The front door is the first impression guests get of your home, particularly at night when all else is in shadow. Mood lighting can create a soothing atmosphere, but go too dim and the entryway won't appear particularly welcoming. Well-lit exteriors also aid in both safety and security for the house. With all of the options available in lighting, choosing the right wattage for outdoor fixtures can seem complicated, but a few quick steps will help you select the perfect level of illumination.
The simple calculation for determining wattage for interior lighting is also a good place to start for exterior illumination. Multiply the length by the width, in feet, of the area in front of your door. Multiply the result by 1.5 to find the recommended wattage. For example, a front stoop measuring 5 feet by 6 feet would require 45 watts (5 x 8 x 1.5 = 45).
High-wattage lights may cover a lot of ground in light, but they can also cause discomforting glare for visitors and disturb the neighbors. If initial calculations require 90 watts to illuminate your front porch, consider mounting two fixtures, each with a 45-watt. The front door will still be properly lit and will provide a more pleasant ambiance for guests. Supplement with low-wattage lighting along the edge of entry sidewalks and driveways. This helps distribute the light farther from the house without increasing the power of the main fixture at the front door.
The wattage number lets you know how bright the light itself will put out. The type of fixture and where it's placed, however, will also affect the level of brightness. For example, To cast light over a larger area, mount fixtures higher on the outer walls.
When planning a large-scale lighting project for your front yard, check local ordinances for any limits on wattage.