What are the Different Types of Outdoor Flood Lights?

Ron Marr

Outdoor flood lights can be purchased in a huge array of sizes, styles, and intensity. One may see an outdoor flood light at a movie premier or grand opening, blasting a high intensity beam into the night sky. At a large sporting event, arrays of these lights, with power usage measured in the hundreds of thousands of watts, will light the seating areas and playing fields. On the other hand, a small flood light might be used to highlight a garden fountain or bed of flowers.

Sensors can detect motion beneath or around the light fixtures, bathing a property with light in the late night and early morning hours.
Sensors can detect motion beneath or around the light fixtures, bathing a property with light in the late night and early morning hours.

As most people would have little use for illuminating a 90,000 seat stadium, the vast majority of outdoor flood lights are geared towards home or business use. Far and way the most prevalent purpose of these lights is for security. Sometimes one needs a flood light that will completely eliminate dark shadows. At other times, only a moderate glow is needed.

Several varieties of energy-efficient outdoor flood lights are currently on the market. Solar powered flood lights do not throw out a huge beam, however they will provide enough light to detect intruders on a property. After the initial purchase of unit and bulb, solar flood lights entail zero energy cost. They are totally powered by the rays of the sun, with energy stored in batteries.

Light Emitting Diode (LED) flood lights are also an efficient choice. Though their power level is generally only between 40 and 70 watts, some LED models of over 100 watts are available. One of the primary advantages of LED flood lights is that they use approximately 60 percent less energy than their electric counterparts.

Compact fluorescent flood lights (CFL) are not extremely popular, but they can be a good choice when a low intensity light source is required. They often range from approximately 10 to 40 watts. One will often install a CFL over a garage door or home entryway. In addition, outdoor flood lights that are seen most every evening, and rarely noticed because of their prevalence, are mercury vapor lamps (MVL). Most people would know these by their more common name of “street lights.”

By far the most popular models of outdoor flood lights are high power, electrically powered, quartz halogen lights. These lights often throw out a brilliant beam in the hundreds, or even thousands, of watts. Often, they are equipped with motion sensors, turning on automatically if an unwanted visitor enters a restricted perimeter, Quartz halogen bulbs are the ultimate in security flood lights, useful for homes, business property, and even for illuminating park playgrounds and tennis courts.

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Discussion Comments


My local garden center has flood lights outside that showcase the plants at night. I'm sure they also serve security purposes, but it works as good advertisement, too.

They are not open at night, but they do want people who drive by to be able to see the business. Since the most attractive, bushiest plants are placed in front of the flood lights, these are what draw people in and make them want to come back when the place is open.

I drive by all the time, but it still catches my eye. The huge pink roses and the tropical hibiscus are very alluring when they are in bloom, and I can't help but look at them.


The flood lights that illuminate fountains are so pretty. There is a house near where I live that has a huge pond out front with a fountain in the middle, and it has several colored flood lights that fall upon it at night.

Around the Fourth of July, the man changes the lights to red, white, and blue. Around Halloween, he uses orange, and near Christmas, he puts in red and green.

I think it is neat that he switches out the color of the flood lights by the season. It gives everyone driving by something pretty and interesting to glance at, and I especially look forward to going by his house when I'm a passenger and can really get a good look at it.


@shell4life – If I had a really nice home, I would probably use the same lights as your neighbor. This is a great way to stave off crime.

The parking lot outside my workplace has strong flood lights spaced throughout it. This makes me feel a lot better about walking to my car after work, because I often have to stay until it's dark outside.

A couple of years ago, one of my coworkers got hit in the head and robbed in the parking lot. Not long after that, they installed flood lights, and now, criminals aren't quite bold enough to enter the area. Cops randomly drive by, and they can see everything in the parking lot, so I feel pretty safe there.


A man who lives down my street has outdoor flood lights illuminating his gorgeous house. It is a big two-story mansion, and I believe that the lights are probably for security.

Some neighbors have said that they think he is just trying to show off his fancy home with the lights at night, but I think he is trying to discourage burglars from getting near his home. The lights are seriously bright, and I can see the house just as well when they are on as I can in sunlight.

In all the years I have lived here, I have never heard of anyone trying to burglarize his home. Putting oneself in the glow of such strong lights would be too risky.

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