Enter the final and initial energy states into the calculator to determine the change in energy; this calculator can also evaluate any of the variables given the others are known.

Delta E Formula

The following formula is used to calculate the change in energy (ΔE) in a system:

 ΔE = E_final - E_initial


  • ΔE is the change in energy
  • E_final is the final energy state
  • E_initial is the initial energy state

To calculate the change in energy, subtract the initial energy state from the final energy state.

What is a Delta E?

Delta E is a metric used in colorimetry to quantify the difference between two colors. It is a single number that represents the ‘distance’ between two colors in a multi-dimensional color space. The term ‘Delta’ is used to denote difference, and ‘E’ stands for Empfindung, a German word for sensation. The calculation of Delta E takes into account the differences in the three attributes that define a color: hue, saturation, and lightness. A Delta E value of 0 would mean the two colors are identical, while a higher value indicates a greater difference between the two colors. The exact interpretation of a specific Delta E value can depend on the application and the specific color space being used. For example, in some contexts, a Delta E of 1.0 is often considered the smallest color difference that can be perceived by the human eye.

How to Calculate Delta E?

The following steps outline how to calculate the Delta E:

  1. First, determine the initial color values (Lab or RGB) of the reference color.
  2. Next, determine the initial color values (Lab or RGB) of the sample color.
  3. Next, calculate the differences between the initial color values of the reference color and the sample color.
  4. Finally, use the differences to calculate the Delta E value using the appropriate formula.
  5. After inserting the values and calculating the result, check your answer with a Delta E calculator.

Example Problem:

Use the following variables as an example problem to test your knowledge.

Initial color values of the reference color: L = 50, a = 20, b = 10

Initial color values of the sample color: L = 45, a = 18, b = 12