The New Facts Of Lighting

on June 17, 2011 at 12:30 PM

It’s official.

New “Lighting Facts” labels are coming to US light bulb packaging in mid-2011. Watt’s up with that? (Sorry, couldn’t resist). Well, the new labels mandated by the Federal Trade Commission mean many consumers may finally start to put “Watts” in the right context.

The Lighting Facts labels will emphasize lumens as a measure of light output instead of Watts. A graphic on the front of bulb packages will display how many lumens a bulb delivers. The back of the package will have additional information on Wattage, color temperature, etc. This change to the packaging will push people to understand that Watts measure energy consumed and lumens measure light output.

This is important because as more energy efficient lighting options (such as LEDs) are sold at the store, consumers can no longer judge the brightness of a bulb based on Watts.

Here’s a look at the new labels approved by the FTC.

Back when incandescent lights were the only thing on the market, you could pretty much judge what type of light output you would get based on the Wattage (even though, it’s not the right way to measure the type of light you’ll be getting). It was safe to assume that the higher a bulb’s Wattage, the brighter it would be.

But now that energy-efficient lights such as CFLs and LEDs are taking up shelf space, many consumers must be weaned off their old shopping habits and become familiar with lumens as a measure of light output.

For example, the average 40W incandescent bulb has a light output of about 500 lumens. But a CFL that puts out 500 lumens might only consume 10 Watts. And an LED light that produces 500 lumens can consume even fewer Watts.

Other features of the new labels include:

Wattage: You’ll still be able to see how much energy your light consumes

Estimated yearly energy cost: That way if you’re spending more on the up-front cost of an energy-efficient bulb you’ll be able to gauge estimated savings to see the true value.

Life based on three hours of usage a day: Since Cree LED lights are designed to last 50,000 hours, their life expectancy would be more than 45 YEARS if used for only three hours a day.

Light Appearance: There’s a scale measuring the light from warm to cool, including the specific color temperature. No more guessing whether soft white means warm or cool or somewhere in between.

Mercury Alert: Bulbs that contain mercury (ahem: CFLs and other fluorescents) will be required to disclose that on the package, and include a link to the Environmental Protection Agency’s site that details how to clean up a broken mercury-laden bulb.

The new labels are exciting because they’re really setting the stage for the LED Lighting Revolution.

“The new labels that focus on brightness in lumens will help consumers make purchasing decisions as they transition to more energy-efficient types of bulbs,” according to the FTC press release.

Do you think the new label will do a better job of educating consumers on light output v. energy consumption? Or will the new labels just confuse shoppers?

This post appears by consideration of Cree LED Revolution, a blog sponsored by leading LED manufacturer Cree.