Commercial Grade Solar Lights: Guide to Watts, Lumens and Foot Candles – Part 1
Lighting up parks, communities and other pedestrian areas at night has a significant impact on crime, traffic, and satisfaction. Studies have established that a welcoming and safe environment are key in the success of any park or public site. Bright lighting allows daytime activities to extend into the evening hours (sports, walking, etc.) while increasing safety, where poorly designed park lighting may increase certain types of crime and vandalism.
Getting there with traditional lighting solutions can be complicated with a high price tag, considering the trenching, wiring, and digging needed to make it happen, and of course the monthly energy bills.
Commercial solar lighting has made significant strides over the past few years. Today, beautifully designed, durable, and bright commercial grade lamp post and other solar lights solutions are a valid, cost-efficient solution to light up your parks, streets, and communities.
When it comes to choosing commercial solar lighting, terms like Watts, Lumens, and Foot Candle might be confusing to most customers. Watts, Lumens, and Foot Candle are all terms that often used when describing the level of brightness a light source emits, which is key consideration to many when choosing the right commercial solar lighting for applications such as neighborhood street lighting, parks, community playgrounds, pedestrian areas, and security lighting. However, there is often some confusion when using these terms. In this blog we will demystify these key terms and guide you what to look for when the right commercial solar lighting that fits your needs.
Basic Solar Lighting Terminology: Watts, Lumens, Foot Candles
In terms of basic solar lighting terminology, there is often confusion between Watts and Lumens. Watts is a unit of power. It refers to the energy used when powering a light source. Lumens refer to the light’s brightness.
Lumens is the term used to describe the total amount of light emitted by a light source. With that said, more Lumens mean the light is brighter; fewer Lumens mean the light is dimmer. Wattage merely indicates the amount of energy it uses and doesn’t determine how bright a bulb is.
This confusion between Watts and Lumens originates back to when we only used traditional incandescent bulbs. The higher the Wattage rating, the more light emitted from the incandescent bulb. Most will assume that a 100W bulb is far brighter than a 40W bulb, but today there are so many different types of light bulbs to choose from that it’s hard to use Wattage ratings to figure out how bright a light bulb will be. LEDs, for example, are all more efficient than incandescent bulbs and therefore require less watts, so it’s important to remember that only using Watts to evaluate a light’s brightness won’t be accurate.
The Foot Candle, (or Lux used in the metric system), refers to how much light actually “falls” on the surface and measures how effectively a surface is being lit. The measurements for Foot Candles are as follows: 1 Foot Candle= 1 Lumen per square foot (and 1 Lux= 1 Lumen per square meter).
Foot Candle is the Key Lighting Metric
Foot Candle is really the key metric to look for and compare commercial solar light products more than Lumens. Calculating the Foot Candle is the right way to evaluate how intense light is within an area, considering there are other factors than bulb brightness when choosing commercial solar lights. Foot Candle also takes into account how high the light is placed and what the fixture angle. Now that we understand the difference between Watts, Lumens and Foot Candle (or Lux) we can apply this knowledge to make more educated decisions on what type of commercial lights best fit our needs. In Part 2 of this blog, we will discuss what to look for when making our decision.