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The meaning of «lux»

The lux (symbol: lx) is the SI derived unit of illuminance, measuring luminous flux per unit area.[1][2] 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 standardized model of human visual brightness perception. In English, "lux" is used as both the singular and plural form.[3]

The word is derived from the Latin word for "light", lux.

Illuminance is a measure of how much luminous flux is spread over a given area. One can think of luminous flux (measured in lumens) as a measure of the total "amount" of visible light present, and the illuminance as a measure of the intensity of illumination on a surface. A given amount of light will illuminate a surface more dimly if it is spread over a larger area, so illuminance is inversely proportional to area when the luminous flux is held constant.

One lux is equal to one lumen per square metre:

A flux of 1000 lumens, spread uniformly over an area of 1 square metre, lights up that square metre with an illuminance of 1000 lux. However, the same 1000 lumens spread out over 10 square metres produces a dimmer illuminance of only 100 lux.

Achieving an illuminance of 500 lux might be possible in a home kitchen with a single fluorescent light fixture with an output of 12000 lumens. To light a factory floor with dozens of times the area of the kitchen would require dozens of such fixtures. Thus, lighting a larger area to the same level of lux requires a greater number of lumens.

As with other SI units, SI prefixes can be used, for example a kilolux (klx) is 1000 lux.

Here are some examples of the illuminance provided under various conditions:

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.[15] A barely perceptible magnitude 6 star provides 8 nanolux (nlx).[16] 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.[17] 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.

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