Most LED bulbs available to the consumer are labeled with an equivalent incandescent bulb wattage, such as “60-watt equivalent.” This can be quite helpful, as you simply need a higher or lower number for the wattage equivalent if you want more or less light. As a basic guide, a 60-watt-equivalent LED bulb should have about 800 lumens, a technical measurement of the amount of light leaving a bulb. Lumens can be a handy comparison but should not be the sole factor you consider.
Find lighting designers on Houzz
A bulb’s lighting facts will use the term “color appearance,” which is another term for “color temperature.” This helpful metric is measured in degrees Kelvin, with lower color temperatures being warmer, or amber, and higher color temperatures being cooler, or blue.
How to Choose the Right Color Temperature of LED Lightbulb
Understanding the lighting facts label that’s present on most LED bulbs is similar to understanding nutrition labels or medication facts. It may not be much fun to decode these facts, but a little knowledge can guide you to a better choice.
The estimated yearly energy cost should be low; that of a typical 60-watt equivalent is less than $1.15. Purchase prices vary widely, but a 60-watt-equivalent basic LED bulb should cost less than $1.50. Expect to pay more for longer-life bulbs or specialty bulbs.
Designers go beyond the lighting facts label and look at color rendering, dimmability and direction of output, each of which can have a major impact on the quality of light in your home.
Direction is not listed on the label, though many manufacturers put tags on the packaging that read “omnidirectional.” Check the shape of the lamp; if it has a solid section for heat sink or electronics, the bulb will push more light in one direction.
Your eyes are unique, your home is unique and your brain is unique, and with all the LED bulbs on the market, it should be no surprise that personal tastes differ. Once you have completed the steps above, buy a bulb, put it in your lamp and see how it looks. If it does not look good to you, if it puts more light on your ceiling than on your book or if it buzzes in a distracting way, return it to the store and try something else.
More on Houzz
What to Know About Switching to LED Lightbulbs
Shop for LED bulbs
Find lighting designers