Do I Need Special Light Bulbs for Outside?

You might be interested in setting up light bulbs outdoors. It may be that you want to light up your patio or the outdoors generally. Should you pick any light bulb or do you need special bulbs?

The quick answer is that you should always consider the lights meant to work for outdoor conditions. These conditions include higher temperatures, dust, grime, rain, and so much more. 

Even though there might be other light bulbs that can work for both indoors and outdoors, it is not always the case. Sometimes you might find that the indoor light bulbs cannot work outdoors. 

So, there are special features you must look at to decide if the light bulbs are good for outdoor use. 

The UL Rating 

UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories. This is an independent laboratory known for testing and certifying different types of products. This also happens to your light bulbs. 

Most manufacturers would have their products UL tested and certified. Once the certification is done, you would know if the light bulb would be great for outdoor use. 

UL rating can have different meanings depending on the score the light bulbs achieved. Below are some of the different options you would get when looking at UL listings for light bulbs. 

  • UL Listed

This rating means that the light bulbs are designed to be used in dry locations. This includes locations such as dining rooms, living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms too since there will be a protective cover in most cases. 

  • Suitable for Damp Locations 

It can also have the rating “Suitable for Wet Locations.” You will find this one being ideal for bathtubs, utility rooms, and indoor pool areas. 

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In case you have to use the damp rated fixtures or products outdoors, make sure the outdoor area is covered. It can be under a patio where it will be covered and not directly exposed to water. 

  • Suitable for Wet Locations 

The design of these light bulbs allow them to be used for both indoor and outdoor wet locations. This is definitely good for your patio, gazebo, decks, and open dining areas. 

Where to Use Each Light Bulb Type

  • LED lights can be used both outdoors and indoors
  • The CFLs are suitable for outdoor use, but you should check the max temperature the bulb can endure
  • Incandescent flood light bulbs would be suitable for outdoors and indoors use. Just make sure they do not get in contact with water if used outdoors. 
  • Halogen spotlights are suitable for indoor and outdoor use. The same applies to flood light bulbs. 
  • Xenon bulbs are great for indoor and outdoor use. Just make sure to check the packaging for the recommended use.
  • Metal Halide light bulbs are recommended for both indoor and outdoor use

Other Things You Should Consider

  1. Brightness 

It is often easier to see that light bulbs would have different brightnesses. A good example is when you look at two lit bulbs. It is so easy to see which one is brighter. 

In the past, the greater the amount of watts meant that the light bulb would be brighter. However, that has changed a lot over the years. We now have the energy-saving bulbs. 

Right now, the brightness is often based on the lumens rather than the wattage amount. 

Wattage means that amount of energy used by the light bulb at a given time. However, lumen is the appropriate way of determining the light amount or brightness the light bulb emits. 

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It is interesting how bulbs can have the same wattage rating, but lumens are different. It is why right now you can find that LED lights using less power will have more brightness than CFL lights. 

How many lumens are enough?

Now that you know more about lumens, you may be wondering just how many lumens would be enough for you to consider getting. 

There are a few things that would affect the overall brightness in the room. They include;

  • Shape of the room 
  • Size of the room 
  • Ceiling height 
  • Wall color 

Also, how you will be using the light would determine what you get as the number of lumens. Are you looking for ambient lighting, task lighting, or accent lighting? These are some of the questions you would be asking yourself. 

Here is a table with quick estimations on the amount of light you might need for different rooms and locations. 

Room/LocationLumens 
OutdoorsAmbient: 1000 to 2000
Task(Pathways): 300 min
Home OfficeAmbient: 3000 to 6000
Task(Desk): 1200 min
BathroomAmbient: 4000 to 8000
Task(Mirror): 1700 min
BedroomAmbient: 2000 to 4000
Task(Reading): 500 min
Task(Closet): 400 min
KitchenAmbient: 5000 to 10000
Task(counters, ranges, sinks): 450 min
Dining RoomAmbient and Task: 3000 to 6000
Living Room Ambient: 1500 to 3000
Task(Reading): 400 min
Entries, Halls, and StairwaysAmbient: 1200 to 4000
  1. The Cost 

Another thing to consider is the cost. Different brands would price their light bulbs differently based on a few factors. In most cases, it will depend on the type of technology, lifespan, energy use, and more. 

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When you compare the LED lights to the incandescent and CFL lights, you will quickly notice that LED lights use less energy while at the same offer more brightness. This makes LEDs more expensive. 

Even though that is the case, you will end up saving a lot more in the end on your energy bills. Also, you will not have to replace the bulbs more often.

  1. Appearance 

You would also have to consider the appearance of the light when making up your mind. 

The color that you see is based on the thermodynamic temperature of the light the bulb emits. This temperature is measured in Kelvins. Keep in mind this is not the heat the bulb generates while it is working. 

If this temperature is higher, you end up with a cooler light in the room. The light bulbs generate light from warm to cool. The warm color is what you would get with a candle. It is 1,900K. As for the cool color, it is the same as what you get from a car headlight with a color temperature of 6,000K. 

The light color tends to affect the mood that you can feel on overall while in the room. 

The light can affect things such as cognitive performance and alertness too. There is no doubt you would always want to change the lighting depending on the mood you are into. Also, this can determine which light bulb you choose in the end. 

Conclusion 

There is no doubt having the best light bulbs for your patio can go a long way in making sure that you get a nice illumination. It does not have to be illumination alone as you can also consider the mood. If you like to relax on the patio, get the right light color so that you have a nice time enjoying the outdoors.