A lumen is a unit of measurement for light. We use lumens to measure the amount of light produced by a light source. For example, a 100-watt light bulb produces about 1,300-1,500 lumens.
Watts only measures the amount of energy used to produce light, not the amount of light emitted. Lumens are a helpful way to measure light because they consider the human eye’s response to light. With the advent of new technologies, manufacturers realise that comparing products in watts is not helpful. Product packaging is beginning to describe the lumen output alongside the traditional wattage values.
So, how many lumens are suitable for a living room? Let’s take a look.
How many lumens should I use for a living room?
How bright you want your living room to be will depend on your personal preferences and how you use your living room.
If you primarily like to sit and read, you’ll know that you want lots of available light to help you easily read the pages and not strain your eyes. In this scenario, we’d recommend 700 -800 lumens in ambient lighting, which would be a 60W to 75W incandescent bulb or 10-13W LED, with a floor lamp or similar to provide task lighting where you need it. Alternatively, go for a 1000-lumen overhead light (100W incandescent, 18W LED) – but be aware that this leaves the room very bright at all times, so consider more flexible options. Bear in mind that for larger rooms, you may wish to consider more than one light source to more evenly distribute the light, rather than relying on an overly bright bulb in the centre of the room.
On the other hand, if you prefer your lounge to become a home cinema, with your OLED TV, surround sound speakers, and light strips behind the screen, you may be happier with dimmer lights. We wouldn’t recommend going any lower than 700 lumens (60W incandescent, 10W LED), or you’ll find the room dim when you want to use it for other purposes, but invest in a few dimmable LED bulbs for the best of both worlds.
Of course, the exact number of lumens you need will also depend on the specific style of your living room. If you have a lot of dark colours in your decor, you’ll want to go for a higher number of lumens to help offset the darkness and make the room feel brighter. If you have a very light and airy living room with white walls and pale furnishings, you may be able to get away with using fewer lumens.
What types of lights are best for living rooms?
The best light fittings and shades are the ones that suit your preferred look.
However, some light shades will block a lot more light from being emitted than others, so it’s worth factoring in the lumen output of your chosen bulb. If you like the look of a significant piece, like this Forestier Opium hanging light, it may be worth experimenting with brighter bulbs than you would typically use, as it will drink a lot of the bulb’s output.
Comparatively, this Aluminor Sacha hanging light is designed to spread diffuse white light around the room and is ideal for those who want to use a lower power bulb with a shade and still maximise the output.
The number of lumens you need in your living room will depend on the style of the room and your personal preferences. A good rule of thumb is to start with around 700 lumens and adjust from there according to how bright you want the room to be.