How Bright Should Patio Lights Be? Light the Patio Like a Pro

Patio lighting or any outdoor lighting process is not always easy. You would want to make your home appear welcoming from first sight. Some of you may be unsure of how to go about it as you fear the lighting becoming a sore to the neighbors’ eyes. Modern lighting has offered solutions to almost all problems that you may have.

The question, in this case, is just how bright should your patio lights be. We will look at what the outdoor lighting experts have to say in this article. In the end, I hope you will know how and why you should light your patio.

What Are Lumens? Difference between Lumens and Watts

It makes a lot of sense for the brightness of outdoor lights to vary depending on the location and function. So, how would you measure the brightness of a light bulb? This is important when deciding on the design of the patio and outdoor lights.

In the past, you could easily tell how bright a light bulb is by the number of watts the bulb uses. For decorative purposes, 45-watt bulbs were often used. Most people used 60-watt bulbs for the interior. The light produced by such bulbs was fair enough to complete most tasks.

For task lighting, where bright bulbs were required, the wattage was about 100. Garages, workbenches and kitchens were the places where you would have a lot of such bulbs. Outdoor lights were specified by the designer on the wattage required. 

With the arrival of LEDs, fluorescent lights, and halogen bulbs, watts have become an unreliable measure of brightness. For instance, LEDs with 23 watts can produce the same brightness as a 100-watt traditional incandescent bulb. So, lumens have been adapted as a measure of brightness independent of the wattage.

Lumens are the measure of actual light, intensity, and brightness of light coming from a light bulb. Energy consumption is not very important when it comes to lumens. The wattage on the other hand is the measure of the amount of energy a light bulb uses. This does not take into account how bright the bulb is. 

Since lumens are equal to brightness, the higher the lumens, the brighter a light bulb is. We should therefore learn to rely on lumens to tell how bright a light bulb is. You can also use the color temperature when deciding on the brightness of your outdoor lights.

How Many Lumens Are Enough for a Patio?

Patio lights can be fun, cozy, or bright depending on how you plan to use the patio. Most of the time patio lights are ambient. So, how many lumens are enough for my patio? The best factor to consider in this case is the size of your patio.

600 to 800 lumens are enough for a small patio if you locate the lights properly. For a large patio, 1200 lumens should be the minimum. You can go up to around 1600 lumens. You have to make sure that you can do tasks on your patio without struggling so much to see. 

There are other additional lights to the patio like the solar and string lights. Such will help change the mood of the patio comfortably. Most string lights will be around 40 lumens while the lumens of the overhead lights range from 80 to 130 lumens.

Light Pollution and Prevention

Image credit: One Kings Lane

Would you like to see a nice star-filled sky over the night? If you reside in a city or a densely populated town, chances are low that you will see the stars. The reason for this is light pollution where the several lights in the city combine to make a bright glow over the city.

The bright glow not only affects human beings but also animals. Some animals use light to organize their movement and behavior patterns like feeding, migration, and sleep. People in cities cannot even enjoy a night of stars in the comfort of their patio.

Light trespass is another form of light pollution. It occurs when light from the bulbs travels in an unintended direction and causes discomfort. For example, an outdoor light of your neighbor shining through your bedroom’s window. It is important that when you install the outdoor lights, make sure you avoid light trespass as a good neighbor. 

Glare is a common form of light pollution. This happens when there is too bright a light coming from a certain direction. It may cause blinding effects to certain people at certain angles. For example, bright car lights blinding the drivers on the road. This can also happen in homes where the too bright outdoor lights become annoying to your neighbors. 

The best prevention method is to use specifically designed outdoor light fixtures. You may find those with trespass and glare guards so that you have your lights shining in the required direction. The type of lighting makes a big difference where those facing downwards have less light pollution. Keep the brightness of outdoor bulbs at proper levels and there would be no light pollution.

Choosing Energy-Efficient Patio Light Bulbs

Yes, you would like to work with the most efficient light bulbs that you can find. It may be at the level of brightness that you need but consuming a lot of power. Here are some of the things to consider when buying the lights bulbs to save on costs;

  • If you are going for the incandescent bulbs, lean towards the halogen ones. These bulbs are 25% more efficient than the standard incandescent bulb while also lasting up to 3 times longer. You can find them in different shapes, sizes, colors, and designs
  • Be keen on the ENERGY STAR label that is used by manufacturers of LED bulbs. The star signifies that the bulbs have passed several important tests to earn that recognition.
  • Check the Color Rendering Index (CRI) before purchasing a light bulb. This is a measurement of how well the color of an object appears under the light bulbs. 90 and above CRI is a really good choice.
  • Look for LED lights with warmer color temperatures with readings range between 2700K to 3000K. 4000K is for the white lights while cooler color temperatures have readings of 5000K or more. 
  • Lumens are more important than watts for brightness.


We have gone through the details on lumens and how they can help you arrive at the best choice. Have an analysis of your patio before deciding on the lumens you need. Also, the mood and events on your patio are important considerations. We should also strive to minimize light pollution and enjoy our beautiful night skies. Go to the nearest electrical shop and get the best patio lights available.