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Choosing A Floodlight

Author: Glenn Harper
Published: January 12, 2015

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Floodlights are useful for many purposes, whether lighting a building, car park, driveway, garden, fountain, patio, tennis court, tree, or yard. They can be used in accent, task, or security lighting. You’ll want to choose the best floodlight for the purpose you have in mind; this article will look at various floodlight specifications and steer you towards the correct choice.

Equivalent wattages

With filament lighting (i.e. incandescent), bulb wattage and the amount of light produced are directly related. LED technology is not like that. Two LED products of equal wattage can emit different amounts of light, depending on energy efficiency. Comparing LED products by actual wattage is therefore meaningless.

Equivalent wattage addresses this problem by translating the amount of light produced by an LED (or fluorescent) product into the wattage of an equivalent filament lamp (in this case halogen). You can use the table below to choose floodlights by their equivalent wattage for various applications.

Application Equivalent (standard halogen) wattage
Small patio (9m²) 70W
Back yard of house 70W
Small garden (50m²) 120W
Driveway (10m) 120W
Medium patio (25m²) 120W
Building façade 120W
Medium garden (200m²) 250W
Large patio (100m²) 250W
Car park 400 to 500W
Industrial loading bay 400 to 500W

These are estimations only and may not be applicable on every occasion.

Floodlighting technologies

The light source used by a floodlight is likely to affect your buying choice. Each technology has a particular set of attributes.

    • LED floodlights are 80 to 90% more energy efficient than halogen equivalents. Significantly, they also operate reliably in cold temperatures (normally down to -20°C) and are resistant to shock or vibration. Long lifespan makes LED lighting an excellent choice for hard-to-reach places and reduces maintenance costs.
    • Halogen floodlights consume a lot of energy, but they emit an excellent quality of light with vivid, accurate colour rendering. Their poor energy efficiency can be mitigated by using a PIR motion sensor to limit the amount of time the light is switched on.
    • Low energy fluorescent floodlights offer a combination of energy efficiency and modest upfront cost. Modern high frequency CFL lamps are liked for their flicker-free, noiseless performance. Disadvantages include warm-up time and a cold temperature performance that is not quite as resilient as LED.
    • Metal Halide floodlights use a lot of energy, but are energy-efficient light sources that emit a phenomenal amount of light. They are ideal for lighting car parks, industrial areas, or sporting facilities. Energy efficiency is roughly on a par with LED in terms of lumens produced per watt (i.e. luminous efficacy).
    • SON floodlights are the most energy efficient of all lamps, with a typical luminous efficacy of over 120 lm/W. They are ideal for lighting large areas, though colour rendering is poor compared to competing technologies. This makes a SON floodlight useful as a practical light source (i.e. for open car parks) rather than an aesthetic one.

Floodlights image 1

Controlling light

One aspect of floodlighting that needs attention is containment of light. If you have neighbours a short distance away, chances are they won’t appreciate their property being blasted by escaped floodlighting.

Most floodlights, as their name suggests, produce a wide beam of light. The beam angles do vary, but you can also control light by ensuring it’s only as powerful as necessary and with careful positioning. The naturally directional output of an LED floodlight helps to cut out stray light.

Choosing a colour temperature

One important specification in floodlighting is its colour temperature. If you’re looking to highlight architecture, warm white floodlights help create a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. They’re ideal for many home or hospitality applications.

A cool white or daylight floodlight is arguably a better choice for security purposes. This is because cool white light appears brighter to our eyes and hence starker and more of a deterrent. This is even more the case when it is suddenly activated by a PIR sensor (see below).

A cooler colour temperature is wise if you’re looking to buy a floodlight for working under. Not only does it look more natural, but it also stimulates alertness and concentration.

You might choose a colour temperature to emphasise garden hues. Cool white is good for water features or silvery metallic surfaces while warm white does well with brick or wooden structures, plants and shrubs. Colourful autumn and winter growth benefits from warm white light.

PIR and dusk to dawn sensors

A PIR sensor triggers light automatically when it senses movement within a given range, making it especially useful in security lighting. The duration of light can often be set by the user.

A dusk to dawn sensor is slightly less economical than a PIR sensor, because it automatically keeps light switched on for the duration of the night. This is useful if you want to create the illusion of a property being occupied and/or to enhance surveillance.

Floodlights image 2

Solar floodlights

A solar floodlight is costlier than a standard luminaire to buy, but is subsequently free to run. The award-winning Premium City Solar LED Twin Floodlight with PIR Sensor combines a solar panel with a PIR sensor. It charges by day (even in overcast conditions) and delivers up to a hundred 60-second bursts of powerful security lighting per night.

Floodlighting versatility

Floodlights brighten up an exterior for aesthetic or security purposes, and they’re available these days with sleeker, more attractive, less conspicuous designs. Check out Lyco’s extensive floodlight range and discover how you and your property or business can benefit.

For more useful information and guidance see our Lighting Advice section.