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The lumen (symbol: lm) is the SI derived unit of luminous flux, a measure of the total "amount" of visible light emitted by a source. Luminous flux differs from power (radiant flux) in that luminous flux measurements reflect the varying sensitivity of the human eye to different wavelengths of light, while radiant flux measurements indicate the total power of all light emitted, independent of the eye's ability to perceive it. The lumen is defined in relation to the candela as 1 lm = 1 cd·sr A full sphere has a solid angle of 4· steradians, so a light source that uniformly radiates one candela in all directions has a total luminous flux of 1 cd·4 sr = 4 ? 12.57 lumens.


LED High Bay Light

If a light source emits one candela of luminous intensity uniformly across a solid angle of one steradian, the total luminous flux emitted into that angle is one lumen (1 cd·1 sr = 1 lm). Alternatively, an isotropic one-candela light-source emits a total luminous flux of exactly 4 lumens. If the source were partially covered by an ideal absorbing hemisphere, that system would radiate half as much luminous flux—only 2 lumens. The luminous intensity would still be one candela in those directions that are not obscured.

The lumen can be thought of casually as a measure of the total "amount" of visible light in some defined beam or angle, or emitted from some source. The number of candelas or lumens from a source also depends on its spectrum, via the nominal response of the human eye as represented in the luminosity function.

The difference between the units lumen and lux is that the lux takes into account the area over which the luminous flux is spread. A flux of 1000 lumens, concentrated into an area of one square metre, lights up that square metre with an illuminance of 1000 lux. The same 1000 lumens, spread out over ten square metres, produces a dimmer illuminance of only 100 lux. Mathematically, 1 lx = 1 lm/m2.

A source radiating a power of one watt of light in the color for which the eye is most efficient (a wavelength of 555 nm, in the green region of the optical spectrum) has luminous flux of 683 lumens. So a lumen represents at least 1/683 watts of visible light power, depending on the spectral distribution.


LED High Bay with Sensor Lamps used for lighting are commonly labeled with their light output in lumens; in many jurisdictions this is required by law.

A 23 watt compact fluorescent lamp emits about 1,500–1,600 lm.

On 1 September 2010, European Union legislation came into force mandating that lighting equipment must be labelled primarily in terms of lumens, instead of watts of electricity consumed. This change is a result of the EU's Eco-design Directive for Energy-using Products (EuP). For example, according to the European Union standard, an energy-efficient bulb that claims to be the equivalent of a 60 W tungsten bulb must have a minimum light output of 700-750 lumens.

To estimate lumens from watts for various types of lamp, see luminous efficacy.

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