Connecting to Collections Care Online Community

UV/Visible Light Meter


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    • #134440
      Janean Van Beckum

      I am looking to purchase a hand held meter that can measure both UV and Visible light. I do not want a data logger, just something to take quick spot readings. I am having trouble finding an all in one device for a reasonable price. Does anyone have any suggestions? I am also open to separate UV and visible meter suggestions in case the combo doesn’t pan out.

      Thank you!

    • #134441
      Marc Williams

      The problem for museums is not the meter, it is the units the meter reads. UV is proportional to the overall light level. If light is unfiltered daylight, it has very much UV content. But the risk of that content is proportional to the lux (lumens) of light falling on a surface. So more unfiltered light is more UV exposure. The museum world realized that high light (UV of course, but light overall) exposure was bad, so they adopted a specification of the amount of UV light per area which is micro-watts per lumen/lux. For collections preservation, a level of 75 micro-watts/lumen is accepted as the maximum, although 0 is obviously preferred. Most UV meters read the total UV, not the proportional amount. Thus, one can not differentiate between high light/high UV and high light/low UV. Again, 0 is desired.

      Hanwell makes a monitor that measures in micro-watts per lumen. It costs $1,700. In my humble opinion, that is unreasonable. I purchased one used but apparently near new on ebay for $170, which is 10% of the retail price. Maybe you can/can not find one at this price. Keep looking as the alternative is not acceptable. It will not give you what you want. I wish this was not true. Sorry.

    • #134443
      Heather Brown

      Hi Janean,

      I have experience using an Elsec, but it looks like that is still going to cost around $1,100.

      In doing some general searches, I found this one from Omega for $82. I haven’t used any Omega products myself, but it may be worth investigating. I would also want to ask about the lux range because I’m a little confused by how they have it listed.

      Hopefully some others will chime in and offer you more options to choose from. Good luck!


    • #134444
      Lindsay Schettler

      Hi Janean,

      I have yet to find any instrument that can do both UV and visible light at a low-cost. Choose an illuminance meter when measuring light intensity so that both foot-candle and Lux are available. After some research, here are some options I found that are used in the preservation/conservation community.

      All NIST-certified:
      -[UV light meter]: Sper Scientific 850009 UV Light Meter UVA/B ($160 range)
      -[Visible light meter]: Cooke cal-Light 400 Calibrated Precision Lightmeter 40,000 Fc / 40,000 Lux ($395)
      -[Visible light meter]: Sekonic i-346 Illuminometer ($257)
      -[Visible light with option for UV]: Elsec meter ($1,000+)

      Hope this helps! Good luck.


    • #134445
      Robert Krueger

      I use an Elsec 7540 UV & Light meter. I ordered it directly from the manufacturer about five years ago for around $800. This may not be inexpensive, but I don’t know that there are any reliable UV / light meters that are any less expensive.

    • #134446
      Janean Van Beckum

      Thanks everyone. I will check out the Elsec 7540, but will probably end up with two separate units. The reason for wanting an all-in-one was to reduce clutter in my overstuffed equipment cabinet and to make my life easier. We have several historic buildings I need to monitor regularly for light and to be sure our UV blocking measures are successful and dislike carrying extra stuff if I don’t have to!

      Thanks for all the input!

    • #134448

      I use the Elsec 765 for UV & Light plus temperature and humidity. It will cost more, but may be justifiable assuming you need to spot check temperature and humidity in your historic buildings. The Image Permanence Institute. When I worked at a historic house, I was able to purchase an Elsec with funding from a NEH Preservation Assistance Grant. You may want to check into this, the deadline is in May and this year’s grant guidelines should be posted soon.

    • #134465

      This newly revised publication from the Canadian Conservation Institute, Measurement of Ultraviolet Radiation – Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) Notes 2/2, may also help you.


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