How to Compare the Apparent Brightness of Fluorescent Bulbs


The popular new style of fluorescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lightbulbs, are different from the tube style of fluorescent bulb. Compact fluorescent bulbs can illuminate a room with various types of color depending on the mood you want for your home. The apparent brightness of the bulbs is determined by the type of color provided by the bulb. This means that you will need to know what type of light a bulb produces in order to compare the brightness.

  • Determine which types of bulbs you want to compare. There are soft white bulbs, bright white bulbs and natural light bulbs.

  • Look on each bulb's packaging and find the amount of Kelvin (K) for the bulb. Kelvin is the temperature scale that is used to indicate the type of light produced by the bulb.

  • Compare the Kelvin for each bulb. A soft white bulb will be between 2700K and 3000K. A bright white bulb will be between 3500K and 4100K. A natural light bulb will be between 5000K and 6500K.

  • Look on the bulb's packaging and find the bulb's lumens. Lumens measure the quantity or amount of light output emitted from each bulb. Bulbs that have higher lumens will be brighter.

  • Buy one of each type of bulb to test at home. Take out an old bulb from a fixture and then insert each compact fluorescent bulb, in turn, to see how bright it is in your home. Go from the bulb with the lowest lumens to the highest to see the difference in brightness.

Tips & Warnings

  • Soft white is the color of a standard incandescent bulb.
  • Natural light will mimic daylight and is good for reading.
  • Compact fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, and must be recycled rather than disposed of with normal garbage.

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  • Photo Credit light bulb 1 image by jimcox40 from
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