5 Different Types of Flood Lights Explained

An outdoor flood light on a wooden wall.

Flood lights can provide brighter light to a larger area. Homeowners looking to add security to their yards and homes often choose these lights as a simple and inexpensive way to gain needed security. Check out the information below to learn more about the various types of these flood lights, their uses, their efficiency, and their cost.

Public and Commercial Use

In some residential areas, flood lights are used to light neighborhoods where there are no active security systems but where residents feel more secure with better lighting. Although these lights are used in residential areas, they are also used frequently to illuminate public places such as parking lots, garages, streets, playgrounds, auditoriums, assembly halls, and athletic fields. In addition, they are used in large commercial indoor areas such as warehouses and truck-loading ramps.

Flood Light Types

In general, there are five types of flood lights commonly used for lighting larger areas. These five types include sodium vapor, halogen, high-intensity discharge, incandescent, and fluorescent.

1. Sodium Vapor

Technology: Sodium vapor is used in low-pressure sodium lights. This vapor glows when exposed to an electric current.

Advantages: These lights are the most energy-efficient and lowest in maintenance costs of the five flood light types mentioned here.

When comparing light color, you'll find that the color produced by sodium vapor lights is yellowish. Some people consider the color unnatural. This technology also takes longer to produce light after you turn the fixture on. Sodium vapor lights typically do not work effectively in security systems where an alarm signal activates the flood lights.

2. Halogen

Outdoor flood lights.

Technology: In these lights, electricity activates the halogen gas and tungsten in the quartz halogen bulbs.

Some people consider the white light to be superior.

Halogen lights have a tendency to heat up more than their rivals and are less efficient than sodium or high-intensity discharge lights.

3. High-Intensity Discharge

Technology: These lights employ an internal ballast inside the bulb. An electric arc, when created, glows and produces light which radiates out from the bulb.

They offer the longest life and highest efficiency rating. They are rated by Energy Savers as being 75 percent to 90 percent more efficient than incandescent flood lights.

If warm-up time is an important factor to you, you should take into account that after being turned on, high-intensity discharge lights take longer to produce full lighting. For this reason, they usually will not work adequately with motion detectors.

4. Incandescent

Technology: An element inside the bulb is placed in a vacuum and heated by an electric current.

The initial cost of incandescent flood lights is lower.

They have a shorter life.

5. Fluorescent

Technology: Some of these lights contain mercury gas and a phosphorescent coating on the inside surface of the bulb. When an electric current passes through this coating, the bulb begins to glow.

Fluorescent flood lights last longer than incandescent bulbs.

These lights come with a higher initial cost.