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Do You Know Your Lumens?

Making sense of the specs for work lights and utility bars.

Do you know your lumens?  The conventional ways of measuring light output have changed in recent years…

Dim and Old = Watts

Bright and Bold = Lumens

When working with halogen and strobe lights, manufacturers traditionally use watts to relay the “brightness” of the light output.  A watt is a measurement of power, so when more efficient and brighter LEDs were introduced that produced less power, watts no longer conveyed the same meaning.  Lumens started to gain more traction in the market.  A lumen measures the actual light emitted from the source over a period of time.  Regardless of the hardware or technology used to produce light, using lumens is a more consistent way to describe brightness.

A lighting product’s lumen output is advertised in different ways and understanding the terminology will “enlighten” your next work light or utility bar acquisition.

Lumen Terminology
Calculated lumens are based on theoretical values and not actual performance, which doesn’t take into account other factors that may decrease light output.  On the other hand, measured lumens state actual light output as measured in a test laboratory integrating sphere.  To complicate matters further, there are also raw lumens (brightness at start up) and effective lumens (brightness after 30 minutes of on time to account for thermal, optical and circuitry losses), both of which can be either calculated or measured.

While measured lumens are always the most accurate, the lighting industry typically states calculated raw lumens as the numbers are more impressive.  So, when comparing two manufacturers’ lights make sure the specifications are comparable and use the same methodology.

Here is a quick guideline for comparing lumens to lumens:







View our other blog posts related to Work Zone Safety.

This article republished with permission from ECCO.

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