How Many Lumens Do I Need for Outdoor Lighting?

In this article, we’ll help you choose the best lumens/brightness for your outdoor lighting application in mind. Keep reading!

gazebo night glowing lights

If you want to know how many lumens you need, you’re probably eyeing for LED bulbs to retrofit lighting fixtures. Whether it’s for your home pathway, pond, landscape or garden, or even for more industrialized purposes, such as around your building property, playgrounds or for streets, we’ve got you covered.

What is a Lumen and Why It Matters?

Lumen measures how bright a light bulb is, or the intensity of brightness it emits. Nowadays, we use this unit of measurement to specify the light output of LED bulbs. For example, defining the brightest LED bulb for garden lights can mean finding a bulb with the highest lumens.

What is Watt and Are Higher Wattage Lights Brighter?

Our once convenient way of buying an over-the-counter light bulb is by choosing from different watts printed on its packaging. We judge a light’s intensity by its watt rating. The higher the watts, the brighter it is.

Watt is a unit of measurement for power draw or the amount of electricity the light bulb consumes. It means that a 100-watt incandescent bulb takes up 100 joules of energy to produce light in 1 second.

So from here, we loosely predict that a 100-watt bulb can be brighter than a 60-watt bulb because it takes up more energy per second.

We used this proportionality way of saying how bright a lamp would be based on how much power it consumes. But eventually, watts can only accurately determine how much we have to pay for electricity bills.

On the other hand, lumens measure the light intensity of a lamp – not counting how much electricity it draws.

Why Lumens Make More Sense Than Watts?

Now, with the emergence of LEDs, measuring light intensity through watts is a poor gauge and doesn’t make much sense anymore.

This is because LED is more energy efficient – meaning it uses less power (in watts) to produce the same amount of brightness as an incandescent bulb.

Take for example, a 250-watt incandescent bulb can be replaced with a 30-watt LED bulb with the same luminous brightness.

As the world is shifting towards energy efficient lighting, watt as scale basis for brightness would eventually be extinct in the near future. So, it is safer to specify the lumen you need for your outdoor lighting, rather than having to estimate its wattage.

How Would You Know You’re Being Energy Efficient with the Right LED Lumens and Watts?

Now that you know that it makes more sense to specify brightness in lumens, how would you know if you got the right light brightness you need?

Don’t worry if you’re still accustomed to measuring light output in watts, as there are still many people who do it this way. So to help you adapt with specifying the amount of lumens you need for your LED outdoor lighting, here’s a cheat sheet for you.

Types of Lighting

Lumens Requirement

Outdoor Wall lights

50-185 lumens

Path lighting

100-200 lumens

Garden Lights


Motion sensor lights

300-700 lumens

Pond/pool lights

200-400 lumens

Flood lights

700-1300 lumens


50-300 lumens

Street Lights for residential areas

5000 lumens

Street Lights for roadways

6,400-18,000 lumens

High mast for highways

25,000-100,000 lumens

So the next time you shop for CFL, LED or any light bulb, look for its lumens through the word “brightness” printed on packaging. Then see if the amount of lumens indicated coincides your outdoor lighting application.

Other specification for lumens can be found on the manufacturer’s sheet. This is if you are buying solar LED street lights, solar garden lights, or any outdoor solar lighting. Most of the time, the lighting fixture can be an Integrated LED or an LED module.

How Many LED Lumens Do I Need to Retrofit/Replace My Existing Outdoor Lighting?

If you don’t want to buy a new lighting fixture and would simply want to replace existing light with an LED bulb, here is a conversion table you can refer to.

Watts to Lumens Conversion Chart (Updated for 2020)


incandescent bulb in white background

15-25 Lm/W


CFL light in white background


40-70 Lm/W

Metal Halide

metal halide light in white background

80-105 Lm/W

LED Replacement

LED bulb in white background


100-160 Lm/W

Lumens Needed



12-15 W 5-15 W 5-8 W


80 W

19 W 25 W 17 W 2,550

100 W

23 W 35 W 20 W


250 W

65 W 100 W 30-40 W


300 W

80 W 125 W 40 W


400 W

100 W 150 W 50-60 W


500 W

150 W 250 W 75-80 W


600 W

175 W 320 W 100 W


1000 W

300 W 400 W 120-150 W


2000 W 500 W 750 W 240-300 W


How Many Lumens are Needed for Outdoor Path Lights?

path lights line up on street

Path lights are used to make a decorative impression.

Its usefulness is determined by how efficient it can “lead” people along a walkway.

The usual number of lumens for path lights is 100 to 200 lumens, about 1-2 watts LED light.

How Many Lumens are Needed for Garden Lights?

Garden lights may vary in brightness depending on what you need.

Solar garden lights are becoming a mainstream for garden and landscape lights as they are aesthetically pleasing and can give a lot of savings, with less maintenance and easy installation.

Smaller lights for your garden can range from 100 to 300 lumens, while larger garden lights can range from 600 to 1,800 lumens.

As accent lighting for gardens or yards, it can be as low as 50 lumens.

How Many Lumens are Needed for Flood Lights?

Flood lights illuminate its immediate area such as facilities or around a factory. They can also be used for billboards, outdoor pathway lights or doorways.

As they require focused illumination, solar flood lights need higher lumens than garden lights.

This can be between 700-1300 lumens. Larger commercial solar LED flood lights can be as high as 14,000 lumens.

How Many Lumens are Needed for Solar Street Lights?

With the right solar street light manufacturer, you can easily replace existing street lights with solar powered street lights that can last for 30 years, with minimal maintenance and operation cost.

Solar street light lumens varies depending on street lighting application. For lighting residential areas, the average is 5000 lumens.

For roadways, highways, building perimeters, universities, it can range from 6,400 to 18,000 lumens.

How Would You Know You’re Being Energy Efficient with the Right LED Lumens and Watts?

Care to know how much energy and money you are saving once you picked the right LED lumens for your outdoor lighting?

The light bulb’s efficiency is measured in Lumens per Watt (lm/watt). You can see this info on its packaging. It basically tells you the amount of input power consumed by the bulb (in watts) to produce the amount of brightness (in lumens).

So in order to optimize a bulb’s energy draw, you would want a bulb that utilizes less energy with more light intensity, right? This translates to a higher efficiency. And this means that the with a high lighting efficiency, the more energy and money you save from electricity bills.

As of 2020, it is projected that the average lighting efficiency of LED from lighting manufacturers can reach up to 130 to 160 lumens/watt.

This has significantly improved over the years as the traditional LED lights can only have a lighting efficiency of 50 to 90 lumens per watt. This means that when you want to buy LED light bulbs, check to see if its lumens per watt is within this range.

How Much Money Can You Save With the Right LED Light Bulb?

Below is a cost rundown for you. Let’s say you are using a 250W incandescent bulb street light producing 4,500 lumens. Referring to the conversion chart above, you can retrofit this with a 30 W LED bulb with the same number of lumens.

Incandescent Bulb


Watts per bulb



Lumens per watt

18 Lumens/watt 150 Lumens/watt

Lifespan (hours)



Typical Upfront Cost



No. of Bulbs Needed for 50,000 Hours Of Use



Total purchase price over 11 years



Total cost of electricity used for 11 years (50,000 hours at $0.12 per kWh)



Total Operation Cost for 11 years



See the difference? You can potentially save thousands of dollars if you opt for LED lighting producing more lumens at a lower wattage.

Why Solar LED Lights are the Best Outdoor Lights

Solar powered lights are the best, environmentally-friendly and energy efficient outdoor lighting solutions. Solar lights are now incorporated with LED lights so you can save thousands from electricity bills.

If you want to save money, plus help the environment reduce carbon emissions, you can opt for this free-electricity lighting solution.


In this article, we’ve explained how you can use lumens to estimate the brightness you need for your outdoor lighting application.

We’ve also pointed out how much you can save if you opt for LED lights than traditional lighting. This is because LED bulbs use less power or less watts than incandescent, CFL, metal halide or other regular light bulbs, but they produce the same lumens. Hence, with less power draw, you can save thousands in your electricity bills each year.

What’s more, when you opt for solar LED lights, such as modern solar street lights, solar garden lights, and solar flood lights, you can save even more.

A lot of companies and individual homes in the world have switched to solar powered LED lights. If you want to know more about solar LED lighting, don’t hesitate to contact HeiSolar for more information.

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