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LED security lighting: does it work and how to find the right lights for your home

Security lighting can help a property feel secure by offering a deterrent to potential burglars. In this guide, we talk about the benefits of LED, the best security lights available and installation advice.

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Expert contributors

Do security lights work as a deterrent?

This has been a subject of debate for many years. You may find blogs stating that security lights do not actually provide any benefits. However, if you look a bit deeper, you will find that security lights, along with other security measures, can act as an excellent deterrent.

Below are three studies/surveys which looked at outdoor security lighting and their benefits:

  • In 2017, Co-op Insurance and The Guardian interviewed several ex-burglars to discuss what deterred them from potentially breaking into a home: Security lights placed in the top 10.
  • A major US study conducted a six-month randomised controlled trial in troubled neighbourhoods. It found that outdoor lighting cut crime by 39%.
  • In the May 2017 edition of Security Journal, a study was conducted using data from the UK between 2008–2012. It concluded that the best protection against burglary to households which had only one security device installed was to fit external lights to a sensor.

As you can see, external security lights are a key part of a fully effective security system. There are dozens to choose from, and you will need to identify the right lights for your situation. Read below to find out more.

Security lights are important for prospective buyers too, Ugo says “The more expensive the property, the more buyers will expect the security system to be high tech and include things like motion sensor lighting and CCTV. They will also want systems that they can easily activate while they’re in the home and also can monitor when they are away.”

Halogen vs LED security lighting?

Halogen was once the leading light bulb design. In recent years, however, LED has overtaken it. This is due to technological advancements and consumers becoming more concerned about the price of halogen and its effect on the environment.

Below is a table that compares halogen to LED.

 

Halogen bulbs

LED bulbs

Warm-up time

Immediately warms up

Immediately warms up

Lifespan

15,000 hours

30, 000 hours

Maintenance

Bulb replacements and general maintenance every few years

Largely maintenance free

Efficiency

  • Higher energy use
  • Shorter lifespan
  • Less energy for the same lumens
  • Savings of up to 75%

Costs

Cheaper to purchase but energy consumption and bulb replacements will cost more

More expensive upfront but costs are offset by efficiency and lifespan

Warm-up time

Warm-up time is key for security lights, especially if they are motion-sensor activated. You want your lights to instantly switch on to startle and illuminate any potential burglars. Both LED and halogen warm up instantly.

Lifespan and maintenance

Lifespan is an important factor for all types of lights. Bulbs with longer lifespans can save you time and effort, along with added costs. Cheaper bulbs often have shorter lifespans.

Maintenance

Bulbs with shorter lifespans will need replacing more often. This can be a pain, especially with security lighting. You should put security/flood lighting in high, hard-to-reach places to ensure they aren’t tampered with. Repeatedly having to replace bulbs can be irritating and awkward.

Efficiency

If you are using security lights designed to be on from dusk to dawn, light efficiency should be a top priority. If your chosen bulb has low efficiency, it will require more energy, which will cost you more. If a bulb offers the same lumens but requires less energy (wattage), that bulb is the most efficient.

Costs

When looking at costs, you should look at costs over time. Lifespan, efficiency and maintenance all play a part in the overall costs. A cheap bulb is less likely to have decent lifespan and efficiency etc. It’s worth investing upfront rather than having to continually pay further down the line.

Are LED floodlights direct replacements for halogens?

LED floodlights outmatch halogens in almost every category. Visually, you are unlikely to notice any difference between the two—LED offers the same lumens and warm-up speed but with cheaper costs and less maintenance.

LED floodlights have become a staple in the security lighting world, so much so that it’s now harder to find halogen floodlights.

Lights, power and sensors

Lights:

For security there’s two main types:

  • Floodlights
  • Spotlights

Security floodlights

Security floodlights are designed to illuminate a large amount of space with a beam spread of up to 120 degrees.

Use floodlights to illuminate:

  • driveways
  • gardens
  • front lawns

Best security floodlight

Osram LEDVANCE 50w LED Floodlight IP65

  • Available in 3000k (warm white) or 4000k (white)
  • Suitable replacement for up to 400w halogen floodlights
  • 30,000-hour lifespan
  • Lumen output: 5000lms
  • 3-year warranty

£24.00

Click here to view product page

Spotlights

Spotlights cast a much narrower beam for easier point-and-control.

Use spotlights to illuminate:

  • small areas
  • specific objects

Security spotlights vs security floodlights

Both these products can help illuminate your home. However, for general security, you should purchase floodlights. They create the widest spread of light, so you can illuminate a large area without having to buy multiple lights, keeping your costs lower. A few cheap LED floodlights can make a big difference.

Spotlights are excellent if you’re looking to illuminate small and specific areas such as the front porch. Spotlights near the front door can improve lighting conditions for security cameras. With proper illumination, your cameras will be able to clearly spot any intruders. If a crime takes place, you will have footage that you can give to police.

Power:

There are three main types of power supplies for security lighting:

  • Solar-powered
  • Battery-operated/wireless
  • Wired

Solar-powered

Solar lights use the sun as a power source, so they can charge up during the day and illuminate your driveway/garden at night. They are an inexpensive source of light and sold at many local supermarkets.

Pros

Cons

  • Lower energy costs
  • No wiring necessary
  • Less maintenance due to being wireless
  • Inexpensive
  • Renewable energy
  • Not as bright as other types of lights
  • Weather can affect amount of light absorbed

Best solar-powered security light

Optonica Solar LED Security Light

  • IP44 rated
  • Both PIR motion detector and dusk to dawn
  • Offers 25 seconds of light when motion is detected
  • 7-hour charge time
  • 30,000-hour average lifespan

£13.54

Click here to view product page

Battery-operated/wireless

Battery-operated lights are a popular type of security lighting. This is because they are easy and relatively inexpensive to install.

Pros

Cons

  • No need for an electrician
  • Consistent light
  • Good brightness
  • Cost-effective
  • Small area of brightness
  • Battery will need replacing
  • Gets less bright as battery runs out

Best battery-operated security light

Optonica Battery Powered Twin 6w LED Floodlight PIR

  • IP44 rated
  • Provides 10–60 seconds of light when motion is detected
  • 30,000-hour average lifespan
  • Works up to 10 metres away
  • Perfect for walkways, patios and driveways

£17.10

Click here to view product page

Wired

Wired security lights are lights that are connected to the mains. They are a common type of security light for commercial businesses and larger homes, and the recommended option if you have the budget.

Pros

Cons

  • Brightest light of the group
  • Widest area of brightness
  • Does not need frequent replacements
  • Can be installed anywhere that offers wiring
  • Wiring lights will increase costs

Security light sensors

PIR/motion sensor

PIR security lights are motion-activated lights. PIR stands for passive infrared receiver, which is the type of technology these lights use.

PIR security lights are activated when the sensor detects motion within its range. They can be an excellent deterrent to potential burglars. Combining PIR lights with a security camera means you have a better chance of capturing the burglar on CCTV, if any break-in did occur.

Eren Stirling says “Motion sensor lights attracts attention, so if a light suddenly comes on that will generally be enough to make people walk away.”

Best security light with motion sensor

Osram LEDVANCE 50w LED Floodlight 3000k—PIR

  • Replacement for up to 400w halogen floodlights
  • Suitable for large areas such as lawns and driveways
  • 30,000-hour lifespan
  • IP65 IP rating
  • 3-year warranty
  • Motion sensor included

£38.96

Click here to view product page

Do motion sensor lights work during the day?

Yes. Their infrared technology detects motion in both daylight and darkness. If you do not want the PIR lights to activate during the daytime, you can often change the setting on the back of the fixture.

Dusk to dawn

Dusk to dawn lighting is, as the name suggests, lighting that only operates between sunset and sunrise—night-time. A photocell embedded in the product detects when daylight levels have dropped enough for it to be needed. It will switch off again once it detects enough sunlight.

Dusk to dawn lights are perfect if you are looking for added security while using as little energy as possible—which is good for the environment and your bank account.

Best dusk to dawn security sensor

PC10A External Photocell Kit

  • Designed to turn lights on when ambient light goes below a certain limit
  • IP65 IP rating
  • 1-year guarantee

£7.68

Click here to view product page

Wattage/lumen/volts/size/

What wattage of floodlight do I need for security lights?

Most people believe that wattage means brightness. However, this is incorrect, especially when it comes to LED lighting. Wattage refers to the amount of electricity a bulb requires to operate. With halogen lights, this was relevant as the higher the wattage, the brighter the bulb.

However, with the advent of LED, wattage is no longer an accurate measure of brightness. LED bulbs are energy-efficient, meaning they can provide the same level of brightness as a halogen bulb, at a much lower wattage.

LED and halogen wattage for outside lighting

Below is an approximate measure of halogen wattages and LED equivalents.

Location

Halogen wattage

LED wattage

Footpath/seating area

Up to 40w

Up to 5w

Small driveway or garden

40w–80w

5w–11w

Fully lit large lawn

80w+

12w+

As you can see, the energy consumption for LED is much lower, saving you money. A better way at looking at brightness is lumens (lm). The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light. Read below to find out more.

How many lumens for outdoor floodlights?

Floodlights are available in a range of brightness levels. The larger the space, the brighter you will want your bulb. An outdoor floodlight with a low lumens output (700–1500lm) is suitable for footpaths and drives, while larger gardens will need high-powered floodlights.

There is no hard and fast rule for picking floodlights of a certain brightness, but below is a rough guide that may help.

Area

Recommended lumens

Driveway

1500lm

Small patio

500lm

Small garden

1600lm

Medium garden

2400lm

Placement and angle also make a big difference to how efficiently your outdoor space is lit. Getting these right will give you a little more room with the lumens output of your chosen floodlight.

Conversely, if you know you can’t install the light in a perfect position, you can take this into account when deciding on the brightness of the floodlight.

Position, installation and wiring security lights

Best places to position security lights

You should aim to cover your entire house with decent security lighting—this includes the front and back lawn. You will want to ensure your lights are positioned so they cannot be tampered with, but still reachable if you need to maintain them.

Below are some things to consider when choosing a position for your security light:

Height

Place lights quite high off the ground, just below your roof. The higher the light, the bigger the area covered. However, make sure that it’s not too far off the ground as this will make the light softer and certain areas may become blind spots.

Blind spots

Blind spots are the areas your light cannot get to. Avoid creating these as much as possible. Ugo says “they should be placed around areas where burglars may hide such as behind bushes, or under stairs.”

An easy way to ensure all areas are covered is by purchasing smaller lights designed to focus on these potential blind spots.

Neighbours

Try to install lights that won’t shine brightly onto neighbouring homes. Installing PIR motion sensor lights means your neighbours won’t get a bright beam travelling into their house all night.

Should I disguise security devices?

Erin Stirling says “If you have really obvious CCTV cameras it can make people think that you have things of value and draws attention to the house. Try and keep them discrete if you can but make sure you don’t obscure the view of the camera. With lighting, however, I don’t think it makes a difference as lighting is used for both security and convenience.

osram

Can you replace LED bulbs security light and how to?

There are two ways you can replace your LED lights – you can replace the bulb or replace the entire light.

You can replace most standard LED security lights with an LED R7 bulb, which should pop into the existing fitting like a normal replacement with several sizes to choose from.

See the full range here: https://www.lampshoponline.com/led/led-floodlights/led-flood-light-bulbs.html

osram

Or you can change the whole existing security light to a new LED floodlight with PIR sensor.  Osram is one of our favourite brands offering LED flood lights with PIR sensors for added security. Prices start from just £18.31.

See the full range here: https://www.lampshoponline.com/led/led-floodlights/osram-led-floodlights/osram-floodlights-with-pir.html

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