Understanding Your Solar Lights: What Are Lumens?

You’ve probably heard about lumens before or seen them advertised when buying outdoor solar lights, but what are lumens exactly? What do lumens mean, and how to know how many lumens you need to light up your outside space?

Number of Lumens

When looking for lights you’ll come across a lot of technical terminologies. Watts, lumens, LED lights, halogen, incandescent, fluorescent… If you don’t know what these things mean, it’s difficult to decide what light best fits your needs. So that’s where this short article comes in.

Below, you’ll find answers to questions like what are lumens in lighting, what is the difference between watts and lumens, and how manysolar light lumens is recommended for my outdoor space?

After this article, you’ll know all you need to know to find the right lights for your project. So, let’s illuminate the topic for you so you can start adding some more brightness to your garden. Let’s go!

What are Lumens in Lighting?

Let’s start by answering the question what does lumens mean, and how this affects your choice in solar lights.

The lumen (lm) is – in technical terms – the unit of luminous flux, which tells you how much visible light is generated by a particular source for a specific unit of time. More simply put, the number of lumens measures how bright a light is to the human eye. So, the more lumens a light has, the brighter it will shine.

Lumens vs. Watts

The lumen differs from the watt (W), which is a measurement of energy rather than brightness. The more watts, the more power/energy your lamp will use, but that doesn’t mean the light will be brighter (i.e. emit more lumens).

So, for example, a lamp can have 60 watts of power but produce only 800 lumens, while a more energy-efficient lamp might have only 25 watts but produce 3500 lumens.

And this energy-efficiency is exactly the reason why lumen is an increasingly popular measurement compared to watts. You see, back in the day, the number of watts would tell you approximately how bright a light would be.

But as halogen incandescent lamps are replaced by more energy-efficient alternatives like fluorescent or light-emitting diode (LED) lamps, the number of watts tells you a lot less about the brightness of a lamp. Hence the rise of the lumen.

So How Bright is a Lumen?

Now we know what lumens are. But before we look at how many lumens you need for your outdoor lighting, we need to quickly explain this point a bit more. You see, many people ask this question, but there isn’t a clear answer.

That’s because a lumen on its own still doesn’t paint the whole picture. How bright a lumen is dependent upon on the space around it as well, as well as factors like the objects surrounding it or the type of room.

That is why a better measurement is the lumens per square foot. But what are the recommended lumens per square foot for your outdoor lighting?

Solar Path Light

Unfortunately, this is still not that easy to answer, as it also depends on multiple other factors such as the height of your light and if there is anything in the path of the light, like trees for example.

So, what should you look at?

When it comes to lighting your outdoor space, the best thing to keep in mind is the purpose of the light and the range of lumens that fits that purpose. So, let’s have a look at those different ranges.

How many Lumens do I Need for Outdoor Lighting?

As we’ve seen, the number of lumens you need still depends on your personal taste as well as your outdoor space. In fact, when it comes to lighting a garden or other outdoor space the number of required lumens can range anywhere from as little as 15 lumens to as bright as 1300 lumens.

For example, if you want to install solar step lights in your garden, you can do with a light that doesn’t emit many lumens (50 lumens will probably suffice) as it is close to the ground and only needs to illuminate a small patch of the surface.

However, if you’re looking for a solar flood light to shine a light on a large area (like your entire back garden) a 50-lumen light isn’t going to cut it. In this case, you probably need at least 800 lumens, but this really depends on the size of the area that you are trying to shed light on.

Therefore, it is difficult to exactly pinpoint how many lumens you need for your project. But, based on our experience in solar lights and what others say, we can give you a rough overview of the number of solar light lumens per type of outdoor lighting.

Bear in mind though that these ranges are just recommendations, and your personal preference might be different as well:

  • Step lights: 20-100 lms
  • Pond/underwater lights: 200-400 lms
  • Floodlights: 800-1400 lms
  • Path lights: 100-200 lms
  • Landscape lights: 50-300 lms

As a rule of thumb, it is best to stick to fewer lumens when your outdoor light is meant to be decorative and more lumens when it is for lighting and/or safety purposes (like motion-sensor lights above your garage door).

Solar Light Lumens Explained

We hope that after reading this article you know a bit more about lumens, and how many lumens you need for your outdoor lighting.

When you first start looking for outdoor solar lights all the different technical terms and features can seem a bit daunting. The difference between watts and lumens, in particular, is often a point of confusion.

Hopefully, this short overview has shed some light on the situation. Not only do you now know how bright a lumen is, but you’ll also have a rough idea of how many lumens you need for your outdoor lighting.

So, the next time someone asks you what lumens are, you will know what to tell them!