The headlights and tail lights that come stock in your vehicle are the brightest and longest-lasting in automotive history. The growing assortment of off-road and accessory lighting available is more powerful and efficient than ever. Advancements in technology have made way for intense illumination all-around. Whether you’re shopping for replacement bulbs or looking to add some trail-blazing beams, that technology – and the terminology that goes along with it – can make the process a pain. We’re here to shed some light (pun intended) on your burning questions. Read on as we break it down.
Lumens are the most common lighting measurement. A lumen (lm) measures the amount of visible light, or in scientific terms the luminous flux (hence the name). Simply put, the lumen rating tells you how much light will be produced. While we’re on the subject, a common misconception is that higher wattage equals higher light output. Thanks to advancements in LED technology, that is not the case. LEDs consume less power while emitting the same or more visible light. Where watts are a measure of power consumption, lumens are a measurement of the visible light output. When you want to know how bright a light will be, you need to identify the lumen value – not watts.
Lux (lx) measures the amount of visible light or luminous flux on a surface, per unit area. A single lux is equal to one lumen per square meter. If you see a lux measurement, it will usually accompany a distance from the source since any change in distance changes the lux level. The lux and distance will tell you the intensity of the light as it passes through the night. For example, if you shine a 100 lumen bulb on only one square meter of surface, that surface will be lit at 100 lux, while if you shine the light on four square meters, the surface will be lit with 25 lx.
Candela (cd) – or candlepower as it used to be called – is a measure of the intensity of a light source in a particular direction. One candela is roughly the light intensity produced by a single candle as perceived by the human eye. Candelas are similar to lumens in that both deal with light output. The key difference is that candela is specifically a measurement of directional intensity. Spot lights (or think of a laser pointer) have the highest candela rating since the majority of their light is focused in a single direction.
Lux vs Lumens vs Candela
It may seem like all these terms are used to simply cause confusion. But since lumens, lux and candela all measure different characteristics, they all give important insight into your lighting. So next time you find yourself on the hunt for upgraded illumination and comparing lumens vs lux and lux vs candela, just remember – lumens are how much light is given off, lux is how bright your area will be and candela measures the visible intensity of the light.