Understanding the Difference: Candela vs Lumens

Diving into the world of lighting can be a bit confusing, especially when terms like ‘lumens’ and ‘candela’ come up. These are two fundamental units used to measure light output in different ways.

In this article, we’re going to demystify these terms, helping you understand their differences and when each is applicable. Ready for an enlightening experience? Let’s dive right in!

Key Takeaways

  • Candela measures the brightness of light in a specific direction, while Lumens measure the total amount of light emitted by a source.
  • Candela is used for focused lighting like flashlights or spotlights, while Lumens are used for overall light output from lamps and bulbs.
  • Understanding the difference helps DIY enthusiasts choose the right lighting for their projects and make informed decisions when purchasing lighting devices.

What are Candela and Lumens?

Candela and lumens are both units used to measure light, but they differ in their definitions and measurements.

Definition and measurement

Candela and lumens are ways to talk about light. Candela is a measure of how bright the light seems in one direction. Lumens, though, look at all the light that comes out from a source no matter which way it goes.

So, if you have a lamp, candela will tell you how strong the beam is in one spot. Lumens will tell you how much total light that lamp puts out in every direction.

Differences between the two

Candela and Lumens are two measurements of light that, although related, have unique applications and interpretations. Understanding these differences can help DIY enthusiasts get the most out of their lighting projects.

Candela Lumens
Definition Measures the visible intensity of light emitted in a specific direction. Measures the total quantity of visible light emitted by a light source.
Application Used to evaluate the brightness of a light source in a particular direction, such as a flashlight or a spotlight. Used to measure the overall light output of a light source, making it relevant for lamps, light bulbs, and other fixtures that emit light in all directions.
Interpretation Higher candela indicates a more intense light that can reach farther distances. More lumens mean a brighter light source that illuminates a larger area.
Related Measurement Associated with the beam distance of a flashlight or any focused light source. Relates to the overall illumination provided by a light source, often compared to the wattage of traditional incandescent bulbs.

Understanding these distinctions makes it easier to choose the right light source for specific tasks, effectively illuminating your DIY projects.

Importance of Knowing the Difference

Understanding the difference between candela and lumens is crucial for DIY enthusiasts as it helps in comprehending light intensity, choosing appropriate lighting for various applications, and making informed decisions while purchasing lighting devices.

Understanding light intensity and brightness

Lumens and candela are two measurements that help us understand light intensity and brightness. Lumens tell us how much light is being emitted by a lighting device, while candela measures the visible intensity of light in a specific direction.

So, lumens give us an idea of the total amount of light, while candela focuses on how bright the light is in a particular spot. To put it simply, lumens measure output, while candela measures brightness.

By understanding these measurements, DIY enthusiasts can choose the right lighting for their projects and ensure they have the desired level of brightness and intensity without any confusion or guesswork.

Choosing the right lighting for different applications

To ensure you have the right lighting for your DIY projects, consider the following:

  1. Evaluate the brightness needed: Determine how bright you want the area to be and choose a lighting device with an appropriate lumen output.
  2. Consider the direction of light: If you need focused illumination in a specific area, look for a fixture that has a high beam distance (candela) to ensure the light reaches where you need it.
  3. Think about energy efficiency: Compare the lumens per watt (luminous efficacy) of different lighting options to find one that provides both adequate brightness and energy savings.
  4. Assess color temperature: Different applications may require different color temperatures to create the desired ambiance or enhance visibility. Look for lighting devices with adjustable color temperature settings if needed.
  5. Consider maintenance requirements: LED bulbs generally have longer lifespans compared to traditional bulbs, reducing the frequency of replacement and maintenance tasks.
  6. Keep safety in mind: Depending on your project, you may need fixtures with specific certifications or regulations (e.g., IP ratings for outdoor use). Ensure any lighting device you choose meets these requirements.

Examples and Comparisons

We will compare the brightness of a candle to that of an LED bulb, and also explore how candela, lumens, and wattages are related.

Candle vs LED bulb

Candles and LED bulbs are both used for lighting, but they have some important differences. Candles give off a warm, flickering light that can create a cozy atmosphere. On the other hand, LED bulbs produce a bright and steady light. When it comes to brightness, an LED bulb is much brighter than a candle. In terms of energy efficiency, LED bulbs are more efficient and last longer than candles. So if you want a bright and long-lasting source of light, go for an LED bulb. But if you prefer a softer and more traditional ambiance, candles might be the better choice for you

Candela, Lumens, and Wattages

Candela, lumens, and wattages are all used to measure different aspects of lighting devices. Candela is a unit that measures the visible intensity of light emitted in a specific direction. Lumens, on the other hand, measure the total amount of light emitted by a fixture in all directions. Wattages, on the other hand, indicate how much power is used by a lighting device. It’s important to understand these measurements when evaluating lighting fixtures because they help determine the brightness and intensity of the light produced. By considering candela, lumens, and wattages together, DIY enthusiasts can make informed decisions about which lighting devices will best suit their needs.

Additional Resources and Benefits

Explore online tools and calculators for easy conversions between candela and lumens, stay up to date with lighting regulations and standards, and discover reliable sources to further expand your knowledge on light measurement and photometry.

Tools and calculators for conversions

There are helpful tools and calculators available to help DIY enthusiasts with conversions between candela and lumens. These resources make it easier to understand and compare the intensity and brightness of different lighting devices. Some of these tools include:

  1. Conversion apps: There are various mobile apps that allow users to quickly convert candela to lumens and vice versa. These apps can be downloaded onto smartphones or tablets for easy access on the go.
  2. Online calculators: Several websites offer online calculators specifically designed for candela to lumen conversions. Users can input the values they have and obtain accurate results in a matter of seconds.
  3. Reference guides: Many lighting manufacturers provide reference guides that include conversion charts for different light sources. These guides can be handy references when trying to determine the appropriate candela or lumen output for specific applications.
  4. Light meter devices: Light meters are handheld devices that measure the illuminance or luminous intensity of a light source. They can be used to obtain accurate readings in lux or candela, helping DIY enthusiasts determine if their lighting fixtures are producing the desired level of brightness.

Regulations and standards

It’s important to consider regulations and standards when it comes to lighting devices. There are guidelines in place to ensure the safety and quality of these products. For example, there may be regulations on the maximum number of lumens allowed for certain applications, such as residential lighting or outdoor fixtures.

Additionally, standards can help determine the efficiency and performance of lighting devices. By following these regulations and adhering to standards, you can make sure that your chosen lighting device meets the necessary requirements for your DIY projects.

Reliable sources for further knowledge

Here are some reliable sources of further knowledge about lumens and candelas:

  1. Lighting Manufacturers: Many lighting manufacturers provide detailed information on their websites about the measurements and specifications of their products. Check out reputable lighting manufacturers’ websites for in-depth information on lumens and candlepower.
  2. Lighting Design Guides: There are various lighting design guides available online that offer comprehensive explanations of different lighting concepts, including lumens and candelas. These guides can provide DIY enthusiasts with a wealth of knowledge on lighting measurements and applications.
  3. Lighting Forums and Communities: Engaging in online forums and communities dedicated to lighting can be a great way to learn from experienced professionals and fellow DIY enthusiasts. These platforms often have discussions, Q&A sessions, and resources that cover topics like lumens, candelas, and practical applications.
  4. Photometric Data Sheets: When purchasing lighting fixtures or bulbs from reputable manufacturers, they often provide photometric data sheets along with the product. These sheets contain detailed information about light output, beam angles, intensity distribution, and other relevant measurements.


In conclusion, understanding the difference between candela and lumens is important when it comes to choosing the right lighting for different applications. Candela measures the intensity of light emitted in a specific direction, while lumens measure the total amount of light given off by a lighting device.

By knowing these distinctions, DIY enthusiasts can make informed decisions about brightness and reach for their lighting needs.


1. What is the difference between Candela and Lumens?

Candela shows surface brightness or luminance, while lumens measure total light output or total luminous flux of a light fixture.

2. How can I tell if a light beam is brighter using Candela or Lumens?

Candela rates the lighted surface in one direction, while lumens rate the whole light from a lamp on all sides.

3. Why should I consider both Candela and Lumens when choosing lighting for a room?

Thinking about both candela and lumens helps to choose lights with better brightness (luminance) for your needs that also use energy well (luminous efficacy).

4. How do radiant flux and luminous flux play into understanding candela vs lumens?

While luminous flux measures how much of the radiant flux our eyes can see as visible light in terms of lumens; candela considers only part of this visible beam to gauge its brightness or illuminating power per unit area.

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