Lighting Calculator

Created by Bogna Szyk
Reviewed by Małgorzata Koperska, MD
Last updated: May 09, 2022

If you resent the idea of lighting calculations and aren't sure where to start, we've got you covered. This foot candle calculator gives you the optimal level of illumination for each room in your home and determines how many light fixtures you need to achieve it. Additionally, we will provide you with foolproof lighting calculation formulas that make the whole planning process a breeze!

How many lumens per square foot do I need?

In the first step of your calculations, you need to choose the type of area and activity that you want to illuminate. Simply select one of the options from the list, and our lighting calculator will automatically determine the optimal level of illumination in lux or foot candles (that is, how much light should be incident on the surface). Intuitively, ambient light in the bedroom shouldn't affect our preparations to sleep time and won't be as intensive as the light required for sewing.

The next thing you need to determine is the illuminated area. In the case of a bedroom or a bathroom, it will simply be the total area of the room. If you're trying to figure out LED lighting for your kitchen counter, the illuminated area will be calculated as the length of the counter multiplied by its width.

Once you know all these values, the foot candle calculator will determine how many lumens you need in total. We use the following equation:

lumens=luxarea\text{lumens} = \text{lux} \cdot \text{area}

You can use illumination units of lux or foot candles. If you want to recalculate between these units, remember that one foot-candle equals 10.764 lux10.764\ \text{lux}.

Also, check out our lumens to watts calculator if you're curious about how many lumens various light bulbs produce under a given wattage.

Lighting calculation formula

Once you know how many lumens you need, you can start figuring out how many light bulbs will suffice to illuminate your surface. To do it, use the formula below:

bulbs=lumensBL\text{bulbs} = \frac{\text{lumens}}{\text{BL}}

BL stands for the number of lumens that a light bulb emits. You can usually find this number on the bulb packaging. It's a much better indicator of the bulb's luminosity than the wattage, as LED lights often need less power than regular light bulbs.

Using the foot candle calculator: an example

  1. Choose the area of the house that you want to illuminate. Let's say you're planning the lighting for your kitchen, including the kitchen counter.

  2. Check the optimal lighting level. For the whole kitchen, it is 108 lux, and for the counter (detailed tasks) - 538 lux538\ \text{lux}.

  3. Determine the dimensions of your illuminated space. The whole kitchen is a rectangle of length 4 m and width 2.5 m, so you can calculate the area as

A1=42.5=10 m2A_1 = 4 \cdot 2.5 = 10\ \text{m}^2

The counter is 4 meters long and 60 cm wide:

A2=40.6=2.4 m2A_2 = 4 \cdot 0.6 = 2.4\ \text{m}^2

  1. Multiply the required illumination level by the area to figure out how many lumens you need:

L1=10810=1080 lumensL_1 = 108 \cdot 10 = 1080\ \text{lumens}

L2=5382.4=1291 lumensL_2 = 538 \cdot 2.4 = 1291\ \text{lumens}

  1. Then, choose the type of a light bulb you want to use. Let's assume you're using a standard bulb that emits 800 lumens for the kitchen and small LED lights that emit 200 lumens each above the counter.

  2. Divide the total number of lumens by the efficiency of the bulb and round up to figure out the number of bulbs you need:

n1=10808002 bulbsn_1 = \frac{1080 }{800} \rightarrow 2\ \text{bulbs}

n2=12912007 bulbsn_2 = \frac{1291}{200} \rightarrow 7\ \text{bulbs}

You will need two light bulbs (800 lumens each) to illuminate the whole kitchen and additional 7 LED lights (200 lumens each) above the counter.

If you're wondering how much you'll pay for electricity when using all of this lighting, take a look at the electricity cost calculator!


How do I calculate the lighting for a room?

To calculate the lighting of an area:

  1. Measure the dimensions of the surface of interest.
  2. Compute the area of the surface.
  3. Calculate the lumens required using the formula
    lumens = lux × area

The lux is a measurement of the received light per area unit. The lumens is a unit that measures the amount of light emitted by a light source.

How many lumens do I need to light a studio 4 meter by 5 meter studio?

About 6,500 lumens. To calculate this result:

  1. Compute the area of the room:
    area = 4 m × 5 m = 20 m²
  2. Choose the right amount of lux you need. For a studio, the recommended value is 323 lx.
  3. Find the result using the formula:
    lux = lumens × area = 323 lx × 20 m² = 6,460 lm

If you plan to use lightbulbs with an intensity of 1600 lm, you'll need five of them.

What is the best lighting for a bedroom?

A bedroom must have different lighting for different uses:

  • For bedtime use, you will need a lower amount of lumens. A good approximation is 54 lx per square meter.
  • For reading or other activities, the lighting must be higher. You can use up to 430 lx per square meter.
  • For specific tasks (sewing, other hobbies), the lighting must rise to almost 540 lx.

This amount of light can be spread over multiple lightbulbs.

What is the difference between lumen and lux?

The lumen is a unit of luminous flux; lumens correspond to the amount of light emitted by a source as a lightbulb or a candle, regardless of direction.

Lux is used to measure the amount of light shining on a surface. A high amount of lux corresponds to a brightly lit surface.

Lux and lumens are related by the formula lumens = lux × area.

Bogna Szyk
Lighting type
Desk lighting
Required illumination
Illuminated area
Light bulbs
Required lumens
Light bulb type
lm / bulb
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