How to Choose Outdoor Light

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by molo, Aug 28, 2008.

  1. molo

    molo Member

    Messages:
    857
    Location:
    cold new york
    Are there any specific features that I should be looking for to find a light that is motion activated and very bright for a driveway?

    What are good quality brands/features that i should seek out?


    Thanks for any replys,
  2. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    If you are certain that you want motion, I'd go with one that takes standard screw in floodlights. The quartz lamps are very bright but get very hot and tend to burn the sockets. Plus you have to search for replacement lamps.

    If the light is for security, I'd go with a dusk/dawn 13 watt compact fluorescent fixture. Long life lamps and about 25 cents a month to operate dusk/dawn.
  3. molo

    molo Member

    Messages:
    857
    Location:
    cold new york
    I like the sounds of the dusk/dawn compact fluorescent 13 wat fixture,

    BUT I want it to be BRIGHT, is this possible with this type of lamp?

    Thanks for any replys
  4. Furd

    Furd Engineer

    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Wet side of Washington State
    I have "lanterns" on either side of my double garage door with 13 watt CFLs and they illuminate my driveway quite well. Of course I also have a standard street lamp at the outer end of my driveway (about forty feet from the garage) so maybe that makes a difference.

    I wouldn't say that the CFLs give off enough light to play basketball at midnight though.
  5. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    You might consider the small compact fluorescents for all-night security lights, using light sensing to power that circuit.

    Then use a bright incandescent on that circuit that has a motion sensor.

    The bright light will come on only when dark AND the motion signal is received. Total kWHr is not significant with a motion sensor light unless you have a lot of animals running around.

    Fluorescents and other lights of that type don't work well with motion detectors where you want instant-on and lots of illumination.
  6. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    Define bright.

    I have 6, 13 watt cf's all around my cabin in the mountains and it looks like a UFO landing when they are all on.

    If you are using a table saw outside at night you might want more light.

    If the kids are playin basketball, it's plenty bright.

    If you want security light, it's more than enough. It's all about placement.
  7. molo

    molo Member

    Messages:
    857
    Location:
    cold new york
    BRIGHT in this application is enough light to "flood" a driveway that passes the corner of the building, and goes about 40' downhill. I'd also like to light the driveway as it levels out at the top for about 30'.

    So maybe I need lighting in 2-directions.


    Thanks for any replys
  8. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    I have a Lights of America Model 9266, 65 Watt fluorescent floodlight that lights up about a 40 x 40 ft area more than three 150 Watt incandescent floods used to do. http://www.amazon.com/review/product/B001BPYIZ6?filterBy=addFourStar

    My neighbors remarked on how bright it is.

    Check your local power company for energy saving lights. I got two of these for about $15 each through a power company deal but they are no longer available to me at that bargain price.

    If you want something that goes around corners you can get a mercury vapor or sodium vapor light that covers 360 degrees and mount it at the corner of the house just below the roof line. It will shine like a street light.

    Those lights don't work too well for motion-activated because they take a while to come up to brightness. It takes maybe 10 seconds to get up to shooting light.
  9. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    The compact fluorescents give off a more even light that appears brighter than incandescents in outside "flood" situations. The packages usually give the equivalent incandescent values. I manage a neighborhood pool and replaced all ten 150W bulbs with 17W CFLs years ago, and save us a boot load of cash since they are on so much. One of our more fussy owners complained that the lights were too bright, until I showed her that the actual lumens were less than before.

    I replaced the perimeter 150W floods on my home with the CFL floods, same deal: less lumens, a lot less wattage, but visibility is notably better. The only issue with them is that they take about a minute to warm up to full output.

    I have tried using them in a interior room with a wall mounted motion sensor and they did not work. I have one on a exterior photocell and it works fine. I think it depends on the individual switching device.
  10. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    That's what I'd do
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