Seeing the light – the difference between lux and lumens

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between lux and lumens when you’re shopping for a headlight? Did you think they were the same thing but with different names? Did you not give it any thought whatsoever? Or did you think it was something too tricky to figure out? Fear not, here at Gloworm we’ve got you covered – read on as we shine a light (excuse the pun!) on all things lux and lumens.

 What is the difference between lux and lumens?

To start with, both lumens and lux describe properties of light.

Lumens is a measure of luminous flux, meaning the total amount of light that is emitted from a headlamp. Lumens refer to the amount of visible light (to the human eye) from the light source.

Lux measures illuminance – that is, the intensity of the light source. Lux measures the illumination of a surface at a specific distance, rather than just the brightness of the LED (that’s the lumen count). 

Put another way, lumens are how much light is given off by your light source and lux determines how bright your riding surface will be.

The higher the lumen value, the more light is provided by the headlamp. Lux values give information about the brightness of a point in a specified area.

And if you really want to get into the nitty-gritty, one lux is the equivalent of one lumen per square metre. So if 100 lumens were concentrated onto a metre-square surface, the illumination level would be 100 lux.

If 1,000 lumens were concentrated onto that same square metre, the illumination level would be 1,000 lux. And if those 1,000 lumens were spread out over ten square metres, they would produce an illuminance level of only 100 lux.

With us so far?

Using lux and lumens to determine your next headlight purchase

While it may seem technical, knowing the difference between lux and lumens can help you know what to look for when you’re in the market for your next bike light.

Lux will determine what the human eye sees as the brightness of a beam. If the light output is focused on a small area, this appears to us to be a bright light. If the light is dispersed in a wide beam over a larger area, we see this as a weaker light.

And while you won’t see lux ratings as part of headlight specs, it’s still handy to know and can help you adjust your app settings when setting up your Gloworm light (see below for more on this).

Ultimately, you want to know that the beam of your light is effective for the type of riding you’re doing so that you can see and be seen.

 Which light is right for me?

For night riding, we recommend you start with lights that are a minimum of 1,200 lumens.

The Gloworm Alpha Plus spits out 1,200 lumens and is bright enough to illuminate your local trails. It provides enough runtime for up to four hours of night riding and weighing in at only 69 grams (light only) it is an affordable and high-quality option to get you started.

It sets the benchmark for quality, lightweight, and affordable night riding and is the best bicycle headlight for beginners (in our humble opinion!).

If you’re wanting to step things up, the Gloworm X2 (G2.0) is our most robust X2 yet, with a polycarbonate shell battery, fatigue resistant/detachable cable and waterproof rating. You can take this light anywhere and everywhere and it will keep coming back for more.

And if you’re an experienced night rider, or you’re looking to upgrade, then our Generation Two XS range will have you out on the trails every night. Starting from 2800 lumens, these lights are lightweight and can be paired with our Gloworm App for ease of use.

 App-y days (or nights!)

The Gloworm Link Mobile App makes customisation of your light simple and convenient. Link allows you to select between one and four light levels and the type of light pattern for each level – fixed or flashing. You can program the intensity of the fixed beam from 1-100% or choose from one of three flashing patterns. Link will also provide the current battery charge and diagnostic information.

Two-light setup

Here at Gloworm we recommend a two mountain bike headlight setup because it gives you the flexibility of being well-lit in front of you, while having peace of mind that you’ll be able to see around the next corner.

The Gloworm Universal Mounting System provides unrivalled flexibility, allowing your light to be mounted to the helmet, bike, or even head strap.

 So there you have it the difference between lux and lumens and how this can help you when purchasing a Gloworm. We’ve got a huge selection of lights to suit any rider so be sure to check out our offerings online or get in touch with us at [email protected] and we’ll provide customised advice for what will suit you best.

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