Flood Light 101: What Is It and How Does It Work?

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Gone are the days when we had to go babbling outside in the dark, relying on that one particular flood light source that barely illuminates the front door while we had things to do way back in the yard. With state-of-the-art outdoor lighting, we no longer have to find our way in the dark (quite literally). One of the best examples of outdoor lighting is a flood light. 

What are flood lights? What are these lights for and how do they work? How are they different from spotlights? We break them all down for you in this post, so continue reading. 

Flood Lights: What Are They? 

Apart from spotlights, these lights are the most popular type of lights that are used outdoors. They are an artificial form of light with a broad beam and commonly used to illuminate large areas at night. These areas include outdoor playing fields, stadiums, large parking lots, theatre halls, and other places that host events such as concerts. You may have already seen some of the more popular sorts of flood lights outdoors, like streetlights. 

So why are they called flood lights, you must be wondering? The correct use of the term is only in a context where you refer to very strong beams of light, but nowadays you can use the term to describe outdoor fixtures you install in your own backyard. 

What are the components of these light fixtures? 

As previously mentioned, these light fixtures are mostly used outdoors. This means they need to withstand all sorts of weather conditions and should be built with durability in mind. The most common outdoor light fixtures are a special type made with a durable metal casing (aluminium in most cases). This metal casing protects the lighting fixture from rain, high and low temperatures, high winds, and storms. 

The more basic light fixtures for regular outdoor usage are made with less durable plastic casings. But even if they are made with plastic casings, they can withstand common weather conditions like hot temperatures, rain, and even snow. There are also solar types that collect sun energy using a solar panel and stores it in a rechargeable battery. Later at night, it uses this stored energy to power the light. 

How do they work and what are they used for? 

The diversity of these light fixtures has greatly increased over the past years. What makes these fixtures different from other types of light is not just the broad light angle but also the fact that they have to be resistant in the face of weather elements like rain or frost. This is why they need to be significantly more resistant compared to indoor light fixtures. 

People use these outdoor light fixtures for two reasons: 

Night-time Illumination 

These lights have a broad beam angle and can illuminate a wide radius. 


Apart from illuminating a space, these lights also offer security as they let you see from a distance who is approaching your property. 

When purchasing an outdoor light for security reasons, you can go for models with more advanced features including motion sensors and cameras that start recording when movement is detected, so you can have video footage of what’s going on outside of your home. Most outdoor lights commercially available today have a sensor that is sensitive to the slightest movement within a certain radius and can be adjusted depending on the distance you want to capture. 

Bulb Types 

The way in which flood lights work will depend on many different factors, for instance, the type of light bulb they use. Most flood lights use halogen, CLF, or LED bulbs. A CFL flood light is less common than a LED or halogen type. This is because light fixtures with CFL bulbs are more brittle and have a significantly shorter lifetime than other bulb types. 

If you want to opt for the brightest bulbs, choose halogens. They have a shorter lifetime than LED diodes, though. Today, the most popular type of bulbs used in these light fixtures are LEDs, which are the most energy-efficient. They will cut more on electricity bills, too. 


So, we’ve already established that flood lights use different bulbs. When choosing which light fixture to buy, it’s also important to consider the brightness and coverage. For incandescent bulbs, they emit more light if they have higher wattage rating. With the LED types, the amount of power they consume is generally less than CLF and halogen types, but usually the bigger the area they cover, the more power they consume. 

Beam Angle 

Also, consider the beam angle of the light fixtures you want to buy. You might want to go for the ones with a wide beam angle of 180°. Light fixtures with wide beam angles are bright enough to light up even the neighbour’s backyard. 

How are flood lights different from spotlights? 

The major difference between flood lights and spotlights is their beam angle. Spotlights usually have a beam angle that is no wider than 45 degrees and cast a narrow beam of light that is more concentrated and easier to point and control. They are best used for highlighting points like wall artwork, display objects, architectural details, or landscape features. 

Flood lights, on the other hand, can have a beam angle of up to 120 degrees. They can illuminate a larger amount of space with the same lumen output and wattage as spotlights. 

Other Things to Keep in Mind 

Are you in the market ready to purchase outdoor floodlights? There are certain shopping considerations to keep in mind. Here are some of them. 

  • The range of the light is the distance that the light can cover. 
    (Some people make the mistake of buying lights that are too powerful and end up lighting the neighbour’s yard as well.) 
  • The area that requires lighting is the detection zone. 
    (You will need to purchase a light fixture with a wide detection zone if you want to be able to cover a wide yard.) 

Shop for Flood Lights Here at Galaxy Lighting 

Installing a flood light system is a great way to monitor your home’s surroundings. If you’re looking for flood lights, check out our collection here at Galaxy Lighting, helping you find your way in the dark (quite literally).

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