SI derived unit of illuminance
For other uses, see Lux (disambiguation).


A lux meter for measuring illuminance

General information Unit system


Unit of





1 lx in ...... is equal to ...

   SI base units


   US customary units

   0.0929 fc

   CGS units

   10−4 ph

The lux (symbol: lx) is the unit of illuminance, or luminous flux per unit area, in the International System of Units (SI). It is equal to one lumen per square metre. In photometry, this is used as a measure of the intensity, as perceived by the human eye, of light that hits or passes through a surface. It is analogous to the radiometric unit watt per square metre, but with the power at each wavelength weighted according to the luminosity function, a model of human visual brightness perception, standardized by the CIE and ISO. In English, \"lux\" is used as both the singular and plural form.
The word is derived from the Latin word for \"light\", lux.

Surfaces illuminated by

Moonless, overcast night sky (starlight)

Moonless clear night sky with airglow

Full moon on a clear night

Dark limit of civil twilight under a clear sky

Public areas with dark surroundings

Family living room lights (Australia, 1998)

Office building hallway/toilet lighting

Very dark overcast day

Train station platforms

Office lighting

Sunrise or sunset on a clear day.

Overcast day; typical TV studio lighting

Full daylight (not direct sun)

Direct sunlight

The illuminance provided by a light source on a surface perpendicular to the direction to the source is a measure of the strength of that source as perceived from that location. For instance, a star of apparent magnitude 0 provides 2.08 microlux (μlx) at the Earth\'s surface. A barely perceptible magnitude 6 star provides 8 nanolux (nlx). The unobscured Sun provides an illumination of up to 100 kilolux (klx) on the Earth\'s surface, the exact value depending on time of year and atmospheric conditions. This direct normal illuminance is related to the solar illuminance constant Esc, equal to 128000 lux (see Sunlight and Solar constant).

The illuminance on a surface depends on how the surface is tilted with respect to the source. For example, a pocket flashlight aimed at a wall will produce a given level of illumination if aimed perpendicular to the wall, but if the flashlight is aimed at increasing angles to the perpendicular (maintaining the same distance), the illuminated spot becomes larger and so is less highly illuminated. When a surface is tilted at an angle to a source, the illumination provided on the surface is reduced because the tilted surface subtends a smaller solid angle from the source, and therefore it receives less light. For a point source, the illumination on the tilted surface is reduced by a factor equal to the cosine of the angle between a ray coming from the source and the normal to the surface. In practical lighting problems, given information on the way light is emitted from each source and the distance and geometry of the lighted area, a numerical calculation can be made of the illumination on a surface by adding the contributions of every point on every light source.

Relationship between illuminance and irradiance

Like all photometric units, the lux has a corresponding \"radiometric\" unit. The difference between any photometric unit and its corresponding radiometric unit is that radiometric units are based on physical power, with all wavelengths being weighted equally, while photometric units take into account the fact that the human eye\'s image-forming visual system is more sensitive to some wavelengths than others, and accordingly every wavelength is given a different weight. The weighting factor is known as the luminosity function.

The lux is one lumen per square metre (lm/m2), and the corresponding radiometric unit, which measures irradiance, is the watt per square metre (W/m2). There is no single conversion factor between lux and W/m2; there is a different conversion factor for every wavelength, and it is not possible to make a conversion unless one knows the spectral composition of the light.

The peak of the luminosity function is at 555 nm (green); the eye\'s image-forming visual system is more sensitive to light of this wavelength than any other. For monochromatic light of this wavelength, the amount of illuminance for a given amount of irradiance is maximum: 683.002 lx per 1 W/m2; the irradiance needed to make 1 lx at this wavelength is about 1.464 mW/m2. Other wavelengths of visible light produce fewer lux per watt-per-meter-squared. The luminosity function falls to zero for wavelengths outside the visible spectrum.

For a light source with mixed wavelengths, the number of lumens per watt can be calculated by means of the luminosity function. In order to appear reasonably \"white\", a light source cannot consist solely of the green light to which the eye\'s image-forming visual photoreceptors are most sensitive, but must include a generous mixture of red and blue wavelengths, to which they are much less sensitive.

This means that white (or whitish) light sources produce far fewer lumens per watt than the theoretical maximum of 683.002 lm/W. The ratio between the actual number of lumens per watt and the theoretical maximum is expressed as a percentage known as the luminous efficiency. For example, a typical incandescent light bulb has a luminous efficiency of only about 2%.

In reality, individual eyes vary slightly in their luminosity functions. However, photometric units are precisely defined and precisely measurable. They are based on an agreed-upon standard luminosity function based on measurements of the spectral characteristics of image-forming visual photoreception in many individual human eyes.

Use in video-camera specifications

Specifications for video cameras such as camcorders and surveillance cameras often include a minimal illuminance level in lux at which the camera will record a satisfactory image. A camera with good low-light capability will have a lower lux rating. Still cameras do not use such a specification, since longer exposure times can generally be used to make pictures at very low illuminance levels, as opposed to the case in video cameras, where a maximal exposure time is generally set by the frame rate.

Non-SI units of illuminance

The corresponding unit in English and American traditional units is the foot-candle. One foot candle is about 10.764 lx. Since one foot-candle is the illuminance cast on a surface by a one-candela source one foot away, a lux could be thought of as a \"metre-candle\", although this term is discouraged because it does not conform to SI standards for unit names.

One phot (ph) equals 10 kilolux (10 klx).

One nox (nx) equals 1 millilux (1 mlx) at light color 2042 K or 2046 K (formerly 2360 K).

In astronomy, apparent magnitude is a measure of the illuminance of a star on the Earth\'s atmosphere. A star with apparent magnitude 0 is 2.54 microlux outside the earth\'s atmosphere, and 82% of that (2.08 microlux) under clear skies. A magnitude 6 star (just barely visible under good conditions) would be 8.3 nanolux. A standard candle (one candela) a kilometre away would provide an illuminance of 1 microlux—about the same as a magnitude 1 star.

Legacy Unicode symbol

Unicode includes a symbol for \"lx\": U+33D3 ㏓ SQUARE LX. It is a legacy code to accommodate old code pages in some Asian languages. Use of this code is not recommended in new documents.

SI photometry units

SI photometry quantitiesvte
Quantity Unit Dimensions Notes Name Symbol Name Symbol Luminous energy


lumen second



The lumen second is sometimes called the talbot.

Luminous flux, luminous power


lumen (= candela steradian)

lm (= cd⋅sr)


Luminous energy per unit time

Luminous intensity


candela (= lumen per steradian)

cd (= lm/sr)


Luminous flux per unit solid angle



candela per square metre

cd/m2 (= lm/(sr⋅m2))


Luminous flux per unit solid angle per unit projected source area. The candela per square metre is sometimes called the nit.



lux (= lumen per square metre)

lx (= lm/m2)


Luminous flux incident on a surface

Luminous exitance, luminous emittance


lumen per square metre



Luminous flux emitted from a surface

Luminous exposure


lux second


L−2T J

Time-integrated illuminance

Luminous energy density


lumen second per cubic metre


L−3T J

Luminous efficacy (of radiation)


lumen per watt



Ratio of luminous flux to radiant flux

Luminous efficacy (of a source)


lumen per watt



Ratio of luminous flux to power consumption

Luminous efficiency, luminous coefficient



Luminous efficacy normalized by the maximum possible efficacy

See also: SI · Photometry · Radiometry

^ The symbols in this column denote dimensions; \"L\", \"T\" and \"J\" are for length, time and luminous intensity respectively, not the symbols for the units litre, tesla and joule.

^ Standards organizations recommend that photometric quantities be denoted with a subscript \"v\" (for \"visual\") to avoid confusion with radiometric or photon quantities. For example: USA Standard Letter Symbols for Illuminating Engineering USAS Z7.1-1967, Y10.18-1967

^ a b c Alternative symbols sometimes seen: W for luminous energy, P or F for luminous flux, and ρ for luminous efficacy of a source.


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