Pointer Clicker is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Do Lumens Add Up?


Is it finally time to replace those old lightbulbs in the living room? Perhaps you’re simply looking for a way to make the dining room chandelier a little brighter? 

In the past, people bought light bulbs based on the amount of energy they consumed. 

However, as information became more available to the general public, people learned that it’s better to base their purchases on the amount of light a bulb can produce. 

This article answers some of the most frequently asked questions from customers of the illumination industry. 

If you’ve been wondering “do lumens add up?” for some time now, this article is the best place for you to find answers. 

Scroll on for more details!

Defining Lumens

If you are not particularly savvy about home appliances, then you might be wondering what lumens are exactly. 

You can think of lumens as a measuring technique to determine how dim or bright a light bulb is. 

Light Bulb on Dark Background

Lumens measure the total amount of light that’s visible to the human eye and is denoted by the symbol “lm.” The more lumens a light bulb or lamp has, the brighter the light it produces. 

On the other hand, the fewer lumens a light bulb has, the dimmer the light output. 

Lumens vs Watts: What’s the Difference?

Many people make the mistake of thinking lumens are just the same as watts. However, we’re here to help set the record straight. 

Lumens and watts are two different forms of measurement. As mentioned before, lumen (lm) is used to determine the brightness of a bulb. 

Whether the bulb you’re using is a halogen bulb, an LED bulb, or an incandescent bulb, the unit of measurement used will still be lumen. 

Meanwhile, watts (w) is used to measure the amount of energy a lightbulb uses to create light over a period of time. 

In other words, watts is used to measure the amount of electricity consumed when a bulb is turned on. 

Do Lumens Add Up?

If you’ve noticed a certain area in your home or office is too dim for comfort, increasing the number of lamps inside that space to improve brightness can help. 

Dark road vs Bright road

Most people ask a common question when assessing this situation: Do lumens add up? 

The answer: Yes. 

Lumens do add up; however, the human eye just isn’t strong enough to perceive the difference immediately. 

Unlike the lumen scale, which runs linearly, the human eyes and ears work logarithmically. This makes it trickier for the eyes to notice when the brightness increases. 

Does Having Two Times the Lumens Mean I Can See Farther Out?

The majority of people believe that since 4000 lumens is brighter than 2000, then they must be able to see twice as far in the dark. 

On the contrary, you can only expand your field of vision twice as far if you used a light that was four times brighter than your current lamp. 

Decorating lights hanging on tree

If increasing your field of vision is your goal, then a more important feature to consider is light bulb beam quality/length. 

Beam distance determines how far light from a certain source can travel. The higher the beam length of a bulb, the farther its light can reach.  

Lumens vs Beam: Which Is More Important?

The answer to this question depends entirely on the purpose.

If you’re looking to illuminate your immediate area, then lumens are a more important unit of measurement to watch out for.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to increase your field of vision, then the beam is a much more relevant unit of measurement to consider. 

How Do I Find Out How Many Lumens I Need in Space?

Determining the right number of light bulbs or lumens you need to light a room can be tricky, especially if you’re not someone who pays special care to these things in the first place. 

Hand holding a white light bulb

To make the process much easier for you to complete, you can use this simple calculation method:

Calculate the Square Footage of Each Room

The number of lumens you need for any specific room will rely heavily on how big the space is. So, the first step you need to take is to determine this number by multiplying the room length by the room width ( L x W = Sq.F). 

Here’s a quick example:

If the room you’re trying to light is 70 feet wide and 120 feet long, the total square footage of said room would be 8,400. 

Specify Room Purpose

Specific rooms will require a different number of lumens depending on their purpose. For instance, you may want your reading room to be brighter than your living room or bedroom. You can determine this number by calculating the Foot Candles for each room. 

Bedroom at night with Light

A foot-candle is yet another unit of measurement that determines the distance a lamp creates one foot away from its source. 

Once you have these specifications down, you can move on to calculating the number of lumens you need for each room and purpose. 

Calculate Lumens

To determine the number of lumens you need for a certain space, you multiply your space’s square footage by its foot-candle measurements. Let’s use our previous example of 8,400 square feet. 

If you take 8,400 square feet of space and multiply it by, say, ten foot-candles, the number of lumens you’ll need will be around 84,000 lumens. 

Is 100 Lumens Bright Enough?

It depends on the purpose it’s serving. On a flashlight or a small street lamp, a hundred lumens should be enough to light the area for pedestrians to stay safe. However, there are certain activities where a hundred lumens may not be enough to sustain it. 

Bright empty road at night

For instance, if you’re watching a movie at home using an LED projector, the standard recommended lumen count would be 2,000 lumens. This provides viewers with a clearer and brighter watching experience. 

If you’re using your projector somewhere with ambient lighting, 3,000 lumens may be a better choice to get the best output.

How Many Lumens Do I Need for the Outdoors?

Calculating lumens for outdoor use can be much more challenging than calculating lumens for indoor use. You have to determine what time of day you’ll be using the said lights. 

Additionally, you need to think about each light’s role in your area e.g., path and stair lights, motion sensor lights, floodlights, and landscape lights. 

Depending on these two factors, you can come up with an estimate for the number of lumens you’ll need to light up an outdoor space. 

Pool Lights

Owning a pool can be an awesome thing, especially if you live somewhere with a warmer climate. You can easily take a dip inside cool waters anytime you want. 

Pool at home with Inground Pool Light
Click the image for more info

However, night swimming can pose several dangers to yourself and your family, especially if you don’t have the right lighting. 

For a standard backyard pool, lamps with two hundred to four hundred lumens are recommended, to keep the water illuminated at night. 

The right placement for each lamp will depend on your preferences; however, it’s best to make sure that all corners, as well as the middle of the pool, are illuminated, so you can get a better view of it even at night. 

Path Lights

If a short garden stroll after dinner is something you enjoy doing, getting pathway lights, as well as stair lights, can help prevent unwanted falls and trips. 

LED Landscape Pathway Lights in front yard
Click the image for more info

Lamps with at least a hundred to two hundred lumens are enough to keep this area illuminated for people. 

Make sure that the position you place them in doesn’t reflect into a person’s eyes or cast a shadow over the tripping hazard. This would defeat the purpose of installing stair and pathway lights in the first place. 

Floodlights

You don’t want to get into an accident 15 seconds after getting home. This is why getting floodlights for your driveway may be a great idea, if you don’t already have them. 

House with High Output LED Light Bulbs
Click the image for more info

Experts recommend having at least seven hundred lumens of light or more for floodlights. 

Not only will they help you navigate your driveway better, but they may also discourage burglars from hitting your home in the darkness. 

When installing floodlights, make sure they aren’t pointing into your neighbor’s window. You don’t want to cause any friction with them. 

Backyard Movies

Backyard movies are more popular today than ever because of the COVID-19 precautions the government and health offices are encouraging. 

Backyard Balcony with Waterproof Connectable Hanging Light decoration
Click the image for more info

If you’re using an LED projector to watch a movie in your backyard, experts recommend having at least 500 lumens or more to get the best results. 

Final Thoughts

Lumens can, in fact, add up; however, the changes are too small for our eyes to detect off the bat. 

There needs to be a significantly larger alteration for our eyes to register what’s happened. This is why you may need four times the lumen count of your current lamp to make the light brighter. 

There isn’t an exact science to calculating the number of lumens you need to light a specific area. 

However, using the method we mentioned above, you can make a good estimate of your needs. 


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.