How Many Lumens Are Appropriate for Outdoor Security Lights?

Photo of author


To answer the question, you should really first understand what lumens are and what significance they have for lighting, especially when it comes to outdoors. 

The correct amount of lumens used for safety and security can differ depending upon where you are placing those lights. According to most contractors, when it comes to private residence security lighting, anywhere from 700 – 1300 lumen is the acceptable brightness. 

Let’s dive into this and figure out what will best work for you and your security lighting. 

What Are Lumens?

Lumens are simply a unit of light measurement that can help a person judge how powerful their lights are. In other words, it’s an actual measurement. It isn’t the same as measuring power in watts, because watts measure the amount of energy a light uses, not how bright it is. 

A lumen includes things like intensity, brightness, and the amount of visible light. The higher the lumens the brighter the light. 

How Many Lumens Do You Need for Hanging String Lights?

This really all depends upon your comfort with lights and the comfort of your guests. Also, if you’re just using the area for a nice little gathering outside and want a warm ambiance you definitely don’t want too many lumens. If you’re handling some work in your outdoor space, you may want brighter lights.

In contrast to the soft light radiating from incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs are brighter and often they can have color-changing, vivid hues. Hanging overhead lights will usually range from a minimum of 50 to 120 lumens in total. You don’t want it to be so bright that your eyes are uncomfortable.

Another thing to think about is – if you plan to use the area for work or study, compare it to what is recommended for a kitchen island area and the hanging pendant lights. Rejuvenation recommends 35 – 50 lumens per square foot of the island. For example, a 15 square foot island would dictate 535-750 lumens depending on what you planned to use the space for.

How Many Lumens Should You Have on a Driveway?

Because your driveway is a safety issue as well as a security issue, the light on that driveway should be significant. You can decrease light pollution by having adjustable lighting. Have a lower lumen decorative light that is on during the night, say 300-700 lumens. 

Then, you can have motion sensors that either raise the lumens of those lights or turn on higher lumen lights for that area when a car pulls in or a person walks by.  The total lumens for when all lights are on can be up to 1600 lumens in this case. 

How Many Lumens Should You Have Along a Path?

Path lighting is a form of safety lighting in my opinion. The number of lumens can be debatable. I also count steps as part of a path. I feel like it all needs to be lit. The more the merrier in my opinion, because I’m such a klutz when it comes to walking. If there’s a hole, a side of the path to misstep on, or something in my way to trip over – I will find it. 

You should probably use 100-200 lumens at intervals along your path. And I would recommend 100 lumens on your stairs, only because that is usually a condensed space. Again, adjustable lighting with a motion sensor is probably a preferable way to go. That way, it’s just very discreetly lit unless someone is actually using the stairs. 

How Many Lumens Should You Be Using for Floodlights and Security Lights? 

Do you know how most lighting thus far has been relatively low? Well, floodlights and security lights are going to be high lumen areas. You shouldn’t even consider having lumens less than 700 for these areas. Up to 1300 lumens are usually acceptable for most areas. I would only use those 2400 lumen bulbs if it were for a large business or garage lighting – you know, for larger areas. 

When it comes to security lights and floodlights, you need to be sure that your lighting is not pointed in a way that annoys your neighbors. These lights should always be angled downward. Our lighting is plentiful around the cars and back gate – we use dusk until dawn LEDs at 800 lumens each. 

The main thing about security lighting is placement over lumen for the most part. Keep your cars and entrances well lit to deter criminal activity. And if you have motion sensors that suddenly turn on higher lumens or more light – it can startle anything from thieves to raccoons. Mission accomplished without the constant bright light. 

Are There Limitations on Lumens?

I would say that when it comes to a private dwelling, anything over 2000 lumens is a bit off-putting and possibly downright annoying. Especially if you live in a neighborhood where houses are close together. Even most security floodlights come well under that measure. 

Think of it this way, a 1000 lumen flashlight can allow you to see across an entire football field at night and depending upon how the light gets refracted, it can also shine outward to each side for a significant distance. So, do you really need light bulbs with lumens any higher than this? 

Keep in mind that many cities have adopted ordinances that limit the amount of light pollution in the area. You should look up these rules and regulations before going wild with lighting up your house. 

In Conclusion

For a decent security light – especially the ones that are motion sensing, the lumens are usually around 700 – 1000 lumens. At most, your floodlights should be 1300 lumens. 

So, don’t go wild with your lumens. If you go by the local ordinances and also make sure that you use LEDs and do as much as possible to conserve energy, you may find that the lumens needed for your home’s safety and security are lower than you first thought.

Photo of author


"Growing up a country-girl means you enjoy the outdoors as much as possible, and no matter where you go in life, the outdoors is always part of you. I began doing research on things I wanted to do to make my outdoor space my own, no matter where we moved. And that research led me to write this blog to share with you!"