The Best Wattage for Outdoor Lights

Wattage is one of the main factors that you need to consider when choosing outdoor light bulbs. Usually, the higher the wattage, the brighter the light is. But, what is the appropriate wattage for your outdoor space?

In this quick guide, our lighting expert, William O'Brien, will give some tips on how to select the best wattage for your outdoor lighting. So, let's get straight to it!

 lightbulb consuming energy in dark background

How to pick the right wattage for your outdoor lighting?

Whether you want to light up a porchdriveway or a full yard, there are a few things to consider when choosing the wattage for your outdoor lights:

  • The purpose of the light: Is it for security, safety, or accent lighting? The more specific the purpose, the easier it will be to determine the right wattage.
  • The area you’re illuminating: a larger area will require more light, and therefore, a higher wattage. Conversely, a smaller area can get by with a lower wattage.
  • Your personal preferences: Some people like their gardens to be very bright, while others prefer a softer light. Consider the level of brightness that you prefer before making your final decision.

energy consumed in wattage

The difference between watts and lumens

Generally, the higher the wattage, the brighter the light is when it comes to outdoor lighting. However, this is not always the case. The brightness of a light is actually measured in lumens, not watts.

So, what is the difference between watts and lumens?

Watts measure the amount of energy that a bulb uses, while lumens measure the amount of light that is emitted. A lumen is equal to the amount of light produced by one candle.

Our expert, William O'Brien, adds: “lumens are a measure of brightness and watts are a measure of how much energy is consumed. When choosing outdoor lights, it is imperative to consider both lumens and watts.”

If you want outdoor garden lights with high brightness, but that are also energy-efficient, you should look for bulbs with low wattage and high lumens. On the other hand, if you're looking for a softer light, you can go for a bulb that emits both low wattage and low lumens.

bright lightbulb in dark background

Why is too much wattage a bad thing?

Lightbulbs with higher wattage may produce brighter lighting, but they also consume more energy and last shorter. In addition, higher-wattage bulbs emit more heat, making them a fire hazard.

So, when choosing outdoor lights for your home, be sure to consider not only the brightness you require, but also the energy efficiency and safety of the light.

O'Brien reiterates this: “if you want to get a lot of brightness, you should opt for a high number of lumens and a moderate wattage; this way, you'll get a really bright light with a low energy consumption, which will help you save on fuel bills too.”

So, what is the best wattage for outdoor lights?

As a general rule of thumb, the best wattage for outdoor lights is 40 watts or lower. This will provide enough light to safely illuminate your outdoor space with low energy consumption.

If you have a larger outdoor space, you may need to increase the wattage of your outdoor lights, though you also need to consider the number of lumens. However, it is critical to not go too high, as this can create a safety hazard.

All in all, there isn't a specific wattage that is the most suitable for all lighting devices and spaces. Nevertheless, there are some general guidelines that can be followed in order to ensure that your garden lights have a wattage that is safe and effective for the area that you're trying to light up.

Ultimately, the best wattage for your outdoor lights will depend on the size of the room that you want to illuminate and the bulb type that you use. Your brightness requirements and the purpose of the light will also influence the optimal wattage for your lighting.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Bulb Type

Another factor to consider when choosing the wattage for your outdoor lights is the type of bulb you are using. Different lightbulb types consume distinct amounts of wattage and have contrasting lifespans.

So, before you determine the most appropriate wattage for your lighting, you need to consider what bulb type you want to use.

There are four types of outdoor lights commonly used: incandescent, halogen, CFL, and LED. The wattage of each light bulb indicates how much power the bulb consumes. A higher wattage means the bulb uses more power, and a lower wattage means the bulb utilizes less power.

Incandescent and halogen bulbs have the highest wattage of the four types of bulbs, and they are also the least energy-efficient. CFL bulbs consume fewer watts than incandescent bulbs, but they are more energy-efficient.

LED bulbs have the lowest wattage of all types of bulbs, which makes them the most energy-efficient lightbulb.

light bulb types

Chart of Recommended Wattage for each bulb type

Brightness in Lumens Incandescent lightbulb (standard) Halogen bulb CFL bulb LED lightbulb
450 lm 40 W 29 W 9 W 8 W
800 lm 60 W 43 W 14 W 13 W
1100 lm 75 W 53 W 19 W 17 W
1600 lm 100 W 72 W 23 W 20 W


The Best Wattage for Different Brightness Requirements

Low Wattage Bulbs

Low-wattage bulbs are commonly used in small areas, such as backyards, porches, sheds, and decks. Usually, 4-watt bulbs are ideal for small accent lights, while 15-watt bulbs can provide enough light for a set of stairs.

Low-wattage lightbulbs can range between 1 and 40 watts. These lightbulbs are extremely energy-efficient, hence they're becoming increasingly popular.  

Mid-Range Wattage Bulbs

Mid-range wattage lights are a popular choice because they provide high brightness without being too harsh. 

Mid-range wattage lights are between 40 and 80 watts, and they're often used in pathways, driveways, and garages. Standard light bulbs for home use are typically 60 watts.

These bulbs are bright enough to increase the safety of areas that will be used by you and your guests without emitting an overwhelming amount of brightness.

High Wattage Bulbs

High-wattage bulbs should only be used in rare situations. While it's true that these lights tend to be brighter than your average lightbulb, they consume a lot of energy, which is not only bad for the environment but also for your wallet.

High-wattage bulbs are typically 80 watts or more, and they typically consume over 100 watts. They produce a lot of light, making them perfect for street lighting and commercial areas lighting.

You'll frequently find these lightbulbs in streets, parking lots, shopping centers, and stadiums.

street lamp light with high wattage

Wrapping Up

Make sure you keep the purpose of the light and the desired look in mind when shopping for outdoor lights. For example, a powerful floodlight is ideal for lighting up a dark driveway, but may be too intense for a small garden.

When choosing the best lighting for your home, wattage shouldn't be the only factor you consider. Lumens are equally important because this unit actually measures the brightness of a light.

In general, LED bulbs use less wattage and last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, so they are a great choice for most applications.

Be sure to check the packaging and manufacturer's booklet to find the recommended wattage for each light.

If you would like to learn more about garden lighting, you can contact one of our lighting specialists here free of charge.

Related articles:

You have successfully subscribed!
This email has been registered