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Seeing the Light: What is Lumen and candela?

Seeing the Light: What is Lumen and candela?

Are you in the market for a new flashlight? If so, it may be helpful to know the answer to the question what is lumen. Chances are, you have heard the term lumen before, but may still not be able to figure out what it is. This article is here to help. We will talk about what is lumen, a candela (a related measurement), and what lumens mean when you are purchasing a flashlight. Read on to learn more!

What is Lumen?

So what is lumen? In common terms, a lumen is basically the total amount of light that a particular light source emits. A lumen only describes the light being directly emitted from the beam of a light or from a light bulb. Even with this knowledge, you may still find it confusing to understand how bright a single lumen is. Understanding a candela (below) can help with that. But, for a reference point, a 23 watt florescent is normally rated from 1,500-1,600 lumens. Flashlights are often rated by how many lumens of light that they emit. This rating can be helpful in determining which flashlight you should buy.

What is Candela?

A candela is another measure of light. By understanding exactly what a candela is, you can better understand what is lumen. A candela actually measures how intense a light source is. One candela represents about the same amount of light that one candle emits. A light source that emits one candela over one particular surface of a beam has a rating of about 1 lumen. But to emit one candela in a sphere in all directions, a light source must have a rating of about 12.6 lumens, total. Still, this is not very bright.

What Lumens Mean for Flashlights

Lumens just measure how bright a beam is, not how good it is at focusing. This other measure, known as beam distance, is important to consider alongside lumens to get a picture of the quality of the flashlight.  But with that being said, you should choose a flashlight with the correct amount of lumens for the job. 20 lumens works for reading a book. 3500 lumens can light up a whole trail. About 200 lumens is good for lighting up a single room. Just remember that higher lumen lights will go through batteries faster.


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