Floodlight vs Spotlight: What’s the Difference?

One man’s floodlight is another man’s spotlight. Frankly, it can be a bit confusing if you’re not aware of the qualifications behind both since many manufacturers have different specifications for the two. Industry regulations when it comes to these products are not universal, and consumers often find they’ve made the wrong purchase only after it’s too late. But that’s inconsequential, as you know what you’re looking for, you need to know which type you need.

Spotlight vs Floodlight


So how can you ensure your necessities are best met?


Before we go any further, it’s wise to consider what you’re trying to illuminate. This will be essential when making your decision. Would you like to display something on your property or do you plan to add lights for security? Are you trying to see further ahead while driving or are you concerned with your peripherals on the road?

Though both are lights, they each have their special features. Floodlights provide a broad stream of illumination and spotlights are more focused. If you’re trying to highlight a particular piece in your home or something far ahead on the road, spotlights are your safest bet. But if you’d prefer to brighten up a wide area as opposed to something in the distance, floodlights are the way to go.

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With an average illumination ranging between 45 to 120 degrees in diameter, floodlights are the preferred method for brightening a large area. Excellent for the outdoors, floodlights take a vast expanse out of darkness allowing greater perception to facilitate security. They also create a more welcoming environment that caters to the sense of sight so you and your loved ones can enjoy your property more as well as provide extra safety to ease the mind.

But make sure your floodlight has a beam, wide enough to cover the area you’re seeking to make more visible. Since, as stated above, some companies sell floodlights that better fit the spotlight paradigm. There’s a sure-fire method in the form of a mathematical formula that can be employed to assure you get what you want, but we’ll discuss that further down in the article. For now, consider how much space you’d like to light up before you get into any arithmetic as it may not even be required.

Floodlight vs Spotlight



Casting a narrow beam roughly 25 degrees wide, spotlights are meant to concentrate a bulb’s wattage on a specific location to maximize visibility on the focal point. They’re an excellent way of showcasing artwork or landscaping as well as spotting something in the far distance.

Spotlights are also the best way to see the route ahead when traveling in a vehicle at dusk. Whether off-roading in the wilderness or boating at night, they are the go-to solution for safely lighting the path ahead to avoid hazards.


Typically, floodlights and spotlights have the same wattage but produce different results, so using them in combination is common. For example, most cars have headlights as well as high beams that can be used whenever necessary.

When applied accurately to any situation, this option optimizes the abilities of both.

Spotlight vs Floodlight


The Formula

This may not be necessary as trial and error work close to the same, but for the perfectionist, experts have developed a formula to help:

Beam Angle x Distance from the light source in feet x 0.018 = Width of the beam in feet

For example, a 120-degree floodlight 10 feet away from the zone of focus gets plugged into the equation.

120 degrees x 10 feet x 0.018 = 21.6 feet wide

Now take a spotlight with 25 degrees of light 20 feet away from your area of attention.

25 degrees x 20 feet x 0.018 = 9 feet wide

Floodlights and spotlights may differ depending on the model or the maker, but they all have the details of their beam degree on their packaging to allow consumers to plan out their spread.

Floodlight vs Spotlight What's the Difference


This is a fairly accurate way of estimating how your lights will work. However, keep in mind quite often the lights shine on things at varying distances so this method can only benefit you so much. Regardless, this helps provide a rough idea of what to expect, but you’ll never really know how things look until you try them.

Moment of Truth…

Don’t let the search for perfect lighting overwhelm you. Just keep in mind that whatever you need, there’s a floodlight, spotlight, or blend of the two that will do exactly what you expect.

Spotlight vs Floodlight What's the Difference


Flood Light | Recommended

Last update on 2024-05-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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