The experts are constantly preaching the gospel of home security lighting and its effectiveness as a deterrent to crime. On the surface, this advice appears to make perfect sense. Criminals prefer to work under the cover of darkness; therefore, a well-lit property should deter criminal activity. A perfect example of simple straightforward logic. The problem with this reasoning is the assumption that straightforward logic would apply to a group of individuals known primarily for being crooked.
Most people would consider a home with security lighting to be a good deterrent to crime, unfortunately criminals are not like most people. To the eyes of a burglar, your home may be giving off signals that it is unoccupied, advertising the extent of your security preparedness or lack thereof and even suggesting the best ways to go about breaking in.The truth is that when they are used correctly exterior security lights can be extremely effective in preventing a burglary; the problem is that most homeowners don’t utilize them properly. Hopefully, this article will shed some light on this problem, and offer you a few solutions that will help you correct these mistakes.
The wrong way to use outdoor security lights – So you have finally decided to beef up your home security and have installed a set of exterior lights around your property. If you are using the type that runs off a timer or automatically comes on after dark and stays on all night, you may not be as safe as you think.
The element of surprise – it can win wars and as part of a security strategy, it can stop a criminal in his tracks. When you use a security lighting system that is always on, you are giving away this advantage. The common reason given for lighting the exterior of your home in this fashion is that it eliminates all the dark spots that a burglar can use to conceal himself.
Unless you are lighting up your property like a football field during a night game, there are going to be a few dark spots that can conceal an assailant. If your security lights are always on, you are showing a intruder exactly where theses areas are and allowing him the opportunity to plan the best way to approach and enter your home.
In order to put the element of surprise back on your side, you need to consider installing motion activated security lighting.
Motion activated security lights – Imagine that you are a burglar. You are slithering up to a home in the middle of the night when unexpectedly you are hit with a blinding light, what is your next move? If value your freedom you will probably try to get off that property as quickly as humanly possible.
Motion activated lights work because they present a criminal with a whole series of unknown variables, that he has only a fraction of a second to consider and act on. Things like did the homeowner trigger the lights or are they automatic, are they connected to a video surveillance system or some type of alarm, am I being observed by a next-door neighbour, and have the police already been notified.
It is these unknowns that allow a simple device costing less than a hundred dollars, to be so effective at preventing burglaries.
Now that we have established that motion activated security lighting is they way to go, I would like to offer one additional piece of advice regarding the solar-powered models that you are sure to encounter.
Integrating a video surveillance system with security lighting
Now that you have sorted out your lighting issues, how would you like to take it to the next level by integrating a security camera system? Just because a criminal has been temporarily deterred, does not mean that they will not target another home in your community, or even possibly return to yours at some later time. Installing a security camera system increases the chance of a arrest being made.
Security cameras have a well-deserved reputation for being of limited use in low light situations. However, when they are coupled with security lighting, you now have a crime-fighting tool that cannot only deter a potential burglar, but also has the ability to record incriminating video footage for later use by law enforcement.
How I get burglars to pose for my security camera – It is a natural reaction when startled to look in the direction of the source. We can use this to our advantage by placing our security cameras right next to the lighting fixture. This little trick guarantees that you will get a well-lit image of your nighttime visitors face, even if they only look in the direction of the light for a fraction of a second.
There are even a couple of products on the market like the Nightwatcher robotic security light and the Smartguard motion light, that have combined the motion activated security light with a video surveillance system into one compact unit.
Solar-powered flood lights – In theory solar powered lights seem like a great idea. You don’t have to have to connect them to your home’s electrical system; they offer more flexibility in placement, and are a breeze to install.
What they don’t tell you is that due to these units being essentially battery powered, there is a trade-off between the intensity of the lights and their run time. The first solar-powered security light that I installed on my home, bathed the area with a soft glow rather than delivering the shock and awe of the 300 watt flood light that I currently have installed.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with solar-powered lighting when used for illuminating pathways, but for security purposes, I recommend that you go with the brighter bulbs of a hardwired light.
When it is appropriate to keep lights on
The are certain situations when exterior lights should be left on throughout the night. This is done primarily for safety and not security. Areas such as walkways and pathways leading to your home, and your street address should be lit with low voltage lighting.
An inadequately lit walkway can easily result in a visitor to your home, seriously injuring themselves. There are many tripping hazards around your property that you may not readily notice because you are so used to them. Something as simple as a toy left out by your kids, or a broken portion of pavement could result in your giving the pizza delivery guy his biggest tip ever.
During an emergency, whether it be a burglary, medical or otherwise, it would be in your best interest to ensure that your street address is clearly visible. In these situation’s seconds count and the time wasted trying to find your home could end up costing you more than just money.
The concept of security lighting has been keeping us safe since the beginning of civilization. Whether it was the camp fire left burning at night in order to keep wild animals away, or modern-day motion sensing security lights, that are designed to keep the two-legged variety of these same animals off your property. You cannot question the effectiveness of security lighting, only the reasons’ homeowners give for not utilizing them.