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How Bright Should Outdoor Lights Be?

Updated: Apr 23

A lumen measures how bright a light bulb is. A 40-watt bulb gives off around 400 lumens. The more watts, the brighter the light.

If you're wondering how many lumens you need for outdoor lights, it depends on where you put them and how bright you want them.

This guide will help you figure it out.

Lumens Recommendation for Specific Outdoor Needs

The following is a list of LED lumens that are recommended for specific outdoor lighting applications:

  • Step lights: 12-100 lumens

  • Hardscape lights (on walls): 50-185 lumens

  • Landscape lights: 50-300 lumens

  • Landscape spotlights: 120 lumens

  • Path lights: 100-200 lumens

  • Lamp posts: 120-180 lumens

  • Pond/pool lights: 200-400 lumens

  • Motion sensor lights: 300-700 lumens

  • Flood lights: 700-1300 lumens

The number of lumens you need depends on where you put the lights and what you need them for.

If it's a dark spot, you'll need more lumens to brighten it up.

And if you want a softer light, get a bulb with fewer lumens.

Patio Outdoor Lights

Lighting up your patio can enhance its appearance and add a sense of security. Decorative lights like string lights, outdoor wall lights, post lights, and outdoor hanging lights are commonly used for patios.

Back patio with outdoor lighting
Creator: Alexander Paul & Susanne Porzelt Copyright: © 2017 by Alexander Paul & Susanne Porzelt

These lights are generally not as bright as security lights, so they require bulbs that emit fewer lumens.

String lights, for example, emit fewer lumens compared to wall lights, creating a cozy ambiance.

The number of lumens you need for your patio depends on how you want to decorate your outdoor space.

Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting includes outdoor lights like pathway lights and spotlights.

These lights can serve as security lights and decorative lighting, depending on their usage. That's why the number of lumens you need for your landscape lighting may vary.

Accent lighting on front of home
Accent lighting on the front of home

For example, spotlights usually require 120 lumens, while path lights along a walkway are recommended to have 100-200 lumens.

The usage of path lights, whether for lighting a path or for decorative purposes, will also dictate the lumens needed.

For more decorative pathway lights, use fewer lumens.

If you need them for security reasons, more lumens will probably be necessary.

Flood Lights

Flood lights are usually installed for security purposes outside your home.

There are different types of flood lights available, such as wall pack lights that illuminate pathways, and area lights that light up larger areas like parking lots and yards.

The number of lumens you need for flood lights will depend on the area you want to illuminate.

Accent lighting for craftsman style home
Creator: stevecoleimages | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto Copyright: stevecoleimages

For pathways, fewer lumens are required, while area lights need more lumens for brighter and wider illumination.

Flood lights typically require 700 to 1300 lumens to light up a space, with brighter lights emitting more lumens for greater security.

Motion sensor flood lights require 300 to 700 lumens, and their brightness may vary based on their range. These lights also detect movement and illuminate the area when an object crosses their path.

If you want a brighter beam of light, opt for a bulb with higher lumens.

Getting Started

Lighting plays a crucial role in enhancing the beauty and security of outdoor spaces.

Choosing the right lumens for different types of lighting, such as flood lights, pathway lights, spotlights, and patio lights, can create the desired ambiance and make your space safer.

LED lights are increasingly being used due to their energy efficiency, low maintenance, and eco-friendliness.

If you are looking to upgrade your outdoor lighting, reach out to us and let's get you started with the brightness your property needs.


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