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You can rely on the sun during the daylight hours, but with the right light bulbs, you can extend your enjoyment of the yard or garden into the night. Whether you are looking for a bulb to light up the patio for outdoor dining or entertaining, a floodlight to draw attention to a spectacular tree or shrub, or basic outdoor lighting so you can safely find your way to and through your front door, we've found the right option for you.
Here, the best outdoor light bulbs on the market.
Best Overall: Cree BR30 Soft White Dimmable LED Flood Bulb
Powerful, long-lasting, and energy-efficient, the Cree BR30 LED outshines all other competition. This 65-watt bulb produces 680 lumens of gorgeous, soft-white light—strong enough for outdoor use and gentle enough for indoor. The BR30 also helps save on the electric bill, as it uses 87 percent less energy than standard bulbs. Cree designed the item to last almost 23 years (when measured on a 3-hour per day basis), and they even offer a 10-year satisfaction guarantee with your purchase. The light bulb is dimmable, shatter-proof, and affordably priced. And its wide-beamed floodlights make it ideal for both recessed cans and track lighting fixtures.
“I used the bulb in an overhead socket in my detached garage while working on a new desk for my home office. When evaluating if there were variations in my final coats of finish on the desk, I was pleased to have bright, even light to check my work.”—Justin Park, Product
Best Dusk-to-Dawn: Philips A19 Dusk-to-Dawn Frosted Light Bulb
Dusk-to-dawn light bulbs like this one come equipped with sensors that turn the light on when the sun goes down, then turn it off once daylight comes. That makes this a great choice for use near the front door, side entrance, or rear entry of your home.
While this Energy Star certified bulb isn’t dimmable, it does emit a pleasing soft white light (equal to a 60 Watt incandescent). When it comes to energy use, it uses only 8 watts of power, so you can expect to save up to $143 over its 25,000-hour lifetime. Folks who own Phillips Hue System may be disappointed to learn that this bulb is not compatible.
Best 360 Degree: SkyGenius Daylight LED Corn Light Bulb (200-Watt Equivalent)
This outdoor LED bulb, which resembles an ear of corn, provides 360 degrees of stable lighting (no more dead corners!) thanks to rows of tiny lights. It's available in a range of lumens, but our favorite is the 2,500-lumen bulb. Its brightness is equal to a 200-watt incandescent bulb, and the good news is it consumes only 1/9 of the energy.
Don't let its newfangledness confuse you because it's designed to fit any standard (E26) light socket, but note that the bulb itself is larger than a standard A19 bulb, so it might not fit in a tight fixture. Still it's an excellent choice for outdoor post fixtures where 360 degrees of bright light will illuminate both walkways and yards at night. So that you know, it doesn't dim.
The estimated yearly cost to operate this bulb is around $3. You can expect it to last up to 10 years based on three hours of operation per day.
Best Smart Bulb: TP-LINK Kasa Smart Light Bulb (60-Watt Equivalent)
Give your porch light a high-tech upgrade with this smart bulb by TP-Link that you can control through a personal device.
The dimmable light bulb offers the best bang for your buck. Each bulb is 60-watt equivalent. Individual bulbs are also available with your choice of features including energy monitoring, multi-color settings, and tunable white. Whichever one you choose, all can be controlled using a free app on your smartphone or using your voice via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. For your convenience, you can even set lighting schedules for this bulb, including timers and countdowns.
Before buying, here are two essential things to know: First, don't use smart bulbs like this one with your existing dimmer switches. Also, the bulb works best outdoors in areas with an overhead cover in temperatures ranging between -4 degrees to 104 degrees.
Best Bug-Repelling: TCP LED Yellow Bug Light Bulbs (40-Watt Equivalent)
You can replace your old 40-watt incandescent bulbs with this LED one by TCP that only uses 5 watts of energy. Unlike sources of white light, the bulb emits a pretty yellow glow that won’t attract pesky insects.
These bug light bulbs will stand the test of time, as their life span is nearly 23 years (based on three hours of daily use). You won't have to worry about fit either—this bulb will fit any of your existing sockets because it uses a standard E26 screw base. Another important note: this bulb works best outdoors in an area that's protected from the weather, such as on a covered porch or patio.
Best Flood Light Bulb: Sunco Lighting BR30 LED Dimmable Flood Bulb (65-Watt Equivalent)
Brighten up your outdoor space with this Energy Star-listed LED flood light bulb by Sunco. It emits 850 Lumens (equal to a 65-watt incandescent bulb), and it’s available in three different color temperatures: Soft white (2700k), cool white (4000k), and daylight (5000).
The bulb, which you can dim, is a top performer that can reduce energy use compared to a halogen bulb by 90 percent. Its average life is 25,000 hours.
Best Edison Bulb: Helloify G25 LED Dimmable Edison Bulb (60-Watt Equivalent)
Typically, we want light bulbs to be discreet. To blend in and go unnoticed. Not these Helloify Edison globe-shaped bulbs, however. Reminiscent of a bygone era, these light bulbs make a fashion statement whether on or off. The antique filament inside provides a warm, romantic glow, perfect for parties, wedding receptions, or simply stringing up in the backyard.
These dimmable G25 globe-shaped Edison bulbs put out 500 lumens of soft white light. They are perfect for anywhere inside your home where you'd like a little splash of style, or for use outdoors in a protected light fixture, such as on the patio.
Best Weatherproof: Feit Electric PAR38 Dimmable LED Light Bulb (90-Watt Equivalent)
Weatherproof, dimmable, and best of all mercury-free this bulb is the perfect replacement for your 90-watt incandescent. The spot light uses only 15 watts, roughly 75-percent less than an old standard bulb and you can pop it into either a recessed fixture or security fixture with a standard (E26) socket. You can expect our pick to last up to 25,000 hours.
The Cree BR30 LED wins our top spot thanks to its long life, energy efficient performance, and powerful display of soft-white light. It’s perfect for use on your patio, deck, or anywhere else you enjoy outdoor entertaining. But if you are looking for a smart bulb that you can control remotely or with your voice-activated electronic personal assistant, the TP-Link Kasa Smart Light Bulb (view at Amazon) is the one to choose. Set it on a schedule to illuminate your front entry before you get home, or activate it when entertaining outdoors; it’s very versatile.
What to Look for in an Outdoor Light Bulb
Deciding how bright you'd like an outdoor light to be will make a big difference in the bulb you choose. The brightness of an LED bulb is measured in lumens, with 800 lumens being equivalent to a 60-watt bulb. If you want mood lighting, opt for a softer light bulb with less lumens. But if you’re looking to light up the night after the sun goes down, a higher-powered bulb will be a better fit.
Motion and Security Features
Some outdoor bulbs are great for security purposes, thanks to built-in motion sensors that will turn the light on if an object passes by. Others will illuminate the night with 360-degree light distribution, which makes it easier to see shadowy corners or the edge of your yard. There are also models that can be programmed to turn on automatically at dusk, or you can use an app to turn them on and off from your smartphone. These options for automation can give you more peace of mind and increase the comfort and security of your yard.
If you’re looking for an outdoor light bulb, you may need to give some thought as to what type of weather the bulb will be exposed to. While some bulbs are considered to be weatherproof and can stand up to rain and snow, others need to be protected from the elements. Many floodlight-style bulbs are more tolerant of weather conditions, while a lot of residential-style bulbs will need to be under a porch or canopy for the best results.
Are lumens the same as watts?
Many people are used to thinking of a light bulb’s output in terms of watts, as that was the standard with incandescent bulbs. However, today’s LED bulbs are referenced in lumens, not in watts, leading to some confusion.
Lumens are an actual measurement of brightness, while watts tell you how much energy the bulb consumes as it burns. Because LEDs are so much more energy-efficient than incandescents, it’s far more useful to label them in terms of their output, rather than their energy usage.
As a guideline for choosing bulbs, here’s how the two compare:
- 40W = 450 lumens
- 60W = 800 lumens
- 75W = 1100 lumens
- 100W = 1600 lumens
- 150W = 2600 lumens
How many lumens is best for an outdoor bulb?
As with indoor lighting, you might want a range of light intensities for your outdoor bulbs, depending on their intended use. While the final answer depends greatly on your specific outdoor area, the following guidelines can help with determining the best light intensity for outdoor bulbs.
- Steps and walkways: 100 to 200 lumens
- Security lights: 700 lumens
- Hardscape lights, such as outdoor patio lighting: 50 to 200 lumens, depending on the area being lit
- Landscape lights: 50 to 300 lumens, depending on the area or object being lit
- Motion sensor lights: 700 lumens
- Floodlights: 700 to 1300 lumens, depending on the area or object being lit
- Pool lights: 200 to 400 lumens
Are LED bulbs good for outdoor lighting?
As the most common type of bulb sold today, you’ll find LED bulbs in a wide selection of sizes, shapes, outputs, and colors. Thanks to their long life and energy-efficiency, you won’t have to change burned out bulbs nearly as often as you did with old-school incandescents, and even leaving the porch light on all night long won’t excessively run up your electric bill. That makes LED bulbs a great choice for all types of outdoor use, including safety lights, patio or landscaping lights, pool lighting, and even string lights or other fanciful mood lighting.