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What is a Lumen And How Does it Work in Commercial Lighting?

What is a lumen?

Lumens refers to the brightness of the light emitted by a bulb or the amount of illumination in a specified area. This value is typically indicated on the packaging of the bulb. You can compare lighting apparatus of different types—halogen incandescent bulbs, CFL, or LEDs—just using their lumens values. Once you are certain how much brightness you need from your lighting apparatus, you can go on to compare the other parameters before buying one that matches your workspace needs.

For many people, shopping for light bulbs is looking for ones with the highest watt values. But not many know that in this age of energy-efficient lighting devices, basing the buying decision on watt alone is erroneous. Watt refers to the amount of energy that a light bulb consumes in a specific period of time.

Your Main Objective

As the owner of a business or a commercial space, you should be more concerned about how bright is the light emitted by a bulb(s). After all, you have to ensure that commercial and manufacturing spaces should be brightly lit so that employees are not hampered, bothered, or unimpressed with the lighting situation while trying to perform their professional responsibilities. So when buying lights for your business, you need to consider their lumens value.

What do You need to Know about the Relation between Lumens and Watts?

Most people have all along been accustomed to shop for lights after comparing the watt values of various lighting devices. So given below is a chart that presents a comparison between the watt values of light bulbs and their corresponding lumens numbers.

So why do you need to know the relation between the watt and lumens values of light bulbs? In a nutshell, this knowledge helps you make an informed buying decision. You shortlist a few light bulbs based on their lumens values, which is, how bright you want the light emitting from such a device to be. Now you should consider the watt values of these bulbs to determine the ones that consume the least amount of energy. When you consider both these values, you can choose light bulbs that best fit the lightning needs of your workspace without drastically increasing the operational expenses of your business.

What should Know about the Relation Between Lumens and Color Temperature?

When buying light bulbs, you should not only consider the lumens value of the lighting device but also its color temperature. For those who are unaware, color temperature refers to the particular color of the light emitted by a light bulb. Different lighting devices cast differently-shaded glows on the objects in an environment. These shades may range from warm red and orange tones produced by light bulbs with low color temperatures to white and bluish-white hues emitted by lighting devices with higher color temperatures. Color temperature is measured in kelvins (K).

How bright the light from a bulb appears also depends on the color of the glow cast by it. For instance, two bulbs may have exactly the same lumens values. But the bulb that has a lower color temperature produces a yellowish glow while that with a higher color temperature may produce a glow that mimics natural daylight. The light from the second bulb will appear brighter than the bulb that casts a yellowish or reddish tint on the objects in the environment. The following image will make this distinction clear.

In the above image, both lights have the same lumens value. This means that the light emitted by both is equally bright. But the bulb on the right appears brighter because it casts a bluish-white glow compared to the one on the left that emits a dim-looking yellow glow.

How can You Measure Lumens?

The brightness of the light emitted from a particular light source or the amount of visible light or illumination in a specific area is measured using a light meter. You may need to know the value of lumens per square feet at your commercial premises before you retrofit lights. For instance, if the existing lights at your workspace are not bright enough, you will want to know their lumens values before you order new ones with higher lumens values.

You may also have to provide a certain amount of illumination at your workspace to comply with OSHA workplace safety guidelines. For this, you need to know the lumens values of the bulbs at your commercial location or the bulbs you are contemplating in buying.

By the Numbers

Apart from lumens per square foot, the brightness of light emitted by a lighting apparatus may also be measured in LUX and Foot candles. But the commercially available lighting apparatus usually sports the Lumens value on its packaging. If your light meter displays values in these units, the following pointers will help you with the conversion:

  • 1 Foot candle=1 Lumens per square foot
  • Multiply the Foot candles value by 10.76891 to obtain the corresponding LUX value
  • Multiply the LUX value by 0.09290304 to obtain the corresponding Foot candles value

The above-mentioned information about lumens will help make an informed decision when you decide to buy lights for your business, office, operation, warehouse, or other commercial space.


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