Foot-Candles: Measuring for Optimal Light Levels

General Lighting Knowledge

Measuring light levels in a warehouse or manufacturing facility ensures a safe and productive environment. This resource describes what’s involved in this process, the role of a light meter, what industry standard light levels are by building area, and some essential units of measurement, such as foot candles and lux.

Why Light Levels Matter

Proper lighting in workspaces such as factories and warehouses is crucial for several reasons. It enhances visibility, making tasks easier and reducing errors. Good lighting is also essential for safety, preventing accidents and injuries. Furthermore, it contributes to a positive work atmosphere, potentially increasing employee satisfaction and productivity. 

Step-by-Step Light Evaluation Process

Step 1: Choosing the Right Light Meter

A light meter is the best tool for accurately measuring light levels. It’s essential to select a meter that can accurately measure light from various sources, including incandescent, fluorescent, HID, and LED lights, with a margin of error of +/- 3%. Using a tripod with the meter ensures consistent measurement height and accuracy.

Recommended Light Meters:

– Triplett LT80 LED Illuminance/Light Meter

– Extech LT40 LED Light Meter

Step 2: Planning and Measuring

You’ll need a site plan or sketch for your evaluation area to document your measurements. Setting up the light meter at a consistent height (3 feet off the ground) and position ensures accurate readings. Measure light levels in foot candles under and between light fixtures, recording the readings on your site plan to determine the range and average light levels across the space.

Step 3: Compare with Standards

Once you have your measurements, compare them against recommended light levels for different areas within the facility. These recommendations serve as a guideline to assess whether your current lighting meets the necessary standards for safety, productivity, and comfort.

Understanding Foot-Candles and Lux

Foot-Candle (FC): A foot-candle is a unit of illumination equal to one lumen per square foot. In the United States, lighting levels are typically measured in foot candles.

Lux: Lux is an illumination unit equivalent to one lumen per square meter. It is commonly used outside of the United States.

The conversion between foot-candles and lux is:

1 fc = 10.764 lux

Light Level Recommendations

For different areas within a warehouse or manufacturing facility, recommended light levels are as follows:

– Warehouse areas: 10-30 FC

– Factory areas (large assembly): 30-50 FC

– Factory (detailed assembly): 50-100 FC

– Offices (at desk level): 30-40 FC

– Outdoor parking areas and exterior of buildings: Light levels will vary based on specific safety and security needs. 1-5 FC Typically.


Proper lighting is foundational to creating a safe and efficient working environment. By accurately measuring light levels, comparing them against established standards, and adjusting as necessary, facilities can meet the needs of their operations and workforce.

If you find that the light levels in your facility are below industry standards, contact us for a free lighting design so you’ll know exactly what LED products to purchase to meet your light level target.

Are your light levels too low? 3 easy steps to measure your light levels.  

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