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How Many Lumens Do I Need for a Desk Lamp?

How many lumens do I need for a desk lamp? As you well know, Lumens, generally, are the units for measuring the brightness of the light. More lumens translate to brighter light. Lumens have become the new way that has been adopted to measure a bulb’s light output. It is even more precise compared to the previous unit-watt. Whereas lumens measure the brightness of light, watts indicate the amount of energy required for illumination production.

There are other measurements, such as Lux, but since we’re talking about desk lamps, it is not very important. This measurement is mainly considered in the video and photo business industry.

how many lumens do i need for a desk lamp

Factors to consider how many lumens you need for a desk lamp

Many times, the problem may not be having low light, but having too much. The amount of lumens you need for optimal performance of tasks mainly depends on the lamp in question.

#1. Tasks at hand

Now, for a desk lamp that is mainly used for writing and reading purposes, then 450 lumens will be ideal. But if you are using the light for more delicate tasks, for instance, if you are a repairman looking at tiny parts, or a heavy-duty drafting tasks, not less than 800 lumens is ideal, 1100 lumens is highly recommended.

#2. Age

You also need to know that the older you are, the more light you need. That should be put into consideration when determining the number of lumens you need for your desk lamp. If you are below 55 years of age, around 450 lumens are suitable for you. If you are any older than this, then you need 800 lumens.

#3. Wattage

The different types of bulbs, from incandescent and CFL to LEDs, the wattage equivalencies may vary. The manufacturers may also not be concrete, and conversions from wattage to lumens are not very reliable due to the absence of a formal conversion method; that is why it is recommended that you start thinking lumens when searching for an ideal bulb.

#4. Extras

Other factors determine the ideal amount of lumens you need for your desk lamp. These include the distance between your work surface and light, and color scheme and design of your room.

Personal preference may also influence the amount in that if you want soft light or daylight, a brighter room rather than dim, the number of lumens will vary. The type of bulb you are using for your desk lamp will also affect the number of lumens.

If you are still unsure, you can refer to the IESNA Lighting Handbook that allocates the number of lumens depending on the size of the room. For example, for desks and task lighting, 50 lumens per square foot are recommended, or for floors, 20 lumens per square foot is recommended. With this, you will be able to determine the number of lumens, not only for your desk lamp but also for your entire house.

Role of color temperature and color rendering index (CRI)

Besides lumens, you also need to be keen on factors such as color rendering index (CRI) and color temperature. These light attributes work hand in hand for optimal performance and enhanced productivity. When it comes to the type of bulbs, it is crucial to choose the ideal one. LEDs are highly recommended as they are not only cost-effective but are also safer and longer-lasting.


The number of lumens that you need for your desk lamp solely depends on the task at hand. For more demanding tasks, more light is required, thus more lumens. The converse is also true. Moreover, age, personal preference, type of bulb, and many more, as discussed above, influence the amount of lumens ideal for your desk lamp.