How to Read a Light Bulb Box

A new light bulb seems straightforward until you get to the store and find an array of bulbs. Different types serve different purposes and energy needs. Understanding how to read a light bulb box will help you buy the right product for your lighting needs. In this article, we will discuss the common terms found on a light bulb box, explaining their meaning.

Reading a Light Bulb Box

In this section, we will discuss the common specifications of a light bulb and how to read them.

  • Lumens: Lumens refers to the measure of a bulb’s luminosity and brightness in simpler terms. While wattage used to be the standard for measuring brightness, it is no longer an accurate measure. This is because wattage uses energy output to measure brightness. This method is effective for incandescent bulbs but not for LED bulbs that are energy efficient. As such a standard that measures lumens, instead of energy is far more accurate. The more the lumens of a bulb, the brighter it is. Today, most light bulb boxes come with a lumens listing. If you are used to measuring brightness in watts, below is a table of lumens values and their equivalent in watts.

        – 1600 lumens = 100 watts

        –  1125 lumens = 75 watts

         – 900 lumens = 60 watts

          – 600 lumens = 40 watts

          –  375 lumens = 25 watts

  • Light Appearance: Also called light colour, the light appearance of a bulb refers to the colour temperature. The light appearance of a bulb is usually measured in Kelvin (K). The temperature determines how the light appears in your home or office. Bulbs that measure 5000K and above are cool colour temperature bulbs. These bulbs typically have a blueish tint that gives them an appearance of natural light.

On the other hand, warm colour temperature bulbs usually measure between 2700K to 3000K. These bulbs usually have a soft golden hue. Bulbs with cool colour temperature are great for work desks and reading rooms, while warmer bulbs fit bedrooms and living rooms.

  • Lifespan: The lifespan of a bulb varies depending on the type of bulb that it is. LED bulbs usually last much longer than incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs typically last less than one, while a LED bulb can last up to 20 years. Most LED bulbs do not burn out. Instead, the diode fades over time. This is a huge advantage.
  • Energy Star and Mercury-Free: Other things to look out for on a bulb box are the Energy Star mark and the mercury content. LED bulbs are usually mercury free. You should also look out for a blue light warning when buying LED lights.


For designer lighting, bulbs with special features should be considered. Overall, ensure that you buy products from a verified and trusted manufacturer.

Feature Image By Sean Patrick Murphy – SPM Photography

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