Lighting as a component of home security

2013-03-31T11:00:00Z Lighting as a component of home securityJeff Stock The Billings Gazette
March 31, 2013 11:00 am  • 

Good lighting is said to be one of the biggest deterrents to crime, as criminals do not want to be seen or identified. Burglars stay away from entry areas, such as doors and windows, that are well-lit. If burglars can see from a distance that you have no good hiding areas around these entry points, they will likely try another property with poor lighting. Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent break-ins, sufficient and strategically-placed lighting can often help to deter them. There are several things to consider when implementing strategic lighting.

Light location

Exterior lighting should be bright enough for you to see 100 feet away easily, and it’s best if it lit well enough for you to identify colors. It is important that the perimeter of your home be well lit, especially the main entrance.

Exterior lighting at the main entrance of the home and garage is often functional as well as decorative. Along the perimeter of the home, floodlights are commonly used in exterior security lighting, as they are able to illuminate a large area with just a single bulb.

Floodlights can be overpowering if the wattage is too high. This bright light can result in strong shadows in which people can hide. Unfortunately, the brighter the light the more extreme the shadows. The best way to effectively use floodlights as a part of home security is to use a 60-120 watt bulb. Using several lights with a moderate-level bulb helps reduce shadowy areas, decrease glare and provide some light even if one of the bulbs burns out. It is recommended that color of the bulb for exterior lighting be a bright white bulb (one with a higher level Kelvin rating - 4000K or higher).

The placement of exterior lights is also important. Lights situated higher off the ground will reduce the opportunity for tampering. Because floodlights provide such a high degree of light, if they are poorly installed they can actually aid the criminal by producing glare and blinding onlookers. The best angle for these floodlights is pointed directly down, illuminating the background wall and reducing bulb visibility and minimizing glare.

Flip the switch

There are several types of systems to manage your security lighting automatically. Timers allow the light to be turned off and on and will give the appearance that you are home even when you are away. These timers are often used with interior light systems as well as exterior systems. When using timers for interior lights, it is best to select timers that allow for the lights to turn on and off randomly, hopefully closely mimicking the lighting patterns for when you are actually home. Nowadays, these systems can even be controlled remotely by an Internet connection or a smartphone.

Photoelectric sensors are often referred to as “dusk to dawn” lighting. These sensors detect changes in light and turn off and on accordingly. Unlike timers, photoelectric sensors do not have to be adjusted based on fluctuating daylight hours. These sensors are the least expensive to purchase, but the most expensive to operate due to the energy required to keep lights on all night and the more frequent need to change bulbs.

Motion sensors detect movement within a certain radius of the sensor and turn on the light. These sensors are effective and often surprise an unsuspecting burglar. The biggest disadvantage to these sensors is that they are often accidentally triggered by small animals and passing cars. These lights are often less expensive than heat sensing lights.

Heat sensors are programmed to be turned on when they sense heat, specifically human body heat. These sensors are not accidentally turned on by small animals or moving tree branches.

Regardless of the type of lights and lighting systems chosen, improving exterior lighting around your home has the added bonus of increasing overall safety from falls and injuries. There is no cookie-cutter recipe for the type and amount of home security lighting; home security lighting is as individual as the home and its owner. But these tips can assist homeowners in enhancing the overall safety and comfort of their home.

Jeff Stock

Owner, Elk Ridge Electric

(406) 697-0104

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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