When it comes to shopping for outdoor security lighting, it can be highly confusing as to what the best option is for your specific need. This is often confusing because there’s many distinguishing factors such as wattage, lumens, mounting options, etc. As a result, we’ve prepared a buyers guide for LED flood lights which is one of the most common and versatile forms of outdoor lighting.
This article will break down each important aspect and distinguishing factor involved with these lighting fixtures and provide examples of where each type can be used. This includes small applications such as lighting a small yard all the way up to flood lights for larger commercial needs such as parking lots.
Lumens – Lumens measures the total amount of light emitted per unit of time. This unit essentially measures the brightness of the light.
Wattage – Wattage refers to the amount of power a light projects. Generally speaking, higher wattage lights will project more lumens (brightness). LED flood lights come in a wide range of wattages. This ranges from 15 watts all the way up to 400 watts.
Color Temperature (Kelvin) – Kevin or color temperature basically corresponds to the color of the light projected which also correlates to heat. LED flood lights generally come in two different measurements: 4000K, and 5000K.
DLC Listed – DLC stands for Design Light Consortium and certifies that the product can perform under high levels of energy efficiency.
Photocell – A photocell uses a sensor to detect the level of lighting available outside and turn on if necessary. In other words, once it becomes dark, the light will turn on. Certain LED flood lights are photocell compatible and can serve as “dusk to dawn lights.”
Base – The base for a flood light involves the type of mount to attach the fixture. For example, some mounting options such as a Trunnion Mount allows the flood light to cast illumination from side-to-side. Other mounting options such as a Slip Fitter Mount involve mounting the light up on a pole.
Lens – The type of lens a lighting fixture uses will influence how light is dissipated. Two common types are a clear lens or frosted lens.
Voltage – Voltage involves the amount of work required per unit of charge to move a test charge between two points. For LED lighting, this is the amount of power a lighting fixture provides a bulb.
Shorting Caps – The Shorting Cap contains a shorting connection between the line and load of the receptacle keeping the lights on at all times when power is being supplied.
Motion Sensors – Motion sensors inside outdoor lighting fixtures detect when there’s movement close to the light and will automatically turn on. This is an ideal for security lighting purposes.
Dusk to Dawn Lights – Dusk to dawn lights are any light which automatically turns on once the sun begins to set. Certain LED flood lights can be installed with a photocell and serve as dusk to dawn lights. It’s important to check product descriptions and spec sheets to ensure your flood light is photocell compatible if you wish to use this functionality.
Selecting Wattage for LED Flood Lights
Wattage refers to the amount of power a light projects; thus, the amount of watts light bulb has pretty much dictates its brightness. In other words, the higher the wattage, the brighter the light will be. There are a wide range of wattages available for LED flood lights. This ranges from low wattage lights (15-40 watts) all the way up to industrial grade 350+ watt flood lights for major applications such as airports and sports stadium lighting. We’ll break this down further below.
Low Wattage (15-40 Watts) – Flood lights that are considered “low wattage” operate with bulbs in the range of around 15 to 40 watts. These are ideal to illuminate small areas such as a footpath or door way. These bulbs generally provide ample illumination for residential purposes or very small areas around commercial buildings.
Mid Wattage (40-80 Watts) – Mid wattage lights operate with bulbs in the range of around 40 to 80 watts. These are ideal to illuminate areas such as a small yard, garden, or driveway with a moderate level of brightness.
High Wattages (100 Watts or more) – Once you get into triple digit wattage numbers, the bulbs are considered “high wattage.” These bulbs are necessary for applications such as parking lot lighting, roadways, and other municipal or commercial lighting needs. According to the International DarkSky Association, roadway lighting may have wattages up to 400 watts. These high wattage bulbs are mounted on poles high above the ground.
Ultra High Wattage (400+ Watts) – 400+ watt flood lights are the highest number of approved wattages. These are typically only appropriate for major municipal or industrial lighting verticals such as airport lighting, highways, large parking lots, or outdoor sports arenas.
What Lumens To Use
Lumens measures the total amount of light projected per unit of time. In other words, the higher the lumens the brighter the light. It’s important to note, this number also correlates with wattage; thus, as the amount of watts go up, so does lumens.
Low Lumens (1,600-4,000) – LED Flood Lights operating between 1,600 and 4,000 lumens are ideal for small outdoor area lighting such as a staircase, walk way, etc. These are very common for residential or small commercial needs.
Medium Lumens (4,000-10,000) – 4,000 to 10,000 lumens is a mid range of brightness. This level is ideal for yards, fields, and slightly larger exterior areas around buildings.
High Lumens (10,000 and up) – High lumens outdoor lights are generally used for municipal areas or larger commercial applications such as parking lots, cities, etc.
Ultra High Lumens (50,000 and up) – 50,000 or more lumens is typically only ideal for large industrial needs like highways, airports, and large parking lots.
Color Temperature (Kelvin)
5,000K – 5000K LED flood lights are by far the most common. This color temperature projects a cool white illumination that emulates day time environments. This is very ideal for the illumination and security of outdoor spaces.
4,000K – 4,000 Kelvin LED bulbs project a natural colored light you commonly find within workspaces.
3,000K – 3,000 Kelvin is a warm color of LED light used primarily inside restaurants or houses. It’s rare to find outdoor flood lights in 3000K as it’s not recommended.
Applications And Types
Apart from lumens, wattage, and color temperature, there are a variety of other distinguishing factors for LED flood lights. One other factor is the type of application it’s used for which is largely determined by the mounting option.
Spotlights – These lights can be attached to a flexible mount such as a Knuckle Mount and used to aim illumination at specific points; thus, serving as a spotlight.
Dusk To Dawn Lights – When equipped with a photocell, flood lights can automatically turn on once the sun sets which makes them an effective security lighting option.
Parking Lot Lights – LED Flood Lights are an effective way to provide illumination around parking lots as these lights can be attached to poles through mounts such as a Slip Fitter or Extruded Arm.
Building Perimeter Lights – Flood lights are a great way to provide security around building perimeters. They can be attached to walls with Yoke Mounts and illuminate the area.
Field or Yard Lights – These lights can also be used to illuminate areas around a landscape, field, or yard. It’s ideal to use an adjustable flood light on a base such as a Trunnion Mount for this purpose.
Flood Light Bulbs
Light bulbs for floodlights are sorted by letter and number codes. Common types of LED flood R, BR, PAR, and MR.
BR Bulbs – These bulbs are best for indoor locations that require broad lighting without excessive brightness such as a kitchen countertop.
PAR Bulbs – PAR bulbs are designed to project an intense beam of light in one direction like a spot light. This makes PAR bulbs ideal for outdoor lighting applications.
R Bulbs – These have very niche applications and are typically only used if you’re replacing an old R bulb.
MR Bulbs – MR bulbs essentially have the same applications as R bulbs and are rarely used other than as replacements for MR or R bulbs.
Accessories and Mounting Options
There are a variety of flood light mounting options as well as accessories for various purposes. We’ll list a few of the most useful types below.
Extruded Arm – The extruded arm mount is a L-shaped base which allows you to mount the light up on a fixture and provide illumination to a fixed area. This is the standard form of mounting for flood lights.
Slip Fitter Mount – The Slip Fitter provides a pole mounting option. In this case, the light is attached to a pole and provides lighting around a broad area. This type of mounting is common for parking lot lighting.
Knuckle Mount – The knuckle mount is adjustable and allows you to point illumination up or down. This works similarly to a spotlight and is commonly used for billboard lighting.
Yoke Mount – The Yoke Mount allows you to attach the light to a wall and serve as a wall lighting fixture.
Trunnion Mount – A Trunnion Mount uses a pivoting point to allow the flood light to cast illumination from side-to-side.
Shorting Cap – The Shorting Cap contains a shorting connection between the line and load of the receptacle keeping the lights on at all times when power is being supplied.
Photocell – A photocell uses a sensor to detect the level of lighting available outside and turn on if necessary. In other words, once it becomes dark.
LED Flood Light Brands
In this section we’re going to break down a variety of manufacturers and distributors based on our research and knowledge of the market, each of these companies offer good quality products.
Hyperikon – Hyperikon is a U.S. based distributor of several lighting products including outdoor lighting solutions. The company has their own research and development team to produce cutting-edge products for their customers.
Straits Lighting – The Straits Lighting Company is a U.S based lighting manufacturer that specializes in producing top quality LED lighting solutions for commercial and industrial applications. Straits manufacturers a brand of LED flood lights called the Broadcast Series. This brand has three variations (FLK, FLL, FLF) each of these variations have different wattage ranges and applications.
LEDsMASTER – LEDsMaster has a selection of high powered outdoor LED products. The company has their own in-house R&D team and produces lights that have exceptionally long life-spans.
LightPolePLUS – As the name of the company may suggest, LightPolePLUS produces LED pole lighting fixtures for applications such as parking lots and sports stadiums.
Musco – Musco produces lights for sports stadiums that are used by several professional leagues as well as little league stadiums. They offer a full line of temporary high mast lights.
ANGAR LIGHTS – HANGAR LIGHTS is a supplier who specializes in airport lighting solutions. The company has dedicated their brand to this specific niche and even supplies lighting for the U.S military.
1000Bulbs – 1000Bulbs is known for producing light bulbs for residential and commercial use. They have an extremely large selection of LED tubes, bulbs, and lights for outdoor fixtures.
SuperBrightLEDs – SuperBrightLEDs has a huge inventory of products and offers high quality flood lights for trucks and boats.
Larson Electronics – Larson Electronics is a distributor and manufacturer of lighting products who produces industrial lighting applications. They sell top notch specialized products such as explosion proof flood lighting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Are flood lights dimmable?
Yes, certain flood lights are dimmable; however, this often depends on the brand and wattage. It’s important to check product specifications for this feature.
Q. What are the advantages to using LEDs?
One of the main advantages to using LEDs as your source of outdoor illumination is the fact they can save significant costs when compared to traditional lights. A 2012 study by Consumer Reports estimated that LEDs can save you on average, at least $100 and as much as $400 per bulb. These savings continue to increase as technology improves. LEDs also aren’t susceptible to wear out overtime due to harsh outdoor conditions or continued use and thus require little to no maintenance costs. There are many other advantages as well such as eco-friendliness, reliability, etc..
Q. Where are flood lights used?
Flood lights are a highly flexible type of lighting fixture that can be used for virtually any outdoor lighting application. Common uses for flood lights include: exterior building security, parking lots and lighting for outdoor sports fields such as football or soccer.