outdoor lighting at night

Outdoor Lighting: Lumens, Wattage, Foot Candles Guide

Illuminating commercial outdoor spaces requires more than just choosing the brightest or the most energy-efficient lights. It’s about knowing the sophisticated point of the balance of lumens, wattage, and foot candles to bring a lighting environment that not only serves function and safety but is also energy-efficient. This is what this guide is all about covering: essential information for considering commercial outdoor lighting.

Lumens: The Brightness Factor

Lumens are one of the most important variables when determining the brightness of outdoor lights. For commercial settings, the required lumens might differ according to the purpose of the area and the size. 

For instance, the minor roads and lanes may have a need for adequate lighting of about 2500-3000 lumens, while on the other hand, the busier roads and highways may have a need for 10000-15000 lumens. This factor of difference is something that has a critical bearing in the planning of lighting for the many diverse outdoor environments. 

When it comes to LED technology, getting high lumens does not mean consumption is any higher, making it a preferred alternative to balancing brightness and energy efficiency.

Wattage: Understanding Energy Consumption

In an age of sustainability, knowledge of energy consumption can be very vital. LEDS revolutionize this by providing high-lumen output but with significantly lower wattage. In other words, it points to the benefit of saving energy given by LEDs as a wise solution to outdoor lighting in commercial areas, where bright light is given but with minimized energy costs. 

The real question is finding out how many watts must be used to create the light that is wanted without consuming an amount of energy that is out of proportion with the use of the lighting.

Foot Candles: Measuring Illumination at the Ground Level

Foot candles are a measure of how much light reaches a surface; they ensure that an area is adequately lit in commercial outdoor spaces. It ensures that specific areas—walkways or parking lots—are given the light they need for safety. For instance, the path light along the walkways may require from 100 to 200 lumens per 3 or 4 feet to ensure that light is at the required level, or step lights may require between 12 and 100 lumens for good visibility and safety.

The Interplay of Lumens, Wattage, and Foot Candles in Lighting Design

Balancing these three elements is crucial in lighting design. For instance, a well-lit parking lot may require high lumen output with moderate wattage while maintaining a certain foot candle level to ensure visibility and safety.

The Role of Lighting in Safety and Security

Lighting plays a role in improving safety and security in outdoor commercial premises when it is effective. ‘Illumination for Safety’ means proper lighting for persons to recognize trip hazards on either side of the path, for instance, irregularities in the pavement or debris. 

Outdoor Lighting: Lumens, Wattage, Foot Candles Guide National LED
Outdoor Lighting: Lumens, Wattage, Foot Candles Guide 2

And ‘Illumination for Safety’ also deals with the horizontal plane illumination of the path, to assure safety for all within the path, be it pedestrians or bikers. On the other hand, ‘Illumination for Security’ deals with ensuring that there are no threats to people or property.

Innovations in Commercial Outdoor Lighting

Modern LEDs provide enhanced lumens output with very low wattages, hence being an energy-efficient choice for outdoor spaces. They are, therefore, guaranteed to last longer and have been found to be the most energy-efficient lighting available. Moreover, smart technology imbibed in the outdoor lighting system, like motion sensors and automatic adjustment of brightness, improves energy efficiency and functionality. All of these lead, in turn, not only to a reduction in energy consumption but also to the added convenience and adaptability of a lighting system. 

Key Takeaway: In outdoor lighting, balancing lumens with wattage is key for energy efficiency. Properly chosen lumens enhance illumination in outdoor lighting, while optimal wattage use contributes to sustainability and cost savings.

Sustainability in Lighting

Choosing the right lighting solutions with a balance of lumens and wattage has a significant impact on environmental sustainability. 

The shift towards energy-efficient lighting, particularly solar-powered options, is becoming increasingly popular in commercial outdoor settings. 

Solar lights offer the benefit of both low energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint—an easy, sustainable option that is also eco-friendly. Solar lights, in addition to LED technologies, all add up to sustainable development by minimal environmental pollution but are efficient and effective for lighting.


Understanding lumens, wattage, and foot candles is crucial in selecting the right commercial outdoor lighting. It’s a balance of science and art that ensures outdoor spaces are not only well-lit but also safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly. You can also learn more about the best outdoor lighting option for you by consulting NationalLED.

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