Lux is an important measurement that reflects illuminance—the amount of light that shines on a surface. Along with lumens, understanding lux is essential when shopping for light-emitting devices such as light bulbs and torches.
While lumens measure the amount of light emitted in all directions within an environment, lux represents the level of light falling on a single surface. If you want to measure lux accurately, you’ll need a device known as a lux meter.
What is a lux meter?
A lux meter is a device that measures the intensity of light in a given space. These specialized instruments cover a range of applications, from measuring the light levels within a room to the amount of light falling on a specific object.
You might be familiar with lux meters if you work in industries such as photography, medicine, astronomy, or architecture. They’re also useful within commercial buildings such as offices and schools, or on worksites for safety reasons.
Lux meters range from simple to complex. The most basic meters measure and display a light intensity reading (i.e. lux). More advanced lux meters come with a data logger or internal memory, allowing them to record and store measurements for later use.
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Some industrial lux meters also include dedicated software allowing the user to analyze the device’s readings more deeply and transfer the data between devices. Both analogue and digital lux meters are available, although the digital variety is significantly more popular today.
How lux meters work
A standard lux meter comprises three elements:
- Light sensor or photocell
As light falls onto the sensor, it is converted into an electric current. The amount of current measured reflects the degree of light striking the photocell or sensor. The lux meter will read the amount of current, calculate the value, and display it on its in-built screen (or dial for analogue meters).
Common business uses for lux meters
One of the most common uses for a lux meter is to ensure the appropriate light levels within a building for comfort and safety.
You might need to measure lux within a:
Within the same building, different rooms might require different levels of illumination. For example, for visibility and safety, a hotel’s public areas should maintain lux levels between 220 and 1000lx. Guest rooms, however, are often dimmer for comfort and privacy, so a lux level of 100 to 200lx would suit.
Lux meters also have applications on a smaller scale. Smartphone displays, televisions, and photographic devices feature lux meters within their hardware as part of their auto-brightness systems.
You might also use a lux meter to ensure displays (such as in exhibitions or museums) are thoroughly illuminated for visibility, but without causing discomfort for the viewer. In the same way, they’re used to measure the light levels around machinery or on production lines to keep workers safe.
To summarise, lux meters are specialised instruments designed for measuring the amount of light falling on a surface. Your business will benefit from investing lux meters if you work in any industry where