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How to read the packaging

Here is how to use the product information on the lamps' packaging:


Light output (in lumens)

Measuring the performance of a lamp in lumens allows direct comparisons of light quantity (which is the service actually offered by the lamp). Comparisons based on wattage are not meaningful any more and can be misleading. Look for 1300-1530 lumens for the equivalent of a 100W incandescent bulb, 920-1060 lumens for a 75W, 700-810 lumens for a 60W, 410-470 lumens for a 40W and 220-250 lumens for a 25W bulb.

Lamp energy label


Energy efficiency

The Regulation phases out the least efficient lamps. However, it is worthwhile checking the Energy Label to see how efficient a lamp is, because there are still large differences. For the same light output, a compact fluorescent lamp (class A) will need only the third of the electricity used by an improved incandescent bulb (class C). You can save a lot of money by going for the most efficient lamps.


The lifetime of a lamp is expressed as the number of hours it will operate before dying. The average use of a lamp is 1,000 hours a year, which is based on the assumption of 3 burning hours per day on average. Lamps that are on constantly will die faster, those rarely used will last longer. With some compact fluorescent lamps, the number of times the lamp is switched on and off also influences how long they live in practice (see "Number of switches before failure"). The lifetime of lamps can vary between 1,000 hours for conventional incandescent bulbs to 15,000 hours for the best compact fluorescent lamps and LED lamps. Longer lamp life means less trouble buying and changing lamps. It should be taken into account also when comparing the price tags of the different alternatives.


Colour temperature (warmth of the light colour) indicated on the packaging of a bulb

Colour of the light (colour temperature)

While incandescent bulbs always provide the same light colour ("warm white"), compact fluorescent lamps and LEDs offer a wider range of colour temperatures (measured in Kelvins). These differences are useful in certain applications. Choose 2700K or "warm white" for relaxing and more than 4000K or "cold white" for work.

Compact LED bulb with warm light    Compact LED bulb with cold light


Number of times the bulb can be switched before failure

Number of switches before failure

This information is particularly important for compact fluorescent lamps. Standard compact fluorescent lamps (with 3000-6000 on/off switches) should not be installed in locations where frequent switching is likely, meaning an average of more than three times a day, e.g. in toilets or corridors with motion sensors. They might not reach the lifetime claimed on the packaging. However, there exist dedicated compact fluorescent lamps that can endure up to 1 million switches, suitable for such locations. Other light sources are insensitive to switching (such as improved incandescent bulbs).


Starting time

Warm-up times

This information is particularly important for compact fluorescent lamps. Standard compact fluorescent lamps take a bit longer to start and to reach their full light output than other lamp technologies (up to 2 seconds to start and up to 60 seconds to reach 60% of their light output). However, there exist dedicated compact fluorescent lamps that are almost as fast to switch on as other lamp types (such as improved incandescent bulbs).


Icon indicating the bulb is not dimmable


You should always check this logo for compact fluorescent lamps and LEDs, as many of them will not work when operated on standard dimmers. However, there exist also dimmable compact fluorescent lamps and LEDs, and improved incandescent bulbs are always dimmable.


Operating temperature

Operating temperature

Compact fluorescent lamps and LED lamps are more temperature sensitive than improved incandescent bulbs. It is important to choose a bulb which will work well at the temperatures to which it is likely to be exposed. For outdoor luminaires in climatic zones with cold winters, it is for example advisable to select a lamp that works also when it is freezing outside, otherwise its light output may be reduced on winter nights.


Lamp size

Lamp dimensions

When you switch from one lamp technology to another in the same luminaire, do not forget to check whether the new lamp will fit into the luminaire before you buy it.


Packaging logo – not in standard waste (WEEE logo)

How to dispose of compact fluorescent lamps and light emitting diode lamps?

These lamps contain complex electronics and should not be placed in the normal household waste. This is indicated by the crossed-out bin logo. They should be returned to one of the shops selling them or into any other dedicated collection system for waste electronic equipment (depending on the country you are in).