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The Benefits of Measuring Light with Footcandles


As a relatively new industry, lighting can sometimes be difficult to understand or quantify. For example, the term Footcandle is commonly used when measuring the amount of light on a given surface. But what exactly is a footcandle, and how can this be used in a practical application?

Well for starters, we can no longer use Wattage as a reliable way of measuring the brightness of a light, as LED technology is continuously improving and changing to become more and more efficient. As a result, a 60W Incandescent Light Bulb will not be nearly as bright as a 60W LED Light Bulb. So how do we quantify the intensity of light needed on a particular surface, especially for applications that require specific lighting levels like task lighting or signage lighting? That’s where footcandles come into play.

Long before the advent of electricity, footcandles were used as a way of standardizing the light output from candlelight. Simply put, 1 Footcandle is equal to 1 Lumen per Square Foot on a surface. With this basic formula in mind, we are able to determine the average footcandle and quantify brightness on a given surface!

Where using footcandles really shines is its ability to be used regardless of the lighting source. As previously mentioned, this was originally used to measure candlelight, but has since been used in fluorescent, metal halide, and even LED lighting! This versatility makes retrofitting projects and LED conversion much easier, since the same output and result is measured to determine a 1:1 replacement.

While this may still cause some confusion, thankfully HTM Lighting Solutions offers full photometric lighting layouts for both sign and parking lot lighting to ensure the proper lighting levels! Please feel free to reach out to us with your next lighting project or any questions by giving us a call at (813) 649-8899 or by emailing us at

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  • Michael Tomas