What is your home outside lighting color?

 The quality of LED lights

Whether you own a home or condo or rent, having inviting outside lighting does these things.

  1. It makes your home safer
  2. It makes it easier to see
  3. It creates either a warm and inviting look, or cold and secure look.

In the past, LED lights were very limited

In the past, LED lights were very limited in the amount of control that was available for brightness and color.

Color in lighting is called the "temperature of light", also known as KELVIN.  When you look at a light bulb, you'll usually see a number like 3200K or 5500K.  That "K" at the end is it's "Kelvin" number.

In the world of lighting, there are traditionally two kinds of lights, and this dates back to the early day of filmmaking.

3000K to 3500K is a warmer color of light, sometimes referred to as  Tungsten or "Soft White", a "Straw" color of light.  Straw as in the color of the dried plant that horses eat.

5000K to 5500K is a colder color of light, sometimes referred to as Day Light. The sky is 5500K. The sun is 5700K.  It is a bluer color of light, that often appears to be a "white" light.

LED lights in the present

In the present and into the future, LED lights, even consumer LED bulbs can accurately simulate and reproduce multiple qualities and colors of the light spectrum. Spin the dial and pick your favorite color.  In that regards, its an exciting age to live in.

However, at least at the moment, for outside lighting, most homes use either a 3000K to 3500K outdoor led light, or a 5000 to 5500K outdoor light for general lighting.

Photo example of the different colors of outdoor home led lights.

In this photo I took, there are four different qualities of light.  Natural Light, LED Solar Light, LED Day Light and LED Tungsten Light.

This photo was taken at a time, we filmmakers call magic hour.  It's a hour that exists between sunset and night.  It shows the blue color of daylight at 5500K very well.

To the lower left of the natural daylight, is an LED Daylight being use on a front porch. This is a 5000K LED Light Blub. It appears whiter than the 5500K Natural light, because the higher the amount of Kelvin in the 5000K range of light temperature, the more blue it becomes.  Notice it has almost a colder look. It feels more like a security light. Even the garage door further back is bright and white.  Good for seeing and security, but it doesn't feel very inviting or warm.
It's not a color of light you imagine yourself wanting to sit under with friends for an evening.

To the right of the LED Daylight is a front house using LED Solar Lights on a front porch.  Notice how they are warmer in color, they look more inviting and decorative, the solar led lights light up the entire front porch and front of the home, but not much else.  Not much light falls onto the grass or side of the driveway next to it and that's a good thing.

Solar lights come if both colors also, if you are going to use them for a front porch, you'll probably need more than one.  The front porch in my photo is using four larger size solar lights that come on at dusk and turn off in the morning.
You won't get the same look if you use smaller garden solar lights, or lower lumen solar lights.  Start off with one or two to see if you like to color and if they're bright enough, then add more if needed.  If you don't like the 3000K warmer color of the Solar Lights in the photo, try 5000K Daylight solar lights which will give you a "whiter" and "bluer" colder color of light.

The front house on the left has a 3000K LED Outdoor Light blub that come on at night and turn off in the morning.  Their light is brighter than the solar LED lights on the house on the right.

In this wider view of my photo on the far left is a street light.  The street light uses a 5000K Large LED industrial bulb.  You can see it's light is powerful enough to brighten the street, trees and driveway near it.

What about Lumens?

Most LED lights will mention Lumens. If you're unfamiliar with this term it can be confusing, how many Lumens is enough?

Basically, Lumens is the volume of light a LED is going to provide, similar to how older non-led lights use watts to tell you how much volume of light the light bulb would provide.  With an old light, you knew that a 25 Watt bulb wasn't going to provide much light and you would normally choose a 65 to 100 Watt bulb for your porch or a room inside your home. The more Watt's of a "Traditional" bulb, the more light it provides.

However, the Lumen scale is still being worked on and while there is a basic scale of light per Lumen, it doesn't guarantee a 1000 Lumen light from one brand will give you the same volume of light as another brand.  Maybe its a quality control issue, maybe its a marketing issue, unfortunately its an issue.

The more Lumens a LED light has, the more light it provides.  So a higher amount of Lumen's is better right?  Not always.  When I go cave exploring, I carry a 2000 Lumen Led Flashlight with him. Caves are dark, they usually have no natural source of light, I want as much light as possible without sacrificing my battery length.  In a cave I need up to 8 hours of light per battery.

Point my 2000 Lumen LED Flashlight at someones face and they're going to be temporarily blinded.  Great if they're attacking or threatening me, not so great if they're someone I care about.

 LED lights can become confusing, because they are still somewhat new, they will tell you for example, "This light is 14 Watts of a 60 Watts light at 800 Lumens".  Like what the heck! Right?

In this example, its telling you, that the LED bulb you are looking at buying, uses 14 Watts of power, puts out the light volume of a traditional non-led 60 Watts light blub, and in LED Bulbs measurement of light volume is approximately 800 Lumens.

Normally, you'll want an LED light between 800 Lumens and 1000 Lumens for your front porch or outside lighting.  That will provide plenty of light.

If you are taking a decorative approach to LED lighting for the outside of your home using solar lights or spotlights, these kinds of lights will usually offer a lower amount of Lumens, because they are either working together with other spread out lights, or for highlighting specific areas.

This GE Dusk to Dawn Outdoor LED light provides 1600 Lumens.
(Equivalent to a traditional non-led 100 Watt bulb)
It only uses 13 Watts per hour, so it's cheap to have this light.

This light would cost around $5 to $7 a year to use. 

It provides a lot of "Soft White" light (around 2500K to 3000K),
making it a good light for those concerned about security, but still having an inviting color of light.

Creative Home Lighting

As I mentioned, modern LED lights can simulate any color.  You can use traditional lighting for the majority of your outdoor lighting, and then use colored LED lights to enhance key areas of your property.

You can make your house an entirely Alien Green color if you want to become known as that weird house on the block.

All of this can change really quickly, tomorrow everyone might be using a different color on every house on the block like a snowcone.

However, for home value and general decorative lighting, its best to stick to the traditional warmer colors of Tungsten aka 3000K to 3500K.  These colors have a very warm and fall look.  They remind people of summers sitting on the porch with friends as well as kids roaming the streets on Halloween, Trick or Treating.

Warmer lights are inviting, colder lights are less inviting.

I personally like Daylight LEDs around my home, because I use them mainly for security and safety.  Approach my home and lights will turn on, whether you are simply walking across the public sidewalk by the street, or coming up to the house.  There isn't a part of my home or property you can approach at night without triggering a light.  However if you come up to my lawn, you'll be greeted with warmer Led Spotlights that appear more inviting.

I use LED Solar lights because my home gets plenty of sunshine in California, it doesn't impact my electric bill, since I have them come on and go off on their own based on motion detection, they will last much longer than those that stay on all night. 

Eventually whoever, I will be adding warmer decorative 3000K solar lights to the front porch similar to my neighbors.  The continuously on lighting makes the entire neighborhood feel and look safer.  So much so, that at least half of the block now has some kind of Dusk to Dawn LED lights.  

When you add outdoor dusk to dawn lights to your apartment porch or home.  You're making your area safer for you and your neighbors, and because LED's use so much less electricity than the fluorescent, halogen and incandescent filament lights of the past, there has never been a more affordable time to have lights on around your home at night.


Just remember these rules about lights.

  1. Lower K is warmer and Higher K is colder.
  2. Lower K is yellow and Higher K is blue.
  3. Lower K is inviting and Higher K is less inviting

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A little about Randy Dreammaker's experience with lighting.  In addition to attending video and film school, I have a two-year certificate in Advanced Cinematography with a specialty in lighting, and also studied under a master gaffer in a Mole Richardson Master Lighting Workshop.  I have worked professionally as a Gaffer and Chief Lighting Technician on multiple video and film projects, everything from music videos, movies and commercials.  I fell in love with lighting as a child when visiting Disneyland and other theme oriented attractions were visitors never see or think about the lighting, because it is so well hidden and thought out.  While friends were looking at the animations on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride for example at Disneyland in California, I was trying to locate and figure out how everything was lit.