Choosing the Best Security Lighting for Your Home

There are other ways to add lighting for home security, but the light that comes to mind for the majority of us is an electrical fixture with one or two pretty bright lightbulbs set fairly high on a wall and illuminating a big area when activated.

Here, we’ve enumerated the major qualities of most security lighting: it’s bright, it illuminates a vast area, it turns on when triggered, and it’s often positioned higher than other lights, allowing it to illuminate a greater area.

Any light fixture that is installed outside your home, along with all of its components, must be built and rated to withstand exposure to the elements. That is, they should be classified as either WP or WR, for “weatherproof” and “weather resistant,” respectively.

What to Look For

First, search for fixtures that will direct the light where it is needed. This may include anything from high-mounted floodlights to (nearly) low-level path lights that make nighttime walking or stair climbing safer. For example, porch and entryway lights function as area illumination, ornamental lighting, and security lighting.

Look for fixtures and components that are designed for outdoor use. If the fixtures will be under a roof, as most porch lights are, they should be designed to withstand moisture but do not need to be waterproof. Fixtures located on an exposed outside wall or in any other vulnerable area, such as in your yard or next to outside steps, must be weatherproof to be durable and safe over the long term.

Consider the desired lighting schedule. Except for gas post lights, you will require the light to be on at some times and off at others, such as when it is dark and when the sun is shining. Frequently, the on/off operation of electric security lights may be automated by installing a timer or photocell to open and close the circuit. Installing a motion detector will allow the light to turn on or change from dim to bright when someone is in the vicinity.

The style or design of the fixtures and controls must also be considered. If the fixtures are visible, you will want to choose ones that complement your home’s architectural style, whether it be Colonial, Craftsman, or Modern.

Optional Settings

The controls may start with basic on/off switches that are manually operated. These may be replaced with timed switches to guarantee that the light is always on at the desired time. This is particularly helpful for security considerations. If you are away from home overnight, the exterior light will continue to turn on and off at its normal hour, giving the impression that someone is present.

A photocell may be used to switch on electric lights at night and off during the day. A motion detector turns the light on when someone enters the covered area and shuts it off after a few minutes if no movement is detected. By combining these two settings, the light may be set to turn on just at night and remain off until there is motion in front of the sensor. With several of the combination controllers, there is an option that activates the light at a low level when it is dark and increases its brightness when motion is detected. When no motion is detected for an extended period of time, the light will decrease again.

Many of us are installing energy-saving light bulbs, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), halogen lamps (halogens), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs), in response to the push for more efficient energy use. One thing to keep in mind is that not all of them are designed to be controlled automatically, particularly by photocells. Many photocells do not initially deliver full power; therefore, light bulbs that demand full power will not function with them. This is particularly true for fluorescent light bulbs. If you want to use CFLs as part of your automated lighting, using dimmable CFLs will typically solve the problem.

The Conclusion

  • Outdoor security lights must be installed so that they illuminate the desired areas.
  • The most effective and efficient security lighting will be integrated with automated controls to provide light only when needed.
  • All exterior fixtures must be waterproof, weather resistant, or if shielded from water, acceptable for wet environments.
  • If the fixtures also contribute to the look of your home, they should be designed to suit its style.
  • Use dimmable outdoor light bulbs if the light will be regulated by automated controls, especially if these controls contain a photocell.