When buying new work lights, the first thing people often look at is the light output of the lamp. Not surprisingly, the lamp must provide sufficient light.

But what does the number behind the light output actually say? And what use is that if you have to work in the dark?

Recently, the specifications of our LED work lights show the theoretical and operational light output. What does this mean and what are the differences between the two values?

Sum of each LED

The theoretical light output of a work lamp is a sum of the maximum number of lumens that each LED in the lamp can produce. This does not take into account external factors that affect the light output of the lamp. These include the lens and electronics of the work lamp and how effective the housing is at dissipating heat.

As is the case with so many theoretical values, the theoretical light output can never be achieved in practice. To find out how much light a work lamp produces under normal working conditions, look at its operational light output.

Stable light output after two hours

Operational light output is measured after a work lamp has been on for about two hours, because it is stable at that time. Immediately after being switched on, the light output is slightly higher because the lamp has not yet warmed up. So measuring the light output already at that moment gives an unrealistic value.

Comparable with autotest

The difference between theoretical and operational light output can be compared to a test of a new car model. That test shows, for example, that the car has a fuel consumption of 1 to 25. What is not mentioned is that the test was performed on a roller dynamometer, that the car was driven at a maximum speed of 50 km/h and that it had special tires.

This creates a value that is attainable in theory but totally unrealistic in practice. So it is much better to rely on the results of practical tests to assess the car's consumption.

The same goes for work lights: for a realistic picture of light output, always look at the operational (or practical) lumens in the specifications.

What if it says only one value?

But what if the lamp specifications don't distinguish between theoretical and operational light output? Then how do you know whether you are dealing with a theoretical or practical value?

Generally, if a manufacturer specifies only one value, this is the theoretical light output. Because this number is always higher than the operational (and therefore actual) light output, this makes it seem as if the lamp gives much more light than it actually does.

Light output in practice up to 50% lower

With Nordic Lights work lights, the value of the operational light output is on average about 35% lower than that of the theoretical light output. Keep in mind that Nordic Lights produces top quality work lights. In design and production, much attention is also paid to the electronics in the lamp and the dissipation of heat.

In cheap work lamps, much less attention is paid to this. Therefore, the difference between the theoretical and operational light output in such lamps is even greater. Therefore, feel free to divide the number of lumens listed in the specifications of cheap work lamps by two to get an idea of the practical light output.

Not only the light output is important

Besides light output, other things are important when buying new work lights. Consider, for example, the lamp's IP rating and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).

Depending on the vehicle to which the work light is to be mounted, energy consumption and voltage range can be critical. The environment in which that vehicle operates can also influence the final choice for a particular type of work light. Consider the light pattern of the lens and whether that lens prevents glare from bystanders around the vehicle.