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How Many Lumens Do I Need for Outdoor Lighting? Our EASY Guide

When it comes to illuminating the space around your home, you want to make sure you select lighting that enhances the area instead of clashing with the layout. Depending on the type of lighting that you choose, the number of lumens you need will vary.

Here we’ve provided a detailed breakdown of our ideal ranges of lumens for all the most popular outdoor lighting options, and which types of lights will help to bring together a tasteful ambiance outside of your home. Now let’s bring some light to this topic.

50 Lumens Outdoor Lighting

How Many Lumens Do I Need to Light Up a Backyard?

Most times, homeowners will want to illuminate their garden, patios, and water fixtures in the backyard.

So when you ask yourself, “How many lumens do I need for outdoor lighting?”, consider functionality (1).

Will the lights serve security purposes like flood lights, or will they be more decorative like path lights? Security lights are typically brighter and utilize led lighting to maximize performance, whereas decorative lights are usually a mixture of both high and low light levels to create their desired effect.

Nicola Cameron, a landscape designer and director of the Pepo Botanic Design says,

We begin lighting projects by reviewing the overall space and thinking about what sort of atmosphere we want to evoke. The aim is to create a seamless flow between the planting, hard materials and the home.

When discussing how you want to design your backyard or any outdoor lighting, you have to consider your end goal to arrive at the amount of lumens you need.

Most Common Backyard Lights + Recommended Lumens

There are a variety of outdoor lights that you can use, but here are the most common types:

  • Hardscape Lights: These are the lights that are usually on walls, such as enclosed spaces (patio or deck).
    Lumens: 50-185
  • Step Lights: A beautiful feature to add to steps as a safety measure and a decorative aspect.
    Lumens: 12-100
  • Pool/Pond Lights: For that majestic glow shining from beneath the water or along the edge, pool and pond lights will look great in your backyard. 
    Lumens: 200-400
  • Pathway Lights: You can place pathway lights along the walkway leading from the front to the back of the house or maybe along a garden path to enhance the space.
    Lumens: 100-200 
  • String Lights: These lights look lovely along a deck or patio when entertaining friends and family on a warm summer evening.
    Lumens: 30-50 per bulb

How Many Lumens Do I Need to Light Up the Front of a House?

Often, the front of the house features security lights, which we’ll discuss below, and also lights that adorn the house and show off the landscape. 

  • Spotlights: These lights are typically located below the feature that you want to silhouette against the home walls. 
    Lumens: 100-180
  • Solar Lamp Posts: This is a stylish addition that can be in the front or back of the home. Solar lamp posts require solar energy to charge the battery, and they come on by themselves when it reaches a certain level of darkness outside. 
    Lumens: 120-180 

Learn more about how switching to renewable energy sources can save you money as a homeowner by visiting Your Energy Blog.

Lumens and Outdoor Lighting Effect

When you’re deciding on what kind of effect you want for your outdoor space, consider a mixture of light levels that work for both embellishing and security. It’s really important that your space must flow together instead of looking cluttered and disrupting the design.

Outdoor lighting specialist David Spark, who designs, installs, and does fittings for outdoor spaces in Australia, says,

You can make a single focal point, pick up the boundaries or focus on the entertaining areas.

For example, landscape lighting like a solar dusk to dawn light varies between 50 and 300 lumens, but note that scrubs and small bushes look great with 50 lumens and when lit from below.

Larger elements, such as sculptures in your garden, will go perfectly with dramatic lights that really bring them to life.

Ponds tend to look astonishing with lights that emanate from beneath the water, while lights along the edge accentuate pools. For more info on lumens, outdoor lighting effects, and answering “How many lumens do I need for outdoor lighting?” you can check out this great short video to help everything set in:

Ultimately, you have many different choices that you can mix and match to create the perfect ambiance for your outdoor space.

FAQs

When answering the question, “How many lumens do I need for outdoor security lighting?” it all depends on the type of security light you plan to use.

Security lights like solar flood lights and motion sensor lights help illuminate and identify people that come near your home. They also serve as a deterrent for criminal activity.

For these types of outdoor security lighting, we recommend these lumen ranges:

Motion-Sensor Lights: 300-700 lumens
Flood Lights: 700-1300 lumens

The ideal amount of lumens for a porch light ranges between 200-400 lumens in our experience.

If you choose to put a light directly on your porch, you’ll want to have about 400 lumens to help clearly see the door as you’re trying to enter. If you’re looking for something less bright looking, you can go for a light that’s closer to 200 lumens.

To get the best estimate for your porch, you can check out our guide on lux vs lumens to further understand the terminology behind light sciences.

The number of lumens you need per square foot will range from person to person. This all begins with how much light you prefer in your outdoor space.

For a ballpark number, the general recommendation is 75 lumens per square foot. If the area your lighting won’t be heavily occupied, you can opt to go a little lower, such as 45 or 60 lumens per square foot.

  1. Lumens and the Lighting Facts Label. Retrieved from: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/lighting-choices-save-you-money/lumens-and-lighting-facts
  2. 13 Outdoor Lighting Tips for a Safe and Inviting Landscape. Retrieved from: https://www.houzz.com/magazine/13-outdoor-lighting-tips-for-a-safe-and-inviting-landscape-stsetivw-vs~135507693
  3. Ask an Expert: Your Guide to Outdoor Lighting. Retrieved from: https://www.ecooutdoor.com.au/conversations/outdoor-lighting-guide/
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