's going to take some getting used to.

Here are a few guidelines from the Department of Energy:

  • The light from a new bulb with 1,600 lumens - whether it's a CFL, halogen or LED - is about equivalent to a 100-watt incandescent.
  • Replace a 75-watt incandescent with a 1,100-lumen bulb.
  • Choose a bulb with 800 lumens to take the place of a 60-watt incandescent.
  • Look for 450 lumens to shine as brightly as a 40-watt traditional bulb.

The Lighting Facts Label also reveals how much it will cost you to burn the bulb for a year, how long the bulb will last-based on using it three hours a day-whether its light appears warm (yellowish) or cool (whiter) and how much energy it uses (in watts).