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Do Outdoor Lights Use A Lot Of Electricity?


Outdoor lighting solutions have always been integral for residential and commercial spaces alike. Whether it’s enhancing the visual appeal of a garden, illuminating a driveway for safety, or ensuring after-dark functionality of public spaces, the importance of outdoor lighting is undeniable. However, as our society grows more environmentally conscious, a crucial question arises: “How much electricity does outdoor lighting really use?” This comprehensive guide aims to elucidate the electricity consumption intricacies associated with outdoor lighting, while suggesting actionable, energy-efficient strategies to light up your outdoor spaces.

Factors that Influence Electricity Consumption

Outdoor lighting’s electricity consumption is not a simple, linear equation. It involves a myriad of factors that interact and contribute towards the total energy use. Let’s delve into these factors:

  1. Outdoor Lighting Types: Outdoor lighting encompasses a diverse array of lights, each designed for a specific purpose. Security-centric floodlights, decorative garden lamps, pathway lights, or festive string lights – the list is extensive. Each of these types has different power requirements, contributing to the overall energy use differently.
  2. Number of Lighting Fixtures: It might seem obvious that the more the number of lights, the higher the energy consumption. However, the relationship isn’t as straightforward. The type of bulb used in the fixtures, their wattage, and duration of operation also play a crucial role in determining the total electricity consumed.
  3. Operation Duration: The length of time for which the outdoor lights stay on directly affects their overall electricity consumption. But with innovative developments in lighting technology, there are new ways to control the operation duration effectively.
  4. Type of Bulbs: The type of bulb used is a pivotal factor in determining the electricity consumption. From incandescent and CFLs to LEDs and solar-powered lights, the market is brimming with options. Comprehending their energy profiles can be instrumental in optimizing your outdoor lighting.

pathway lightingConsumption and Energy Efficiency: The LED and Solar Revolution

Incandescent bulbs, the traditional choice for outdoor lighting, are cherished for their warm, cozy glow. But they fall short in energy efficiency. An incandescent bulb typically consumes around 60 watts of power and has a lifespan of only 1,200 hours. In contrast, LED lights consume just about 10 watts for the same luminosity and boast an impressive lifespan of 50,000 hours. This implies that LEDs use 83% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, thereby significantly reducing overall energy consumption.

Solar lights, another breakthrough in outdoor lighting technology, use sunlight to power themselves. They absorb sunlight throughout the day using photovoltaic cells and store this energy in batteries, which is used for illumination at night. On a day with ample sunlight, solar lights can gather enough energy to power up to 10 hours of illumination, without requiring any grid electricity. This results in significant energy savings and a smaller carbon footprint.

Actual Lighting Costs

The average home’s exterior lighting consumption and cost can vary widely due to numerous factors, including the number of light fixtures, type of bulbs used, and the duration of usage. However, let’s consider a common scenario as an example.

Assume a household uses five outdoor lights, with each light being an incandescent bulb of 60 watts. Let’s also assume these lights are operated for five hours each night.

  1. The total wattage for the five lights is 5 lights * 60 watts/light = 300 watts.
  2. Convert this to kilowatts (since electricity is usually billed in kilowatt-hours): 300 watts = 0.3 kilowatts.
  3. To find the energy consumed each night, multiply the total kilowatts by the number of hours of operation: 0.3 kW * 5 hours = 1.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh).
  4. Over a month (30 days), this would equate to: 1.5 kWh/day * 30 days = 45 kWh/month.

The cost of this consumption depends on the local electricity rate. As of my knowledge cut-off in 2021, the average cost of electricity in the United States was around 13 cents per kWh. Using this rate:

  1. The monthly cost of running these outdoor lights would be: 45 kWh/month * $0.13/kWh = $5.85/month.

This is a very simplified example. If a home uses more energy-efficient bulbs such as LEDs, the consumption and cost would be significantly lower. For instance, replacing those five 60-watt incandescent bulbs with 10-watt LED bulbs would reduce the monthly energy usage to 7.5 kWh and the cost to approximately $0.98.

You will need to check with a local electrician or your electricity provider to get the most accurate and up-to-date information relevant to your specific situation. Oregon Outdoor Lighting can also give you a general idea on costs in your area.

Practical Tips for Energy Efficiency

The goal of energy efficiency doesn’t stop at selecting the right type of lighting. Installation of motion sensors or timers that ensure lights are switched on only when necessary can reduce energy use by up to 30%. Furthermore, customizing the brightness levels to cater to the specific needs of different outdoor areas can lead to substantial energy conservation.

backyardThe Future of Outdoor Lighting

The future of outdoor lighting looks bright with innovative technologies poised to redefine the landscape. The next generation of LED lights promises to deliver extended lifespan, reaching up to 100,000 hours while consuming even less power. Cutting-edge developments like organic LEDs (OLEDs) and quantum LEDs (QLEDs) are expected to revolutionize the lighting industry with superior performance.

The advent of smart outdoor lighting also holds promise. Systems that can be controlled remotely via smartphones or home assistants offer unmatched convenience and potential for energy conservation. With features like scheduling, dimming, color customization, and security system integration, these smart systems can reduce energy use by an additional 10-20%.

Simultaneously, sustainability is no longer an afterthought but a primary factor guiding lighting choices. As more homeowners choose sustainable lighting solutions, we can anticipate this trend to continue shaping the future of outdoor lighting. By 2030, it is estimated that 75% of all lighting will be LED-based, contributing to a substantial reduction in energy consumption.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do outdoor lights use a lot of electricity? The electricity consumption of outdoor lights depends on several factors including the type of lighting, duration of operation, and the type of bulbs used. The wide range of outdoor lighting options allows for both high and low electricity consumption solutions.
  2. Are LED lights more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs? Yes, LED lights are considerably more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs. They consume about 83% less energy for the same amount of light and have a significantly longer lifespan.
  3. How can I minimize the electricity usage of my outdoor lights? Transitioning to energy-efficient bulbs like LEDs, using solar lights, installing motion sensor lights, and adopting smart lighting systems are effective strategies to reduce electricity usage of outdoor lights.
  4. Do solar lights consume grid electricity? No, solar lights utilize the energy from the sun, which they convert into electricity. This means they don’t require grid electricity, making them an eco-friendly and cost-effective solution for outdoor lighting.
  5. What are the advantages of smart lighting systems? Smart lighting systems provide several benefits such as remote operation via smartphones or voice-controlled home assistants, programmable operation schedules, adjustable brightness and color, and the potential for integration with security systems. These features contribute to enhanced convenience and energy efficiency.


Unraveling the complexities of electricity consumption in outdoor lighting reveals an intricate interplay of various factors. However, understanding these intricacies can empower homeowners to make strategic choices that enhance energy efficiency. With the advent of LED and solar lights, along with smart technologies, it is easier than ever to reduce energy consumption while maintaining the benefits of outdoor lighting.


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