Exterior security lights are an excellent way to discourage burglars, vandals and other intruders from making their way into your yard, and your home. However, crime prevention is not the only benefit. Security lights also provide visibility, convenience and safety for legitimate visitors, friends and family who may approach your home after dark, and they can also deter deer or other animals that consider your garden an all-you-can-eat buffet.
That being said, choosing a security light is not just a matter of going to the store and picking the first fixture you see. New technology and designs now allow you to choose from a wide assortment of practical and decorative lights, so that you don’t have to sacrifice style for security.
Manual exterior lights offer continuous light coverage for as long as the fixture is on and as long as the light bulb lasts. They need to be physically turned on or off and are a common choice for lighting doors, porches or entryways where expected visitor may approach.
Dawn to Dusk lights have a sensor which turns the fixture on automatically after the ambient light drops below a certain level. These fixtures provide continuous light coverage after dark but you don’t have to remember to turn them on or off.
Many modern exterior lights are now available with motion sensors which turn the fixture on and off automatically when movement is detected. This provides two main benefits: first, it will startle and call attention to anyone who is up to no good, and second, it provides convenient light for anyone who is supposed to be in your yard (including yourself). Plus, motion sensing lights have the added benefit of energy efficiency because the lights are only on when they’re actually needed instead of being on non-stop. Motion sensing lights are available in a wide range of coverage areas and many of them have adjustable sensitivity levels or light times, and manual override if you need continuous lighting at any point.
Security lights are also available in hardwired or wireless models. Hardwired models are wired directly into the electrical system of your home. The advantage of this is that your security lights will always work, as long as the power isn’t out. The disadvantage is that they are more complicated to install; there will be more limitations on where you can install them and you will most likely need to hire a professional electrician to do the work.
Wireless models are either battery powered or solar powered. The advantage of wireless models is that they can go almost anywhere and they can be easily installed by a do-it-yourselfer. However, you do have to keep an eye on the battery power, as well as the light bulbs. Solar models operate off the sun, which means you don’t need to worry about your batteries but you do need to be more careful about where you place them. If the solar panel is blocked then the unit may not charge properly during the day.
Decorative security lights are widely available and you can find them in pretty much any style or finish that you could want or imagine. This means that you can get the peace of mind that security lighting brings without sacrificing the curb appeal and welcoming look of your home. Also keep in mind that decorative fixtures such as path lights and post lights can also provide security and safety-enhancing illumination around your home.
As with any type of lighting, location is a key factor. Where you install security lights will vary a great deal depending on the number of approaches to your home, and the amount of coverage you want. You should at least have coverage on walkways leading to the front and back doors, but you may also want to cover easily accessible windows, garage access, sheds or other dark areas of your yard. Do a quick survey of your home (day and night) to map out any areas that could be trouble spots. It’s a good idea to draw a little map of your house and yard with appropriate measurements because if you’re planning to use motion detectors, you will have to take their detection range into consideration.