How many lumens do your lights have?
This article provides information on why we don't list this data:
- A lumen is basically a measure of the white light output as seen by the human eye.
- A lumen varies based upon the area in which the light covers - for example, if a light has a rated lumen level of 100 in an area of 1 sq/ft, that lumen level drops to 10 lumens over a 10 sq/ft area. So, the distance from the light to the viewer or the light to a reflective surface, such as a flood light might put out, varies based on the distance. This means that a light with 1,000 lumens when looking directly at the light a foot away will be completely different that when viewed 50 feet away.
- Some lights are used reflectively, such as with floods and the surface texture and color can affect the light output. The most common example would be a flood light viewed after the light is reflected off a red brick wall - this dramatically affects the light output and color wave length seen by the viewer.
- A lumen is a measurement of white light output and does not take into account the brightness of each color within an RGB light. As we often use only a single color in a holiday display, the lumen level provides no reference as to the wavelength or brightness of that specific color.
- Within the holiday lighting market, it is extremely common for lumen specifications to be outright false, in particular from Chinese sellers. There are even some specifications where the lumen level is higher than electrically possible based on the power input.
So, how do you objectively compare lights for your display?
- There are a huge number of factors that come into play with RGB lighting and how "bright" a light looks:
- Distance from light to viewer
- Beam angle of light - e.g. 90 degrees vs 180 degrees
- Angle of lights when viewed by audience
- Spacing of lights
- Diffusion of lights
- Ambient light - street lights, car head lights, other lights within the display all "drown out" the brightness levels
How bright do the light need to be?
- Each display is going to be different but we recommend starting with increasing the darkness instead of increasing the brightness (or quantity) of lights:
- Remove any ambient light sources possible, this includes street lights, putting up signs for viewers of the display to "turn off car headlights" and porch lights
- Don't point any RGB light toward anything other than the eyeballs that will view the display. For example, if the viewers can't see the back of a megatree, don't put lights back there.
- Limit "all on" portions of sequences. It can be temping to want to put on all lights in your display as much as possible but this reduces the overall dynamic range of the lights. Turn on elements as needed and this will increase the "darkness" and make the lights that are on "brighter"
The need for additional brightness might not be the problem you think it is. It is extremely common for customers to actually dim down elements because many times lights can actually be overpowering. We have customers running lights at 30% of total output due to brightness issues. Additionally, running lights at a lower brightness also allows elements that use less power and/or less power injection.
When in doubt - purchase a sample of the lights and test them in your actual display where you can determine the exact impact and judge for yourself if the lights are bright or not bright enough for the intended project.