A Guide to Footcandles

Below is a guide explaining what foot candles are and why they are important to know. We’ve answered some frequently asked questions and have provided a chart to help you determine how many footcandles you need for your application.

What is a Foot Candle?

A footcandle is a unit of measurement for determining the amount of light (or light intensity) on the surface of one square foot.

LED light footcandle

This is helpful when trying to determine how bright a light would be in your space. Especially when buying LED lights, it’s important to know how much light your facility needs and how much light a light bulb or fixture will actually provide in your space.

Why are Foot Candles Important?

It’s important to know how many foot candles you’re getting, because it doesn’t matter how bright a light may be in terms of lumens if it isn't going to properly illuminate your space. You have to consider other factors that could affect the foot candles such as the mounting height, the dimensions of the space, the spacing of your lights in conjunction with one another, etc. Resources like lighting layouts take into account all the necessary variables to help you determine how many foot candles you’d be getting and match you with the perfect lighting solution based on your needs.

What’s the Difference between Lumens and Foot Candles?

Lumens refers to the amount of light emitted from a light source. They are an indicator of how bright your light is while the foot candles indicate how much light a light source would deliver in your space. Now you may be wondering, how many lumens is a foot candle? Well, it’s not that simple. There’s a misconception that one foot candle is equal to 10.76 lumens. One foot candle is actually equal to 10.76 lux, the metric unit for the amount of light per square foot. There isn’t a simple 1-to-1 conversion to convert from the lumens a light provides to the foot candles it would provide since there are a multitude of factors involved, such as mounting height, how many of the lights will be used, the spacing of the lights, etc.

What’s the Difference between Wattage and Foot Candles?

The wattage of a light is only a measurement of the electricity the light uses whereas a foot candle is a measurement of the amount of light on a surface per square foot. The wattage of a light can help you determine the power consumption of the light over time, but if you’re wanting to know how much light a fixture would provide in your space, you would need to know the foot candles a light would deliver in your space.

How Many Foot Candles Do I Have?

In order to calculate the amount of foot candles you currently have, you would need a light meter. This device measures the light levels in a given space and knowing how much light you currently have can help you decide how much more or less light you’d prefer.

How Many Foot Candles Do I Need?

You can use the charts below as a frame of reference for the footcandles needed for different spaces like warehouses, parking lots, storage facilities, and more. Different spaces' needs can vary as areas with higher or even more detailed activity can require more footcandles whereas a space with lower activity, like a seldomly used storage facility, would require less foot candles. 

Need Help?

It can be difficult figuring out what light is best for your space, but that’s why RevolveLED has a team of experts to help take the guesswork out of shopping. Request a free lighting layout from our lighting specialist team. Find your lights today!

Application Average Foot Candles Needed Recommended Light


30 - 100

Bay Light or Strip Light


20 - 50

Bay Light or Strip Light

Storage Facility

5 - 30

Bay Light or Strip Light

Home Garage

5 - 20

Bay Light or Strip Light

Parking Lot

5 - 20

Area Light

Parking Deck


Canopy Light or Vapor Tight

Gas Station

10 - 30

Canopy Light or Area Light


30 - 50

Panel Light

Retail Stores

25 - 100

Bay Light or Panel Light


5 - 10

Strip Light or Vapor Tight

Building Perimeter

5 - 20

Wall Pack Light


30 - 50

Panel Light


20 - 100

Flood Light


5 - 20

Barn Light or Area Light

Sports Lighting

See Below

Flood Light or Stadium Light

How Many Foot Candles Do I Need for Sports Lighting?

With any sports related activity (whether it’s baseball, football, tennis, etc.), the calculation for foot candles becomes more intricate as you’re taking into account the classification level on top of the sport itself. To determine the foot candles needed for any given sports field, please see our Classification of Sports Fields & Facilities  for the foot candles needed for sports lighting.
FootcandlesLed lightingLumens

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