Walk into any big-box store and you’re likely to see a wall of lightbulbs. With the move toward energy-efficient LED lighting, the new language on packaging can be more confusing than ever.
Consumer Reports recently ran an article that demystified LED terms. One of the points of confusion is that LED packaging is not uniform, so we’ll look at a couple examples.
At the right, the packaging gives a few important bits of information:
• Lumens – The brightness of the bulb, which used to be measured in watts. With LEDs, 1600 lumens deliver the brightness of a 100-watt bulb, 1100 lumens equate to a 75-watt bulb, and 800 lumens is equivalent to a 60-watt bulb.
• Life – LEDs don’t usually burn out over time, but they fade in intensity. When its light is decreased by 30%, it’s at the end of its useful life, which is listed on the package.
• Energy Used – Watts is a measure of energy, and LEDs are clear winners. Notice on this package that a 750-lumens LED uses just 13 watts to deliver the same light as a 60-watt incandescent.
To help consumers understand LEDs, some packages list the “watt replacement” value on packaging, as shown here.
You may also see other valuable information, such as:
• Energy Star – Energy Star products meet stringent federal guidelines for energy efficiency and may qualify for utility rebates. LEDs with an Energy Star rating are also warrantied to last longer than three years.
• Mercury Free – No LEDs contain mercury, but CFLs do. Although it’s only a small amount, be sure to recycle CFLs as you would any hazardous material.
• Direction – LED bulbs typically shine light in a specific direction unless otherwise noted. Omnidirectional bulbs are well-suited for A-type bulbs used in lamps.
• Color Rendering Index (CRI) – CRI indicates how accurately colors are rendered by a bulb. Although halogen bulbs are the most accurate in rendering color, most LEDs and CFLs test well.