Choose the Correct Porch Light: Size, Height, Brightness!



Choosing the Correct Porch Light

Modern porch light fixtures are not all the same. The type of fixture you choose for your porch can have a big impact on how it looks and feels.

Choosing the correct porch light can be a daunting task. There are hundreds of different styles and types available, with many features that may or may not be necessary for your home.

In this article, we will discuss what to look for when choosing a porch light and porch light size so you can find the one that is right for you!

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How Do You Choose A Porch Light?

The porch light is one of the most important steps in exterior lighting. It is used to enhance security and create a visual treat for your guests and family.

A good porch light should provide you with all the necessary features such as long-lasting illumination, ease of installation, and security.

It must also create a mood that matches your home’s interior décor. You can choose between modern or traditional porch lights depending on their size, shape, style, and color.

Read More: Should You Leave A Porch Light On Or Off? [WHY]

The most common types are:

Type Of Porch Light Fixtures

Type Of Porch Light Fixtures

A porch light is a common feature in most American homes today. It provides safety when you enter and leave your home at night, and it brings extra security to the area surrounding your house.

There are several kinds of porch lights that provide various levels of brightness and visibility, which means that you have a variety of options from which to choose.

Choosing the correct style for your porch might take some time, but it’s worth the effort to ensure proper lighting for safety reasons.

Read More: [9 Crazy] Ways to Hang Outdoor Patio Lights Without Nails

Incandescent Porch Lights

One of the most common forms of outdoor porch lighting is an incandescent porch light built into or mounted on a door or wall near an entranceway.

The sheer number of styles available makes this form valuable for anyone looking for a wide selection of options for their space.

Style Choices: The most common styles for this type of porch light are the standard dome mounted on a wall or screen-style that sits on the ground or in another location when necessary.

Screw-in-type bulbs are usually used with these lights, but an adaptor can be purchased to allow standard incandescent bulbs to fit into them as well.

Brightness: Porch lights like these range in brightness depending upon which style is chosen and the wattage of the bulb installed.

For example, there are floodlight versions available; they provide 360 degree visibility, making it possible to see surrounding objects more clearly.

However, keep in mind that floodlights can be intrusive to those near the house as well as to the neighbors.

Another factor that will determine how much light is being emitted from a porch light of this style is distance.

The further away an object is from a porch light, the less intense the brightness will be upon it.

For example, if you live in a subdivision and have a neighbor’s house directly adjacent to your own, a standard outdoor light will not provide them with enough visibility.

It might even cause some light to bleed over into their yard or interfere with their television reception.

porch light size

Instead, they would need either a motion-activated floodlight or one that automatically turns on when it senses activity nearby, such as an approaching car or individual, which can increase its price point significantly.

Side-Mounted Porch Lights

This type of porch light is similar to the standard mounted on a flat surface, but it features a design that allows it to be more easily installed as well as serviced.

The base can be mounted beneath an eave or other low spot on the house where the wiring connections are not visible from above and where they cannot be reached by those near an entrance.

This makes these lights perfect for those who have had issues with porch lights before and prefer the ease of service and installation.

Style choice: Side-mounted porch lights come in many styles, including:

Standard: This style looks like a traditional dome light, small and round with a porcelain base and glass cover.

Art Deco: This style features a round glass cover with a vintage look.

Rustic: This light has a more industrial appearance and is often chosen for its ability to complement the architecture of certain homes.

Brightness: These lights generally emit twice as much light as their standard counterparts due to the fact that they are angled slightly downward, which emits more light onto the porch itself rather than into the sky or area surrounding it.

Motion-Activated Porch Lights

The easy installation of this type of porch light makes them perfect if you’re planning on doing some do-it-yourself projects in your home since there is no need to hire an electrician in order to get one properly wired up. You Can Find Great Ones Here

Also, most of them are designed to be mounted on an exterior wall, which makes it possible for you to create a safe path from the street up to your front door without having to disturb your landscaping or yard.

Style choices: There are two significant styles of motion-activated porch lights available.

The first is similar in design to standard outdoor lighting and functions by illuminating the surrounding area when it senses movement within its range of detection.

These come with powerful lights that can work well for security purposes but may not provide enough light if there is no street lamp nearby or if their range has been limited due to trees or other obstructions in the area.

The second style for this type of porch light uses infrared technology, which is less common but allows it to emit less light while still providing adequate illumination.

These lights are perfect for those who do not want the bright lights that other models emit but still desire safety and security due to their ability to pick up movement in all directions at once.

Light color: Motion-activated porch lights come with either traditional white bulbs or infrared technology, which emits a dull red glow when activated by motion.

If you have another type of outdoor lighting installed on your property, such as floodlights or street lamps, you can choose a motion-sensing porch light that will complement them instead of competing with them.

Additionally, if you live near any businesses with large parking lots or yards that employ motion sensors designed for outdoor lighting, this type of light may be able to pick up their signal, which can make it more likely for your porch light to activate when you walk near the entrance.

porch light size

Type Of Porch Bulps

How Do You Choose A Porch Light

So you’re picking out a porch light. You’ve seen some on your neighbor’s porches, but not sure what to pick out?

Never fear! Here are the most common types of porch lights and how to install them.

The Edison Bulb Porch Light

This style of light is one of the most versatile styles available.  This is because you can use either standard sockets or low-voltage lamp holders.

They usually come in bronze, black, white, brown, satin nickel, rustic bronze, candelabra (smaller than standard), and even pink finishes.     

Candelabra base using S14 bulbs which are great for landscaping lights as well!

The average wattage is usually around 60 watts.

Another great thing about these lights is that they are available in both post and wall mount styles.

This allows you to choose the option that works best for your home or place of business. The typical lifespan of an Edison bulb porch light is 50,000 hours and the bulbs themselves cost anywhere from $5-$25 depending on wattage and style of light chosen.

Edison Bulb Porch Light Installation:

When choosing a porch light, always remember to calculate how much wattage your space needs.

You can use this calculation: (square footage of area x 1000) / 120 = total wattage needed. Most typical spaces will fall in the range of 35-90 watts total.

The Incandescent Porch Light

The incandescent porch light is another common style that has been around for a long time.

These lights give your porch a warm, inviting look and are available in almost every color imaginable.

These lights also come in two different styles: standard or G40 globe bulbs.

Standard incandescents usually only use 60 watts whereas G40 globes can use anywhere from 15-25 watts depending on the size chosen. The average lifespan for this type of bulb is 1,000 hours.

Incandescent Porch Light Installation:

When choosing an incandescent porch light for installation, always be sure to use the proper bulb type.

If you are unsure what you have, simply unscrew your existing light and look at the base of the bulb. If it says “medium base” or has three prongs that go into a fixture then it is incandescent.

Remember to power off any breakers before installing these lights!

To install the standard style, place them on your porch post about 1-3 feet apart depending on preference, but make sure they don’t point at each other horizontally or they will create a shadow too close to your home.

Once installed turn your power back on and enjoy!

The LED Porch Light

LED porch lights are the most efficient of all three styles because they use little to no energy at all.

These are also available in almost any color imaginable.  Now you can have your choice of lighting for safety, style, or both!

This type of light works well for a post or wall mount installation.

A great example of a motion-activated LED porch light

This one is quite versatile as its wattage usually ranges anywhere from 5-20 watts depending on the style chosen.

The average lifespan for this type of porch light is around 50,000 hours! Almost every LED bulb will fit any existing standard incandescent fixture so don’t be afraid to upgrade your old porch lights!

LED Porch Light Installation:

When choosing an LED porch light for installation, always be sure to double-check you are purchasing the proper bulb type.

If you are unsure what you have, simply unscrew your existing light and look at the base of the bulb. If it says “medium base” or has three prongs that go into a fixture then it is incandescent.

Remember to power off any breakers before installing these lights! If replacing an existing standard fixture with this style use the same wattage as your current light but if possible it is best to reduce wattage for greater efficiency.

To install, screw them onto your porch post about 1-3 feet apart depending on preference.  If you are installing these lights on a wall make sure the sensor points away from the wall towards an area where people often walk or enter your property.

Work great for front door entries! Once installed, turn your power back on and enjoy!

Outdoor Wall Sconces

These types of porch lights are perfect for a porch or decks that need safety lighting but also want to give off an elegant look.

Available in almost any style imaginable this is one of the most versatile styles because it can be used as both safety lighting and stylish decor.

“Tea light” style sconce with LED bulbs

The average lifespan for this type of porch light bulb is 2,000 hours !  This option costs more than either incandescent or LED styles but it looks much classier.

The wattage for this type of porch light usually ranges anywhere from 20-70 watts depending on style chosen.

Tips for Installing Your Porch Light

 Keep in mind how important safety is when choosing a porch light.  It’s best to keep them between 4-6 feet above ground level so as not to cause injury if someone bumps into one.

It’s also important that each bulb emits enough lumens or candlepower to fully illuminate any dark areas near your home which may cause people to trip over anything from toys, potted plants, chairs, or other obstructions.  

It’s also good practice to keep the porch lights on during the night for safety reasons, but leaving them on all night uses unnecessary electricity and wastes LED bulb life due to overheating.

LED exterior lighting can be a low voltage which means that instead of using traditional wiring you may have the option of using a solar panel or battery powered.

These are best suited for front porch use as they are meant only for safety, not style. They are much less expensive than standard LED bulbs but do not last nearly as long so it is recommended to change out every 1-2 years depending on use.

How Big Should A Porch Light Be?

For a standard door that is 6 to 7 feet tall, the typical front porch lights should be about 8 inches wide. For bigger doors that are 8 feet or taller, the usual porch light should be closer to 11 inches wide.

One of the main things to consider when choosing a porch light is its size. Porch lights come in many different sizes, typically ranging from small fixtures that are only around 5 inches tall to large ones that are over two feet high.

The size you choose will depend on your needs and preferences. If you have a larger home with a long driveway or longer walkway, then it may be necessary to use an energy-efficient outdoor light fixture with CFLs or LED bulbs for maximum brightness.

However, if the walkway does not need much lighting because it leads directly into your house or there are other sources of light nearby, then a smaller fixture might do the trick instead.

With this in mind, it is important to consider the size of your walkway when purchasing a porch light.

Which Light Is Best For a Porch?

The best porch light bulb is the one that meets your needs. This means picking one that can provide enough light, requires little power, lasts for a long time, and makes you feel safe at night.

If you want a bright porch light that will require lots of electricity to run, then a halogen or incandescent light might be right for you.

If you’re looking for a more environmentally-friendly option with low energy costs, an LED bulb may be a better choice.

LEDs are very popular on porches because they usually last much longer than other bulbs and continuously draw less power from your home’s electrical system as they age.

Another thing to consider is how the porch light will make you feel when outside at night. If it makes you feel less secure, you may want a brighter bulb. If it makes you feel safe, then a low-wattage model will be fine.

Choosing the right porch light is important to your home’s curb appeal and security. Keep in mind your needs when making this decision for your property.

How Big Should A Hanging Porch Light Be?

This is the standard size for a hanging porch light should be between 7″ and 9″, but you can use one as large as 10 inches.

The larger the fixture, however, the more it will influence what’s displayed outside your house.

Some people might not want that much visibility from their neighbors’ porches or street traffic. And if you have a larger front door with sidelights on either side of the entry, anything smaller than about 10 inches may be too small to do justice to your entryway.

How Bright Should A Porch Light Be?

A typical 40-watt bulb (which is more than enough for a porch light) has about 400 lumens.

Another way to measure bulbs is by wattage. When comparing it to lumens, if you subtract a zero from the lumens measurement, you can get pretty close.

A normal bulb rated at 70 watts, for example, will be comparable to an LED bulb rated at 700 lumens.

So, based on the approximations in lumens presented above, subtract a zero to get the corresponding wattage.

How High Should A Porch Light Be?

The height of a porch light is going to be based on the height of your ceilings. Porch lights are commonly hung between 9 and 18 feet above the ground.  

If you have shorter ceilings, you may opt for a pendant-style light instead to avoid having too high of a fixture for this area.

You also want to consider the size of your front door as it relates to the scale of the porch light as well as if there will be any obstruction from trees or shrubs in your yard.

In cases where there is an obstruction, attach your porch light at least 8′ away from that element so that it will not be blocked by anything that could obstruct its illumination at night time.

Porch Light Color Meaning

Porch Light ColorMeaning
GreenVeterans Day
RedAmerican Heart Month Awareness
BlueWorld Autism Awareness
PinkRemembering Lost Ones
PurpleDomestic Violence Awareness
YellowDrug House
Blinking Porch LightFamily in Distress


If you are looking for a porch light, there are many factors to consider. The first is the lighting needs of your house or property.

You should also take into consideration how much time you spend outside and if you want glare-free lights that don’t distract drivers on the street.

Finally, it may be worth considering what type of bulbs are best for your home environment (LEDs vs CFLs). We hope this article has helped provide clarity about some of these considerations so that you can find the right porch light without too much hassle!

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