Spotlight VS Floodlight: Let’s Compare and Contrast

Spotlight VS Floodlight: Let’s Compare and Contrast

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Oftentimes, light bulbs and fixtures look the same but when you turn them on, the beam they emit is completely different. This is due to the beam pattern that each bulb/fixture emits. In other words, you’re looking at what is known as the beam angle of the light and how wide it will spread across an area.

This is where the difference between spotlight vs flood light becomes clear. Both types of light fixtures have different beam patterns which, in turn, determines how and where to use each respectively.

Spotlight vs Floodlight Comparisons

Spotlight ​​​Floodlight
Outdoor Garden LED Spotlights with Solar Panel in Grass on a blue sky background
Flood light with blue sky
  • Emits a more concentrated, narrow beam angle
  • Typically, smaller in size
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
  • Emits a wider beam angle
  • Comes in larger sizes
  • Mostly used in outdoor settings


Outdoor Garden LED Spotlights with Solar Panel in Grass on a blue sky background

Starting with the smaller of the two types, the spotlight is used for highlighting small areas in your landscape. These are areas which you want to call attention to for maybe creating an ambience within the room, for task lighting, mood lighting, or simply providing attractive illumination.

Spotlights also work well to eliminate glare since they focus more on specific objects. When placed strategically, they can make a space appear larger and create the illusion of a wider room.

It’s also easy to use bulbs with a spot beam in tracking lights for say, in your kitchen where you want to focus on the sink or the stove. Or, you could do the same in the study, highlighting your desk or other working surfaces.

Beam Angle

Light produced from any bulb gets emitted as a “cone” that spreads as it gets further from the light source. For a spotlight, which is narrower, this angle does not go over 45 degrees. This concentrated beam is a stronger source of light and becomes easier to point and control.

LED spotlight outside building

Style and Design

Spotlights come in various styles and designs to complement every type of outdoor décor. There are classical designs that come in a brushed chrome finish or others that feature wooden, brushed copper or brass detailing for a more traditional or cottage setting. You can even get spotlights in a sleek metallic or enamel finish to complement a more contemporary indoor setting.

Where Can You Use These?

Spotlights can be used in both indoor and outdoor settings. For instance, you will easily find spotlights in gardens, above garage doors, on police and rescue vehicles, on catwalks and inside theatres. Theatres, in fact, is actually where the spotlight took off as these were used to throw light on specific actors on the stage.

Other than in homes, these versatile lights are widely used in museums and art exhibitions for displaying objects. Both residential and commercial settings use spotlights for highlighting landscaping features and creating visual interest outdoors.


Flood light with blue sky

As the name suggests, floodlights “flood” the area with light. Depending on where you plan on using these and how much area you want to illuminate, you can buy a single floodlight or go with a couple more.

For the most part, homes only need a single or maybe two floodlights for either security or aesthetic purposes. Commercial and industrial floodlights, on the other hand, not only provide security but also the assurance that employees can work safely out of daylight hours.

Beam Angle

Floodlights have a wider beam angle that can go up to 120 degrees max. This allows you to see a wider area at a closer distance.

If you are using more than one floodlight, then you need to consider their spacing. For optimal spacing, key factors like height of installation, lumen output, and the lighting ambience will matter. Height-wise, the higher the better, since this prevents tampering when you’re using lights for security reasons. Also, floodlights can get very hot and cause injuries.

Stadium floodlights during evening

For larger areas, it’s considered ideal that the beam angle of different fixtures overlap somewhat. Also known as cross-over lighting, this placement technique helps balance light and cuts back on shadows. (Think nighttime baseball games, or other sports played at night).

Style and Design

Floodlights, like their spotlight counterparts, also come in various varieties. For instance, if you want to install a floodlight at home as a security measure, you can find these with motion sensors and one big, powerful bulb.

But if you want one for a commercial location, you can opt for a model that has multiple bulbs using hundreds of watts in power and brightening up areas larger than just the backyard. Once again, you can get these with motion sensors.

Much bigger versions of commercial floodlights are what are used to light up stadiums and stage lighting. And some even come as a floodlight camera combo so you can monitor the property.

Flood light on the stadium

Dusk till dawn floodlights are another option and automatically switch on as the sun starts to go down and remain illuminated until it rises the next morning.

You can also opt for a floodlight going by its bulb type ranging from incandescent and fluorescent to HID, halogen and LED.

Another consideration is color temperature which refers to how warm or cool the light is. Naturally, for home settings such as the garden, you may want to go for something a bit warmer and more welcoming such as a warm white. For security purposes, it makes sense to look for a cooler white that yields a crisper light.

Where Can You Use These?

Floodlights are ideal for illuminating larger areas like driveways, parking lots, sports fields, stadiums, construction sites, warehouses and such. They are also used on slow-moving vehicles or others that perform tasks at night such as roadwork, street-sweeping and harvesting.

Flood light with blue sky

At home, you can use these for entertaining outdoors such as a nighttime barbeque or other outdoor event.


Both spotlights and floodlights come with their own respective uses, making them suitable for different settings. What you choose for yourself will depend on the application you have in mind.

If you found this information useful, don’t hesitate to share it with others. And if we missed something that you’d like to know about, then feel free to comment below.

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