How Bright Should Exterior Garage Lights Be? (Think Security!) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to . The website is also an affiliate of a few other brands.

How Bright Should Exterior Garage Lights Be?

Choosing exterior lights for your garage is not as easy as it sounds. There are several factors, such as style, size, placement, color temperature, etc. that you will need to consider. You also need to know how bright exterior garage lights should be?

The brightness of exterior garage lights must find the right balance between safety & security on one hand, and ambiance & curb appeal on the other.

Garage lights are a part of the complete outdoor lighting plan for your home. Make sure that they are in harmony with other parts, such as porch lights, driveway lights, landscape lights etc.

Moreover, you must be mindful of your neighborhood and surrounding environment too. Your exterior garage lights should not be so bright that they become a nuisance for your neighbors or result in light pollution.

How Bright Should Exterior Garage Lights Be?

How Many Lumens Do I Need for Outdoor Garage Lighting?

The lumens that you need for outdoor garage lighting will depend on the number of garage doors and the light placement. You can use the chart below as a guideline to get you started, but feel free to improvise and personalize.

Lumens Per
Light Bulb
Total Lumens
One Car
Single Door
1 centered above the door800 lm800 lm
One Car
Single Door
1 on each side of the door450 lm X 2900 lm
Two Car
Single Door
2 above the door, evenly spaced800 lm X 21600 lm
Two Car
Single Door
1 on each side of the door +
1 centered above the door
550 im X 31650 lm
Two Car
Two Doors
2 above the door, evenly spaced800 lm X 21600 lm
Two Car
Two Doors
1 on each side of the door +
1 in between the doors at the same level
550 im X 31350 lm

NOTE: Total lumens requirement is recommended to ensure an average brightness of at least 20 lumens per sq. ft.  for the first 4 feet adjacent to the garage door.

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How Many Watts for Outdoor Garage Lights?

When it comes to light bulbs, you need to to be aware of the following specifications (always listed on the packaging / product literature)

  • Watt is a measure of energy consumption
  • Lumen is a measure of the light output
  • Color Temperature is an indication of the hue of the white light

Sometimes Watts is equated to Lumens. This is only partially true. A higher watt light bulb has higher lumen, but only for the same type of bulb. There are four different types of light bulbs to choose from:

  1. Incandescent Light Source (ILS)
  2. Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL)
  3. Light-Emitting Diode (LED)
  4. Halogen Light Bulbs

The Lumen to Watt ratio is very different for each type. For best lights for your garage exterior, determine the lumen requirement for each one of the exterior garage lights. The wattage of the lightbulbs depends on the type of light bulb you chose to install.

The infographic below gives you an idea.

Lumen - Watt

Why Use LED Lights Outdoors?

LED light bulbs have become extremely popular in recent years because they give the highest lumen to watt ratio. In essence, you are getting more light and spending less money.

LED light bulbs have several additional benefits too:

  • Long lifespan (can last as long as 50,000 hours). That is a whopping 17 years if they are on for 8 hours a day, every day.
  • LED bulbs with adjustable CCT allow you to switch from cool white to warm white
  • Models with built-in dusk to dawn features readily available 
  • Can work with motion sensor technology 

LED light bulbs are expensive but pay for themselves in savings in the long run.

Bottom Line

In this post I have recommended some guidelines that can help you decide how bright the exterior garage lights should be. However, the actual decision must be taken by you keeping in mind the following factors:

  • Safety & Security Requirements
  • Ambience & Curb Appeal
  • Harmony with Porch, Driveway & Landscape Lights
  • Initial Installation Cost
  • Energy Cost
  • Average Lifespan of the light bulb
  • Additional Features such as built in dusk to dawn, compatibility with motion sensor technology, etc.

Thank you very much for reading the post. I do hope you found it informative and useful.

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