Simplifying Lighting: What Are Footcandles and How Many Do You Need?

Simplifying Lighting: What Are Footcandles and How Many Do You Need?

Footcandles chart

Recommended Minimum Footcandles

Embracing any new technology can be difficult at first. LED has proven to be no exception to this adjustment process. Old lighting technologies limited the range of wattage, efficiency, and customization; unfortunately, though, we haven’t really had other options. LED, however, is more efficient and powerful than its predecessors. A 6–9w LED light can easily provide the same amount of light as a 60w incandescent.

It seems almost too good to be true, and we understand how making the switch can be a confusing and costly process if you’re not sure what metrics to look for. One of the most common conversations we have with are customers is about footcandles. So… what are footcandles and how many do you need?

Footcandles vs. Wattage: The Numbers Matter

While we may be conditioned to pick out replacement light fixtures based on wattage, it’s actually not the best way to choose a light fixture. If you were to replace your 60w incandescent bulbs with a 60w LED (or 20w, even), you would end up with way more light than you were expecting. Wattage only measures how much electricity a fixture uses. Since they are so efficient, LED requires much less energy to produce the same amount of light.

So how do you determine which light fixture is going to be the best replacement if you can’t just swap them out, watt for watt, like the old days?

The actual measurement of how much light a lamp emits is referred to as “lumens.” However, the total lumens produced by a fixture, or “light source lumens,” is not always equivalent to the number of lumens that are actually delivered. One way to measure the amount of light thrown from a fixture is by “footcandles” (fc). When choosing an LED light, two of the most important data points to consider are lumens and footcandles. You can see a guide of recommended footcandles here.

Footcandle diagram

Footcandle Diagram

Ye Olde Measuring Tricks

The concept of footcandles is older than electricity itself. It is commonly believed that, in the days of beeswax candles, someone decided to create a “standard candle.” The light thrown from that candle became the standard for “candlepower.” Since then, one footcandle has been known as approximately one lumen per square foot.

In the lighting industry, footcandles are a fairly common unit of measurement used to determine how much light will be optimal for work spaces, retail venues, buildings, or outdoor spaces. By examining the specifications of your lighting project and comparing LED options with your current fixtures, you can get a better idea of what LED fixtures will be best for your space.

Find the Right LED Light Fixture with the Right Lumens

It may seem unbelievable, but determining how many footcandles your project needs doesn’t have to be a complicated math problem. These days, we have the advantage of technology that will evaluate footcandle data, spacial dimensions, lumen efficacy, and wattage to determine how a light source will function in your space. The experts at Access Fixtures are trained to perform these photometric analyses and help you find the optimal solution for your lighting project.

Speak to an Access Fixtures Lighting Specialist about Choosing the right Fixture

Struggling to figure out which LED light will be the best replacement for your traditional fixtures?
Call the lighting specialists at Access Fixtures today! We can help you find the right fixture to light your commercial, industrial, or sports facility with just the right amount of footcandles. Contact us at 800-468-9925.