The Hard Truth About Raw Lumens and Actual Lumens

The hard truth about raw and actual lumens

When upgrading your machine, there are a lot of choices and information out there on the type of LED you should buy. With all these lights, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by information. Lumens this, lumens that – I’m sure you have seen the word if you have been on ANY listing about LEDs. But… it has become somewhat of a buzzword. In fact, the measurement is a very broad umbrella term for the different types of lumens: Raw and Actual.

Why Should I Care?

Okay, so there are different types of lumens, but why should I care?

Well, understanding the different types of measurement is incredibly important in choosing the most powerful light. If you were to choose a light, solely off Raw or Actual Lumens, it could make or break the difference between having great LEDs on your machine and very poor visibilty.

So what is the difference?

Raw Lumens

This measurment refers to the theoretical amount of light produced by a light source. Raw Lumen output does not account for any losses due to factors like optical inefficiencies, beam patterns or light diffusion. As a result, raw lumens don’t accurately represent the actual performance of the light in real-world applications.

Actual Lumens

On the other hand, this measurement takes into consideration various factors that impact the actual brightness of the LED in real-world scenarios. This measurement accounts for losses due to factors such as optical design, light dispersion, lens quality and overall system efficiency. In essence, Actual Lumens provide an accurate representation of the light’s practical performance.

What You Need To Look For When Upgrading Your Lights

Understanding the difference between these two measurements, it would make more sense for manufacturers to state Actual Lumens when listing products because it is a realistic reflection of the performance of the light in real-life conditions. However, many LEDs on the market measure with Raw Lumens to make their lights seem brighter than they are in use.

Companies that are transparent about the performance of their lights will proactively state Actual Lumen values because it is impossible to achieve Raw Lumen values. For example, UTV Products’ brochure states:

“UTV Products state actual Lumen values whereas other manufacturers state raw Lumen values which can never be achieved.”

When looking at LED products, check whether Actual Lumen values are being stated and if not consider why. You can almost guarantee that whilst Raw Lumens are high, there would be a large drop in performance due to losses during use. That is why you should look for Actual Lumens – in this measurement, losses are already considered.


The distinction between Raw and Actual Lumen measurements is crucial when purchasing LEDs, as it determines the true performance of lights in real-world scenarios. Raw Lumen values represent the maximum, theoretical brightness without factoring in practical considerations. On the other hand, Actual Lumens account for these factors, offering a more accurate reflection of a light’s performance in use.

Understanding this disparity is paramount when making purchasing decisions, as relying solely on Raw Lumen values can lead to disappointment with the actual performance of the lights. Transparent companies, like UTV Products, prioritise stating Actual Lumen values, ensuring consumers have realistic expectations.

As consumers, it’s essential to scrutinise product listings and prioritise those that provide Actual Lumen values. While Raw Lumens may appear impressive on paper, it’s the Actual Lumens that truly matter in delivering optimal illumination for your needs.

Learn more about what to consider when buying LEDs? Click here.