Landscape lighting is about making your home safer by increasing night-time visibility while highlighting the best features of your outdoor spaces. However, such a system is not easy to design and those just starting out in outdoor lighting might get confused by the variety of bulbs available on the market.
To help you get started, we’ve put together the basics of outdoor lighting. Read our guide to learn about the best outdoor light bulbs, such as the best light bulbs for cold weather or the best decorative outdoor light bulbs, and find out how these can enhance your outdoor spaces at night.
What is the Best Light Bulb for Outdoor Landscape Lighting?
For outdoor lighting fixtures, there are generally five types of bulbs to choose from. The most popular type is LED, not surprisingly: they are versatile, long-lasting, and energy-efficient and have become affordable over the years. Nevertheless, it is worth knowing the main characteristics of all the different types and to be able to choose the best outdoor light bulbs for your needs.
Types of Outdoor Light Bulbs
LED (light-emitting diode) lights have several benefits. Not only are they long-lasting, but they also consume significantly less energy than any other type of bulb. They come in different colors, brightness levels, and shapes to suit any need.
Even though not as energy-efficient as LED lights, Halogen bulbs are often used for outdoor lighting. Due to their brightness, they might be the best light bulb for outdoor lamp posts, lighting up spaces like garages and other zones where you need increased visibility.
Incandescent bulbs are the cheapest option initially, but they consume 90 percent more energy than LED lights. These bulbs are not long-lasting and should only be used outside if they are not exposed to wet weather conditions.
The technology with the brightest outdoor light bulb, HID (high-intensity discharge) lights are not common in landscape lighting due to their intense brightness, but they might work if you want to cover a large area with bright light.
Energy-efficient and long-lasting, CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs work well in landscape lighting. However, their odd shape makes them unsuitable for spaces where aesthetics play an important role, around an outdoor dining area, for instance.
Types of Outdoor Light Bulbs LED: Our Favorites in 2022
Cree BR30 Soft White Dimmable LED Flood Bulb:
A reliable allrounder with a lifespan of 23 years. This dimmable light bulb produces a pleasing soft white light, suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
Philips Dusk-to-Dawn Light Bulb:
Dusk-to-Dawn bulbs have sensors to light up after sunset and turn off when daylight comes. This bulb by Philips only uses eight watts of power while emitting a soft white light.
TP-LINK Kasa Smart Light Bulb:
Step into 2022 with a smart bulb that you can control through a personal device. With features such as energy monitoring, multi-color settings, timers and countdowns, smart bulbs are a convenient choice for your changing lighting needs throughout the night.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Outdoor Light Bulb
Most outdoor light bulbs have a weather rating that will tell you what weather conditions they can withstand. Not all bulbs are rated weather-resistant, and these need a fixture with shielding. Outdoor bulbs rated weatherproof, on the other hand, can be safely exposed to both rain and snow. Depending on the climate you live in, you should use this weather rating to find the best outdoor light bulbs for cold weather or rainy conditions.
Base size determines which fixtures your bulbs are compatible with. The most common bulb base in the US for screw-type bulbs is E26, compatible with most floodlights, entryway, and spotlight fixtures (and with most indoor lamps). However, some fixtures require bulbs with smaller bases (E17 or E12), so when replacing bulbs, check the bulb base before opting for a standard E26 bulb.
Energy Efficiency and Lifespan:
For economic and environmental reasons, the lifespan and efficiency of the bulb are important to consider. In general, LED and CFL type bulbs have the longest lifespan (between six and ten years for CFL bulbs, and up to 25 years with LED bulbs). Halogen bulbs last for two to three years, while incandescent bulbs almost always burn out after a year of use.
The ranking is the same in terms of efficiency: a halogen bulb uses 43 watts to achieve the same brightness as a 60-watt incandescent bulb, while an LED or CFL bulb uses only 13 and 14 watts, respectively.
What Color Temperature is the Best for Outdoor Lighting?
Color temperature is measured on the Kelvin scale: the higher the number, the cooler the light. The best outdoor light bulbs have warm, relaxing light (around 3000K) to help create a cozy atmosphere in your outdoor spaces. In general, bulbs within the 2500K-3000K range will suit most of your outdoor lighting needs.
What are Lumens and How Many are Needed for Outdoor Lighting?
In the heyday of incandescent light bulbs, wattage was used to indicate the brightness and energy consumption of the bulb. Now, with new energy-saving technologies, the amount of energy consumed by the bulb is no longer an indication of its brightness. Thus, the lumen has become the new unit of measurement for the brightness of a light bulb. How many lumens your outdoor lighting needs depends on the function.
In general, bright bulbs with above 700 lumens are used for security and visibility purposes (keeping in mind that an 800-lumen LED light is the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent bulb, and outdoor led light bulbs 100 watt equivalent have 1600 lumens which are too bright). Pool lights, path lights, and decorative outdoor light bulbs may stay in the 50-400 lumen range.
Landscape lighting is an exciting project to embark on, but the wide variety of bulbs on the market can be overwhelming. To bring out the most of your landscape lighting design, call 818-341-8091 or fill out our online form to book a free consultation with Hevi Lite. Our experts can advise on the best light bulbs for outside fixtures to make sure your outdoor lighting continues to wow–throughout 2022 and for many years to come.