The Ultimate Guide to Flood Lighting


Things to consider

  • The task at hand – whether it’s construction, exterior maintenance works, plastering or painting, your purpose will influence the type and brightness of the floodlight you choose.
  • Location – you need to consider how big an area needs to be lit up, whether the light will be intruding on a neighbour’s property, and if it could distort the vision of oncoming drivers.
  • Energy efficiency – the different types of floodlights, from halogen to LED to SON, all use up wildly different amounts of energy, so running costs will vary as well.


Flood lighting is useful for a variety of purposes. It is used both domestically and commercially, for security purposes, working outside, or simply illuminating a porch or garden. Large floodlights can be found in stadiums, car parks, tennis courts, construction sites and warehouses, while smaller variants can be found indoors, used for precision work in dark areas or highlighting important objects and decor.

You need to consider the various floodlight options and specifications to be able to choose the best flood lighting for the job at hand. This guide will help steer you towards the correct choice.

What is flood lighting?

Floodlights are broad-beamed, high-intensity artificial lights that spread an even illumination across large areas, thereby avoiding shadows. This is why we use the word “flood” to describe them.

They are basically the opposite of spotlights. A spotlight usually has a reflector and lens assembly, which concentrates the light on a narrow spot. Floodlights, on the other hand, spread light everywhere.

Before you make a decision on flood lighting hire, you need to know about the many different types that are available. Each type has its own advantages, disadvantages, levels of energy efficiency and ideal uses. You also need to know about the difference between lumens and watts, in order to help you select the brightness you need.

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What is the difference between lumens and watts?

Watts are a unit of power, whereas lumens are a measurement of brightness/light output. For decades we’ve been buying light bulbs based on their wattage. However, certain bulbs like LEDs can produce the same amount of light using a much lower wattage than others.

This is why many people are now buying bulbs according to their light output rather than their power output — an altogether more accurate measurement of how bright your lamp should be. 1 lumen is roughly equivalent in brightness to a single candle flame.

Converting lumens to watts

The chart below gives you an idea of roughly many lumens you get from a variety of light bulbs at different wattage levels.

How Many Lumens Do You Need? (240V)
Brightness (Lumens) 220+ 400+ 700+ 900+ 1300+
Incandescent 25W 40W 60W 75W 100W
Halogen 18W 28W 42W 53W 70W
CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) 6W 9W 12W 15W 20W
LED 4W 6W 10W 13W 18W

In the case of floodlights, people are typically seeking lumen values in the thousands. A small 9m2 patio might require 1300 lumens to be floodlit. A car park or industrial loading bay might require closer to 9,000 lumens.

Different types of floodlights

The type of floodlight is likely to affect your buying choice, considering that each technology has its own set of attributes and limitations.

  • LED – these are 80-90% more energy-efficient than halogen equivalents. They also operate reliably in cold temperatures as low as -20°C, are resistant to shock and vibration, and have long lifespans. These attributes reduce costs and make LED floodlights a great choice for hard-to-reach areas.
  • Halogen – these consume a lot of energy, but they produce excellent, vivid light quality with accurate colour rendering. You can lessen the impact of their poor energy efficiency by using a PIR motion sensor. This limits the amount of time the halogen floodlight is switched on.
  • CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) – these are modern, high-frequency, fluorescent floodlights, which produce energy-efficient, flicker-free, noiseless light for a modest upfront cost. The disadvantages include warm-up time and lower resilience to cold temperatures than LED floodlights.
  • Metal halide – these powerful, energy-efficient lights emit a phenomenal amount of light and are ideal for illuminating car parks, sports grounds and industrial areas. The energy efficiency of metal-halide floodlights is about the same as LED floodlights, in terms of amount of lumens produced per watt.
  • SON (high-pressure sodium lamps) – these are the most energy-efficient floodlights you can get. They typically produce 120 lumens per watt and are ideal for lighting large areas. However, colour rendering is poor next to competing technologies. This is why SON floodlights are more useful as practical light sources (i.e. for open car parks) as opposed to aesthetic ones.

How to control floodlights

When you hire flood lighting, you need to consider control and containment of light. If there are neighbours a short distance away, they’re unlikely to appreciate getting blasted by floodlights. Equally, you need to make sure you’re not distorting the vision of oncoming drivers.

Most floodlights emit a wide beam of light. Beam angles vary, but you can also control the light by making sure it’s only as powerful as you need it to be, and by positioning it carefully. For instance, pointing the floodlight downwards at a 22° angle will generally ensure that you don’t blind drivers. Furthermore, the naturally directional output of an LED floodlight can help prevent stray light.

Choosing a colour temperature

Colour temperature is an important specification in flood lighting hire.

If you want to highlight architecture, accentuate parts of your home or garden, or illuminate entertainment/hospitality functions, warm white floodlights are ideal because of the cosy, welcoming atmosphere they create.

Cool white floodlights are generally preferred for security purposes and can act as a deterrent for criminals. Also, a cooler colour temperature is a good idea if you’re looking to hire flood lighting for working under. Since it’s similar to natural daylight, cool white floodlights help stimulate alertness and concentration.

Tips before hiring

What you need the floodlights for and how big an area you need to illuminate are probably the biggest things you need to consider before hiring. Most floodlights apart from halogen ones are very energy-efficient, and the poor energy efficiency of halogen floodlights can be offset to some extent by a PIR motion sensor.

For more insight, take a look at our range of site lighting for hire, which includes a selection of floodlights suitable for a variety of purposes. Our hire prices are in most cases 69% cheaper than our competitors, and we offer free delivery nationwide for hire periods of 3 weeks or more.

If you have any questions about flood lighting hire, our experienced team is always on hand to answer them. Call us on 0330 134 6224 or email us at You can also request a call back.

FAQs about flood lighting hire

1. What does flood lighting mean?

Flood lighting is high-intensity light which spreads evenly across large areas and doesn’t create shadows. It “floods” an area with light. The opposite is a spotlight, which concentrates light on a narrow area rather than spreading it everywhere.

2. What are floodlights used for?

Flood lighting is used domestically and commercially. It may be used for illuminating industrial areas, building sites, car parks, stadiums, tennis courts and warehouses. It may also be used for security purposes and precision work in dark indoor areas. Its domestic uses range from lighting porches and gardens to highlighting important objects and decor.

3. What are the different types of floodlights?

The mains ones are halogen, LED, CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamps), metal halide and SON (high-pressure sodium lamps).

4. What is the most energy-efficient floodlight?

SON floodlights are the most energy-efficient floodlights you can get, typically producing 120 lumens per watt. However, colour rendering is poor, which means they are more practical than aesthetic. Halogen floodlights are better in this sense, but are less energy-efficient.

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