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Why Are They Called Flood Lights? (History of Floodlights)

Led floodlight

Floodlights do not get their name from water, as many common misconceptions seem to claim. Instead, they get their name from their ability to “flood” an area with light. Unlike smaller lightbulbs, these lights are incredibly bright and direct light in a large arc. Therefore, they can light up outside areas better than your average lightbulb.

Flood lights are often utilized for home security for this reason. If someone is outside your home, you need to see them. Floodlights help this happen. Many of them are motion-sensing and turn on when movement is detected. Therefore, they can also help alert you to intruders and scare off anyone who isn’t supposed to be there.

light bulb divider

What’s the Difference Between a Floodlight and a Regular Light?

You must use a specialized bulb when changing the light on a floodlight. Standard bulbs direct the light in all directions and do not emit focused beams. Floodlights are brighter and go further because they are directional. The light pushes the beam in a particular direction, while regular lightbulbs direct their light in several directions. Therefore, more light is being directed in one specific area, making the flood light much more effective than your average light.

Floodlights also create light entirely differently from a regular lightbulb. Floodlights typically make light by charging electrons in a gas inside a tube. However, standard lights send electricity into a tungsten filament. Floodlights also last much longer—up to 24,000 hours. Comparatively, regular bulbs usually only last about 2,000 hours. For this reason, you won’t have to change your outdoor floodlight for a very long time.

These lights are also much more efficient. They’re about 90 times more efficient, as there is less “wasted” light. All the light is directed to where it needs to go, allowing the floodlight to perform very well at a lower wattage.

Led floodlight
Image By: Phakorn Kasikij, Shutterstock

What is Another Name for Floodlights?

Floodlights are called many names. However, many of these names are historical and have fallen out of use. Some people call them outdoor lights, but not all exterior lights are floodlights. Sometimes, you may hear these lights called arc lights because they create power. But this is primarily a historical term.

Today, the term “floodlight” is easily the most popular way to refer to these brighter outdoor lights. In most commercial situations, this is the word utilized.

Can You Use LED Bulbs in Floodlights?

They do make LED bulbs for floodlights. However, you have to purchase a light designed to be a floodlight. A regular LED bulb won’t work. LEDs are often more efficient and may last longer, though they are also more expensive. LED floodlights are also harder to find than traditional options, as they are newer. Still, many people may find these lights worth it, especially if you’re concerned about energy efficiency.

With that said, you’ll also hear many complaints about LED floodlights. Some LED floodlights are not very effective in the least, and they may fail sooner rather than later. LED lights can fail for a variety of reasons, including water damage, faulty design, or loose connections. Sometimes, these problems can be fixed, causing the light to work again.

However, many times, you’ll just have to change the bulb.

Image By: anystock, Shutterstock

Who Invented Floodlights?

Floodlights were first invented in 1960—long after the invention of the lightbulb. These lights were first made for filming purposes, as concentrated, bright light was needed. At the time, the Philips electrical company produced tiny tubes with filaments going down the middle. These tubes were designed for small heaters, such as those in bathrooms.

However, a group of inventors got the idea to use these tubes for light purposes instead. They hooked the tubes up to a larger power source than they were originally intended for, and the tubes gave off quite a bit of light. The inventors produced several models and slowly perfected their designs.

The Philips electrical company caught wind of the invention, though, and decided to try it themselves. They quickly patented the design before the original inventors did. The company started with small, compact lights for photography. However, they quickly developed into the floodlights we know today.

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Floodlights are commonly utilized to light up the outside of homes, businesses, and sporting venues. However, they are a relatively new invention. Floodlights are quite a bit different from your average light. They direct light very well, making it appear brighter and allowing the light to travel further. Therefore, they are very effective outside.

However, floodlights are also used for indoor pursuits. Filming is often done with floodlights, which is why the lights were first invented. They’re often purchased for photography, as well.

Featured Image Credit: oleg_picolli, Shutterstock


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