Useful Definations


Illuminance is the total luminous flux which falls on a surface and it shows the intensity of the incident light. The value is affected by the wavelength of the emitted light and the distance between the light source and the illuminated area. The human eye is most sensitive to light that has a wavelength of around 550nm (amber) and thus an amber light source will have more lux than a blue one (for example). This is called the luminosity function.

The larger the distance between the light source and the illuminated area the lower the illuminance will be. Below we show some examples of optimal illuminace for day to day activities :

Activity Illumination on task surface(lux)
Public areas with dark surroundings 20 - 50
Working areas where visual tasks are only occasionally performed (storage rooms) 100 - 150
Easy Office Work, Classes 250
Normal Office Work, PC Work, Study Library, Groceries, Show Rooms, Laboratories 500
Supermarkets, Mechanical Workshops, Office Landscapes 750
Normal Drawing Work, Quality control 1,000
Detailed Drawing Work, Very Detailed Mechanical Works (watchmaking) 1500 - 2000
Performance of visual tasks of low contrast and very small size for prolonged periods of time 2000 - 5000
Performance of very prolonged and exacting visual tasks 5000 - 10000
Performance of very special visual tasks of extremely low contrast and small size 10000 - 20000


The viewangle shows the angle of radiation for a light source. For example a view angle on 30 deg means the light has a shape of a cone and its borders form a 15 deg angle with the center axis. A change in the view angle affects the luminous intensity of an LED (candela) but not the luminous flux (lumen).

Viewing angle is actually the most important element in the performance of a light source. A very wide viewing angle means that a large percentage of light ends up going in non-useful directions ( for example: up). Incasing the light source and using a reflector has limited efficiency.

By taking into the account both viewing angles and lumen output the comparison between LEDs and other light sources looks like this:

Light source Lm Lm/W Viewing angle Usefull viewing angle* Useful lm
CREE X-RE R2 White LED 242 92 90 100% 242
100 Watt incandescent 1200 12 360 33% 396
25 Watt Halogen 260 9 360 33% 85.8
15 W T8 neon 1350 90 360 33% 445.5

* without case or reflector

Viewing angle and the environment

Next time when you go out at night look up in the sky. Do you see stars, or the Milky Way? In you live in a big city the answer is: only a white glow. For people that live outside a big city in North America, Europe, India, Japan or China the answer will be: a white glow and a few stars. The Milky Way can only be seen from remote regions or non-developed countries.

The reason? Bad lighting design and use of sources with ultra wide view angles creates light pollution, light that is wasted in the sky. The effects of such pollution are wide, they affect animals and insects and also our sleep.