How Many Lumens For Desk Lamp?

Ever happened to you, that you bought a bulb or lamp with high wattage but it isn’t that bright?

Well, it is because you have been looking at the wrong unit for brightness. Watts actually only measures the energy use of a bulb, not its light output!

Lighting and brightness are all about lumens. Lumens (denoted by lm)are a measure of the total amount of visible light from a light source.

Hence, more lumens means more brightness.

Watts used to be a decent indicator of a bright bulb but with the introduction of the new energy-efficient LED technology, you can no longer rely upon a bulb’s wattage to indicate how bright it is.

So, as now you know what unit to look at when next time you go to buy lamps.

The next question is, how many lumens are required to see clearly?

This post tells about, to light up youe different activities clearly, how many lumens for desk lamp.

how many lumens for desk lamp

How to Determine the Number of Lumens Needed

To calculate how many lumens you need for a particular room. You need to start with measuring the dimensions of the room and then:

  • Multiply the width and height of the room to get the room’s square footage.
  • Establish the lumen requirement for your applications i.e you’ll need more brightness in the kitchen or bathroom than in the living room or bedroom and different requirements depending on whether you are a voracious reader or not etc.
  • On average, a 100 square foot living room will be luminous in around 1000-2000 lumens and a dining room will take 3000-4000 lumens. You can check the chart below to know the lumens for different commercial and residential spaces.
  • Additionally, if your room has dark walls and furnishings, add an extra 10 lumens per square foot.

Lumens Required Based on Type of Spaces and Applications

(for standard 100 square foot)

Room  TypeLumens Required
Living Room1000-2000
Dining Room3000-4000
Kitchen General3000-4000
Kitchen Sink and Stove7000-8000

How Many Lumens for Desk Lamp?

Currently, the standard for reading and learning is between 35-40 lumens per square foot.

Here are more details about the standard illuminance required for various activities done under a desk lamp:

  • Standard illuminance for reading: 50-55 lumens/ square foot.
  • Standard illuminance for study and research: 70-75 lumens/ square foot.
  • Standard illuminance for detailed jobs such as fine-grading, detailed watch-making, or crafting, etc: More than 100 lumens/ square foot.

How Many Lumens You Need For Various Purposes And Activities?

If you are in a situation that requires a flashlight, you would need one that is bright enough for the task in hand so that you won’t be fumbling around blindly in the dark.

Ultimately, different activities such as reading, camping, search, rescue, etc. require different amounts of brightness and lumens.

Here is the list of recommended lumen counts recommended based on the activity or use cases.

Activity or Use CaseRecommended Lumen Count (lm)
Outdoor Recreational Lighting8,000- 50,000
Interior Lighting200 -800
Exterior Accent Lighting90-150
Police and Security90-500
Search and Rescue >1000
Pathways and Steps20-60
Workbench100/sq foot
Eye Exams5-7

How Much Lumens You Need For Different Kinds of Lamps

1. For bedside lamp:

 A bedside lamp shouldn’t just be a source of light, but a gateway to relaxation. Hence, for ambient lighting choose a nightstand lamp with at least 400 lumens.

If you do reading, writing or other tasks in your bed, then choosing a lamp between 450 and 850 lumens is a better choice.

2. For reading lamp:

If you particularly enjoy reading and looking at small letters for hours, make sure you buy a reading lamp that has a lampshade, even light distribution, and lumens in between 800 to 1100 lumens.

For general purpose reading and writing, prefer a lamp with at least 450 lumens.

If you prefer reading at night time, you will need 25 to 50 lumens (per square meter) on your book surface to read without any eye strain.

Also, consider the light color and try to not buy too bright lamps(exceeding 800 lumens), if don’t want to strain your eyes.

3. For studying lamp:

As you will be spending a lot of your time, focusing on a particular area, try to choose a light color that mimics natural light.

A lamp that has a Kelvin scale around 4000-4500k will provide similar sunlight as natural sunlight.

As per lumen counts go, a general rule of thumb is that the desk lighting should be around 50 lumens per square foot.

Keeping the size of your study desk and its location buy one or 2 studying lamps.

4. For ambiance:

To calculate how many lumens you need for a room you first need to know the total area of the room.

Then you need to work out what’s room is used for i.r for a sitting room or bedroom – 10-20 lumens per square footage will be enough but for kitchen or bathroom you will need 70-80 lumens per square foot.

5. For SAD disorder:

SAD lamps are really helpful in mitigating the effects of seasonal depression as they have a very intense light source with a high color temperature that creates indirect sunlight.

If you want the best results, make sure to buy a SAD lightbox that has 10,000 Lumens per square foot which is roughly equivalent to the intensity of sunlight during the afternoon.


So far, you have understood what lumen is and how many lumens count you need based on activities you performing or space you are illuminating and of course, now you know how many lumens you need for your desk lamp.

Remember these figures or bookmark this article for the next time you go to buy lamps and bulbs for yourself.

And take care of your eyes!