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How many lumens do you need? Illuminate rooms properly

How many lumens do you need in which room? How much light per square meter is optimal for the hallway, bathroom, kitchen or living room? These questions arise when it comes to the right lighting for your own premises. In this article you will find some recommendations for a sensible layout of your lighting in different areas of the apartment or house.

Table of Contents

How many lumens do you need?

Readers have asked me this question many times. Especially during renovation work, the room lighting should often be switched to LED. When building a house, too, the question arises of how much light should be installed in the individual rooms. Unlike in the commercial sector, there are no regulations for a minimum brightness in the individual rooms for your own four walls.

Lighting recommendations

This article gives you tips on how to set the brightness for the different rooms. These are based on our own experience and from the exchange with other LED enthusiastic people. However, the recommendations cannot replace professional lighting planning.

How many lumens per square meter?

Lumen is the unit for luminous flux and describes the brightness of an LED lamp. To determine the optimal brightness, it is not just the basic location and purpose that are decisive. The size of the room is also very important. Therefore, all of the following recommendations are in Lumens per square meter specified. So you can extrapolate the lumen values ​​based on the area of ​​your rooms.

How much light for which room?

How much light output optimal lighting should produce depends on many factors. In principle, a higher light output than in living rooms is recommended for work or activities with increased concentration. The colors of the furnishings also have a major influence on the perceived brightness. Dark hues of furniture, walls and floors absorb more light than a bright environment.

And of course it also depends on how brightly you want to illuminate your rooms. When switching from old incandescent or halogen lamps, one is used to their brightness in the respective room. You can use this as a starting point and convert the power of the lamps to their lumen value.

Many households have a wide variety of rooms:

Fortunately, not every room needs a different light output and a few gradations are sufficient. Below you will find some recommendations for the individual rooms.

A brightness of 100 to 150 lumens per square meter is recommended in hallways and on stairs. In the case of winding staircases, the light intensity should be a little higher so that there are no accidents.

My ceiling light in the hallway has almost exactly 100 lm / m², which ensures a pleasant level of brightness. I installed a 250 lm wall lamp on a U-shaped staircase. Seen per square meter, this is even below 100 lm / m², but the light intensity is still completely sufficient.

Effective wall lights for hallways and stairs

A brightness of around 100 lm / m² is recommended in the living room and all other living rooms. This is a commonly cited benchmark for that Basic lighting. My ceiling light in the living room only reaches around 75 lm / m². Due to the bright furnishings, the room is still perceived as very bright, so that the brightness on the LED dimmer is usually slightly reduced.

In addition to the basic lighting, there are often other light sources in living rooms such as ceiling washers, illuminated cupboards or other decorative lighting. Depending on your needs, you can decide whether all lamps should be switched on or whether a cozy atmosphere should be created with individual lamps.

Modern ceiling lights for the living room

A brightness of around 100 lm / m² is also recommended in the dining room or dining area. A lamp installed directly above the table ensures a well-lit dining table. My ceiling light in the dining area comes to around 120 lm / m². This usually appears too bright, which is why the lamp is often dimmed.

Beautiful pendant lights for the dining area

A light intensity of 250 - 300 lm / m² is recommended in the kitchen. That is significantly brighter than for normal living areas. This should ensure good “work lighting”. My ceiling light in the kitchen only achieves around 160 lm / m².

The light intensity is sufficient due to the bright interior, but it shouldn't be darker either. As support and for better light distribution, base cabinet lights can also be installed under the wall cabinets for direct lighting of the worktop.

Bright ceiling lights for the kitchen

A light intensity of 250 - 300 lm / m² is also recommended in the bathroom. My lighting here reaches around 220 lm / m². Favored by the bright furnishings, this appears ideal here. A combination of a ceiling light and an illuminated mirror (cabinet) that can be switched on allows the desired brightness to be selected as required.

Splash-proof ceiling lights for the bathroom

A light intensity of 250 - 300 lm / m² is often recommended for offices. A high light intensity in connection with a high color temperature promotes concentration. The ceiling light in my study only achieves a little over 100 lm / m², which ensures good basic lighting.

The combination with a desk lamp with adjustable brightness then ensures a reasonable light intensity, which can be adjusted depending on the situation.

Adjustable desk lamps for the study

Bedroom and children's room

The same recommendations apply to bedrooms and children's rooms as to the living room. A brightness of around 100 lm / m² is a good recommendation. Here, too, the ceiling lighting can be supplemented with a bedside lamp, for example.

Beautiful ceiling lights for the bedroom

It is difficult to give a general recommendation for basements and storage rooms. Whether you illuminate these more like living rooms with 100 lm / m² or more with 250 - 300 lm / m², should depend on what and how often these rooms are used.

If there is even a hobby workshop in the premises, this should in any case be illuminated with 250 - 300 lm / m² in order to be able to work concentrated there.

Lamps for basements and storage rooms

Comparison table: lumens per room

The following table summarizes the above recommendations in brief.

roomLumens per m²
Hallway and stairs100 – 150
Living room, dining area100 – 150
kitchen250 – 300
Children's room, bedroom100 – 150
bath250 – 300
Workspace250 – 300
Storage room, cellar100 – 300
Hobby workshop250 – 300

The decision for the correct lumen value is sometimes difficult, especially if there is still no LED lamp in the household. If luminaires with an E27 or E14 base are installed, it is advisable to simply buy 2-3 LED lamps with different brightness. You can then alternately insert these into an existing luminaire to get a feel for the brightness.

Lighting recommendations for other scenarios

In the above paragraphs you received recommendations for indoor lighting. The following question about the design of the lighting has also reached me quite often.

How many lumens do you need to read?

No general recommendation can be given here. When reading, the eyes have to strain. That is why good lighting is very important for reading. The normal room lighting is rather unsuitable for longer reading. This emits its light over a large area, which is why only a low light intensity reaches the small area of ​​a book page.

A directional light source is therefore always recommended for regular reading. This can be a separate reading lamp or a ceiling washer with a separate arm with an integrated reading lamp. A reading lamp should generate a luminous flux of around 350 - 400 lumens. This should be chosen in terms of its nature so that its light only shines on the book and does not dazzle.


With the recommendations mentioned, you can roughly estimate how many lumens are required for which room. Especially when switching to LED lighting for the first time, you can also proceed step-by-step. By initially only purchasing light sources or lights for a room, you can get a better feeling for the lumen values ​​of the new light sources.