Credit: Norburn Lighting

In designing or refreshing a space, the ultimate feel-great ambience goes beyond wall colour and furnishings. The feel and functionality of a space also comes down to lighting, and the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating the perfect haven

€œLighting is more that simply illumination of your home or office,€ says John Vandespyker, branch manager for Norburn Lighting. €œLighting serves various purposes and greatly affects the design, look, and style of your space.€

In some cases, a single fixture will do the trick, and in other cases it might be necessary to layer a room's lighting for optimal results. But before all of that, It's important to think about the room's actual requirements, and that is where a little math comes in handy.

Discovering Lumens

A lumen is a measurement used to determine the quantity of light in a space. Before a space can truly be enhanced to its full potential, it is necessary to calculate the number of lumens required to do so.

Determining the correct number of lumens needed per room just requires a little simple math. To begin with, multiply the width and length of a room to tally the room's square footage. In the following example, the measurement would be 11 x 9 ft = 99 square feet.

Once that is determined, figure out the number of lumens required per square foot. This measurement is known as foot candle. The following chart gives an idea of the square footage€“foot candle relationship.

The last step is to multiply the square feet by the foot candle recommended for the room. The resulting number will yield the number of lumens needed for the space.

Going back to our example, the recommended lighting for a 99 square foot dining room is as follows:

99 square feet x 30 foot candle = 2970

99 square feet x 40 foot candle = 3960

Approximately 2970 to 3960 lumens needed for the space.

Beyond the Lumen

Deciding what end of the lumen range to bring into your space depends on several factors, including the location, use, and mood that defines the space. Consider what activities are going to take place in the room€”will they require a great deal of light or is a softer mood more appropriate? How does natural light factor in? Consider the aesthetic of the space€”does it contain dark furniture, floors, or walls? How high are the ceilings? Will the lighting in the room be dimmable or not?

€œOnce adequate or base lighting level needs have been achieved, lighting can be tailored to and reflect individual preferences that incorporate safety and functionality with personal tastes, styles, and overall comfort,€ Vandespyker says.

The Perfect Fixture

Now that you have a general idea of how many lumens a space requires, the next thing is to determine what product or products to purchase that will provide functional and aesthetically pleasing light.

Most lighting manufacturers provide the initial lumen information for their products, but not all will provide delivered lumens. What's the difference?

Initial Lumens: This number indicates the amount of light given off from the light source, but it does not account for other factors that may alter the final output, such as lenses and diffusers.

Delivered Lumens: Delivered lumens indicates the amount of light given off from the light source after taking into account factors that will affect the final output. As a result, delivered lumens are lower in comparison to initial lumens. It is reasonable to expect that approximately only 80% of the lumens will be delivered.

Since incandescent and fluorescent lighting uses wattage as a measurement, you can use this chart as a guideline to know how many lumens will be needed in a space given the provided options:

Remember that a single light source might not yield enough lumens, so it is advised to layer lighting. This also allows you to adjust the level of lighting depending on the activities taking place within the room.

€œA thorough lighting design layout incorporates different types of lighting, including task, ambient, and accent or feature lighting,€ Vandespyker says.

For more information on lumens or how to effectively layer lighting, feel free to contact our ALA Lighting Specialist. Our team is always happy to help!


Phone: 604-299-0666

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