It could well be said that no home security system is complete without appropriate security lighting. If an alarm system and motion sensors are the meat and potatoes part of the meal of home security, security lighting is the essential gravy to add the finishing touch and create a masterpiece – one that will protect you and yours against unsavory characters who might break in, leaving you high and dry. But using security lighting properly requires a great understanding of home security and how it will work with your property. You don’t just drown a roast with pools of gravy, and you don’t use gravy that’s not smooth and rich and flavored to perfection. You use a small to moderate amount, and if the seasonings are a good complement, it adds just the right touch. Likewise, security lighting should be a good complement to both your home and the home security system you choose to install.
Once again, security lighting is not meant to be used as the main deterrent for criminals, but it can go a long way in helping to deter them, detect them, or even just increase your ability to feel safe around your own property. Lighting can make a significant different in crime prevention if it is set up well. Obviously, lighting does not prevent things from happening. There are no guarantees just because you have some good lights set up in strategic ways. And worse, when used poorly, lighting can be a waste of energy and can actually help criminals because it gives them a greater ability to see what they are doing. But when used correctly, lighting is highly beneficial and WILL help to protect your home.
Good vs. Bad Security Lighting
Lighting can be used both indoors and outdoors in a variety of ways; good lighting will help you to see what’s going on outside while you are inside, and it will provide enough light to dissuade most criminals. But if lighting is too bright, like floodlights that are unshielded or always left on, they will waste electricity most of the time. They can also give a false sense of security that intruders have been known to take advantage of. Similarly, if not carefully placed and organized, security lighting can cause glares that block your ability to see OR they cause pockets of shadows and unlit areas that reduce night vision, allowing criminals to continue freely with their plans.
Using Lighting Effectively
First and foremost, make sure that the lighting is not too bright so as to cause the problems mentioned above. One rule that may be helpful is to use 0.05 watts per square foot. Secondly, make sure to have a professional help you figure out the best way to organize your security lighting so that you will not inadvertently cause yourself more grief by giving criminals ways to exploit you. Using a few lights with high power will cause glares and shadows, but more lights on lower power will allow the whole area to be lit and reduce glare. Knowing the best way to set up your lighting system will depend on if you intend to observe the area through your own eyes, such as through a window or peephole, or if you are going to be observing through cameras. In addition, take precautions against vandalism – either place security lights in locations that are difficult to access, such as high up or recessed in the ground with the light redirected via mirrors or pipes, or place protective coverings over them that shield them from breakage but still allow the light to shine through. Lastly, make sure that access to the power for the security lights (and the whole security system!) is protected so that it cannot be shut off or tampered with by unauthorized figures.
Security lighting requires a certain amount of finesse, but that should not deter you. There is information freely available about how to use it properly; you can learn more than necessary and perhaps more than you even wanted to know. And you always can – and should – take advantage of professionals who know what they’re doing and who could help you determine the best way to use security lighting for your property.