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Understand Lumens for Your Commercial Facility

Lumens is a buzzword those in the LED lighting industry use a lot. If you are considering installing LED lighting, you might wonder what lumens are and what role they play in lighting design. You can learn a lot on the subject, but here is a quick rundown to help you understand the concept of lumens as you transition to LED lighting solutions.

Definition of Lumens 

Manufacturers measure light using photometric measurements or radiometric measures. Photometric measurements indicate the visible wavelengths that a light source produces. The energy produced at visible wavelengths is known as luminous flux, measured in lumens.

Radiometric measurements quantify the visible and invisible wavelength a light source produces. The energy that a light source produces at these wavelengths is known as radiant flux, measured in watts.

Therefore, lumens describes the total energy the visible wavelengths of a light source produces.

Types of Lumens 

The types of lumens that a light source delivers fall into two categories - total lumens and delivered lumens.

Total Lumens
Total lumens indicate the total quantity of light a light source emits. Lighting professionals commonly use total lumens to measure the light output of omnidirectional light sources.

Omni-directional light sources deliver light in all directions. Traditional omnidirectional light sources typically redirect much of their output to the source.

During this redirecting process, the light source loses energy and as a result, only a small percentage of the total lumens are illuminated onto the work area.

Delivered Lumens
Delivered lumens is the actual amount of light that reaches a work area. Directed light sources deliver the most amounts of lumens to a work surface because no energy if any is reflected back to the source.

While total lumens is the entire amount of light that a light source produces, delivered lumens is the amount of useful light a source delivers to a particular work area, after accounting for wasted light.

Common sources of light wastage include a blocked fixture case, the position of the fixture, lensing, filtration, and installation.

Amount of Lumens Needed 

Users and, sometimes, lighting professionals only consider the total lumens output to determine the effectiveness of a light source.

However, the total lumens output does not consider energy waste and may, therefore, be an inaccurate measure of the amount of light that a light source actually delivers. 

When comparing the effectiveness of light sources, say between LED and incandescent lamps, consider the delivered or the useful light, and not wattage, as the key measurement of effectiveness.

Users also evaluate the brightness and therefore the effectiveness of a lamp based on wattage. However, just because a bulb is bright does not mean it is delivering enough useful light.

For example, you may consider a 75-watt incandescent bulb as being quite bright. Such a bulb delivers up to 1,100 lumens. However, because incandescent bulbs are omnidirectional, they tend to scatter and waste energy. As such, your work area may not receive all the 1,100 lumens and you may not need all these lumens in the first place.

On the contrary, to deliver 1,100 lumens, an LED lamp may only require between 9 to 13 watts. Because LED light sources are typically directional, they waste less energy and therefore deliver comparably more useful light to a work surface.

As such, an LED lamp with the same or lower total lumens rating may deliver a greater amount of useful light and consume fewer watts per foot compared to its incandescent counterpart.

Transitioning to LED lighting can come with significant upfront costs. However, when you consider the amount of useful light LED fixtures can deliver and the benefits of having adequate useful light in your facility, the return on investment becomes evident.

Are you looking to make a lighting investment? Speak to the lighting experts at Tocor Inc. We are committed to simplifying commercial lighting and helping you choose the right lighting system for your facility.


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