Lumens vs. Candela, what is the difference?

 When it comes to lighting, lumens and candela are the two metrics that are often confused. In this article, we’ll explain the differences and how this will help you select the perfect light for the job.

Lumens: Total Light Output

Lumens are the most common unit for measuring all the visible light from a given light source. Imagine the bare bulb or LED from a light inside the center of a large sphere. When all the light is measured inside the sphere it gives you the total lumen value of that light source. If the goal is to light a large area, lumens is the crucial metric for selecting the correct light.

Candela: Peak Beam Intensity

Candela is the standard unit for measuring peak beam intensity. Let’s imagine the large sphere from the previous example. Now, instead of the light being projected evenly over the entire surface inside the sphere, focus all that available light onto a specific section. This gives you the candela rating. If you need to project light in one direction or over a long distance, then candela is the crucial metric for selecting the correct light.

For example, sporting arenas use very high-lumen lights to bathe the playing field with a complete blanket of even lighting with no focused “hot spots.” The opposite end of the spectrum would be a police cruiser spotlight with a very high candela rating to pinpoint a suspect or a distant dark corner.

Choosing the Right Light for You

If you need even light distribution in an area, you should primarily consider lumens. On the other hand, if you require a focused, directional light source, then candela becomes a more critical factor. The ideal situation would be to combine both lighting styles into a single product. These types of lights are referred to as dual-light products. A spotlight features a tight, focused beam for distant illumination (candela) and a soft flood light to illuminate the area directly around you (lumens).

The Original Dual Light

Nightstick, a provider of professional LED products for industrial environments, firefighting, and law enforcement worldwide, created the original dual-light product in 2007. Often imitated but never equaled, Nightstick dual light products are the gold standard by which all others are measured. Visit to find the perfect dual light for your job site.



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