What Are Lumens: Definition And Best Practices

In this article, we’re going to explain what are lumens and how much you need them to optimally lighten up your room.

People are used to thinking that the more watts, the higher the brightness, and because of that they think that watts are a unit of brightness.

Watts defines energy consumption, not brightness.

More brightness requires more energy, but not if we compare different types of lighting, such as LED and halogen/incandescent, since LED consumes much less energy.

Standard bulbs tend to consume far more energy than all the other ones (LED, halogen, CFL). That’s the main reason why LED is so popular right now: more light – less energy.

What are lumens?

The lumen is the SI-derived unit of luminous flux, a measure of the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source per unit of time, as Wikipedia says. Simply put – a lumen is a unit that measures the intensity of light. 

This means that a bulb with more lumens provides stronger illumination than one that has less, regardless of how much energy (watts) it consumes.

Now that you’ve learned what are lumens, it’s time for a handy comparison of different types of bulbs.

The following table compares the consumption depending on the type of bulb.

LumensStandard bulbHalogen bulbCFL bulbLED bulb
Comparison of consumption of different light bulbs

As we can see, for a brightness of 800 lumens, a standard light bulb consumes 60 watts, while an LED bulb only consumes 9. That’s a saving of 85%!

No wonder LED bulbs are so popular. But that’s not the only thing, and the less they spend, the longer they last.

How many lumens do I need?

To find out how many lumens you need, multiply your room’s square footage by its foot-candle requirement. This is the most accurate way to optimally assess the lighting needs of a room.

What is a foot candle?

The foot candle is a measure of light intensity from a uniform source of light that’s related to a square foot surface. To be even precise – it’s a measure of brightness one foot away from its source.

What’s the optimal foot-candle requirement for my room?

There are some general rules for the optimal amount of candle foot depending on the type of room.

RoomFoot candles requirements
Dining room30-40
Kitchen (in general)30-40
Kitchen sink70-80
Kitchen stove70-80
Living room10-20
Foot candle requirements of different room types

How bright are 1000 lumens?

1 lumen has a brightness of 1 candle, therefore making 1000 lumens have the brightness of 1000 candles (as we’ve already mentioned in our oil lamps vs candles article).

Also, 1000 lumens is the recommended minimum brightness for a 100-square-foot living room.

It cannot be specifically said whether 1000 lumens is too bright or not too bright because it depends on the context. If you illuminate a very small surface with 1000 lumens, it can be too bright, but if you are trying to illuminate, say, a larger outdoor space, of course, it will not be nearly enough.

How many lumens is a 60-watt LED bulb?

There are approximately 4477 lumens in a 60-watt LED bulb.

LED wattsLumens
LED watts to lumens conversion chart 


There is a lot of terminology around light and lighting, and sometimes it can all be quite confusing. You have learned the most important thing and we can do it again. Lumens indicate the intensity of light (brightness), while watts indicate energy consumption and have nothing to do with brightness.

Now you know what are lumens. Hope we managed to make this topic simple and clear. 

If something is not clear to you or you want to ask us something, feel free to write in the comments below.

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