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Username Post: How bright is a Lumen? Or how many do I need?        (Topic#342689)
Senior Member
Posts: 1604

Loc: Whitewater, CO
Reg: 05-25-01
02-16-17 07:50 AM - Post#2676986    

At the autoparts stores and I notice that they are selling LED driving lights.

I look at them and notice that they start at about 5,000 Lumens and that a light bar (say...2' across) is 20,000 Lumens.  I have a flashlight that has 1,000 Lumens.  So, when I see the above 5,000 Lumen light, I think...Welcome to Fruita (WTF), that ain't worth having.

Back in the day...I knew that a headlight was ABOUT 55 watts and a light that had 100,000 candlepower was just a bit brighter.  100 watts was real bright and made a huge dif.  A KC Daylighter is/was 385 watts.

So, how bright, in Lumens of a light do I need to make a dif?  This would be on a buggy and/or off-road application...or maybe on a deserted 2-lane when I might want to drive 80.


Honored Member
Posts: 27764
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Reg: 11-26-02
02-17-17 05:31 PM - Post#2677178    
    In response to Stinky

The difficulty is that you are wanting to compare apples and platypuses.

Lumens and candlepower are the same type of unit and can be directly converted with a simple constant (1 lumen = about .08 cp). However, reflector lamps like headlights and driving lights are rated in BEAM candlepower, which is a whole other ballgame. I honestly don't know if any direct conversion formula is available, or even possible.


Those who choose an automatic transmission want transportation. Those who choose a manual transmission want to drive.

"14th Year" Platinum Supporting Member & Moderator
Posts: 14575
Age: 72
Loc: St. Louis, MO
Reg: 12-11-03
02-20-17 10:14 PM - Post#2677751    
    In response to raycow

Ray is correct. Too many non-understandable terms (candle power, lux, lumens, nits, nats, foot lamberts etc.) to worry about. Rule of thumb is that a standard 100 watt incandescent lamp produces roughly 1600 lumens. The good news is that an LED array at that light output only consumes roughly 15 watts of power.

A 5000 lumen array should consume only 50 watts. At 13.8 volts, it should only draw 3.6 amps of current. The new LED arrays are focused and very efficient and are not affected so much by voltage drops like filament lamps are.

A standard H1 bulb in a focused housing produces 1450 lumens at 12.0 volts and is a 55 watt lamp.

Tom 65-70 Full Size Team Moderator

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