Lighting for Security and Safety
Outdoor lighting is often used to help people feel more safe and secure in their own homes. It is used to deter prospective thieves, but has to be used properly, in conjunction with other security measures for it to be effective, as the possibility of being caught is the true prevention method.
Common Lights Used
The most common lights used are motion sensor PIR (Passive infra-red) lamps, as these light up when they detect movement. This means that if someone was to sneak into your back garden, they would trigger the lights, alerting you to the problem. These are also useful if you have to quickly go collect the washing or close the gate at night, as these can provide extra safety for navigating obstacles like stairs.
There are many different bulbs that can be used. One of the most popular in recent years has been halogen bulbs, but these are being replaced with LED floodlights, as these last years longer, are more energy efficient and can be more directional which reduces light pollution annoying neighbours.
This is where many lights fall short, as they are placed incorrectly and so are ineffective. Now, there may already be lights in the garden for other purposes, such as accent lighting or for the safety, and these can sometimes double as security lights, especially if they are something like PIR floodlights already on the side of a shed. However, if you want a more specific security lighting:
- Only light up areas that you or your neighbours can see easily. If you light up the bottom of your garden, yet cannot see that far even with the lights, you may be unwittingly helping a burglar by providing them enough light to work in.
- Doorway entrances, such as porches, as well as providing security, can also beneficial for you when trying to find the lock. PIR can be good as it alerts you to someone approaching the door. However check the range of the sensors, otherwise the light will go on every time someone walks past which can become very annoying.
- Side Driveways/ Garages as protecting your car is probably high up on your priority list. However, once again, only light if these are visible from your house or your neighbours, as otherwise you may be drawing attention to the car, instead of detracting it.
- If you are thinking of lighting up your entire garden with a floodlight, be sure the light is only in your garden, and not spilling over into your neighbours.
- Keeping lights protected from vandalism can also be sorted by putting them in hidden, or hard to reach places. This is another reason why LEDs are a good choice as they don't need changing that often, especially if they are not in continual use, and so can be put in obscure locations.
Why lights are not always effective and how to solve this
Although they can be good at deterring some criminals, studies have shown that on their own lights aren't very effective, and their main purpose is simply a feeling of safety that they give homeowners. In use with CCTV or an alarm system however, they can be more effective, as they increase the risk of the thief being caught, and this fear will make them less likely to target your house.
Also some people are hesitant about PIR lamps because people can become desensitized to them if they are constantly being set off by every cat, bird, and mouse in the garden! This means that when something does go wrong, people are less likely to take the lights as a warning, and so they aren't fulfilling their purpose. A solution would be to check the sensitivity and range of the lights to make sure they are only being set off by human movement.
The lights can also do more harm than good if they are simply causing light pollution into neighbours gardens. However, this is simple to solve as you just have to make sure that the light doesn't overspill into their gardens or houses. To avoid this, you may need to install multiple smaller lights rather than one big one but this shouldn't be too complicated and if you are stuck, consult an electrician on how to achieve this.
There are now many devices which can go in your home, which switch the lights on and off in patterns which resemble human movements, and some can even be programmed to look like a TV flickering on and off at suitable intervals. This can make the house look occupied, which is really the ultimate deterrent for a burglar.