Putting the Burglar in the Spotlight

By: Martin Underwood

If you were a burglar which home would you choose as a target? The house that is completely unlit with plenty of dark places that you could hide in and work on breaking in. Or the house that is well lit with no shadows to screen your activities where you would have every chance of being seen by anybody looking in your direction.

Effective outside security lighting requires a little planning but is affordable and reasonably easy to install.

You may think that the more lighting that you have the better but this is not necessarily the case. True you do need to cover every possible area that a burglar may lurk in but too powerful outside security lights or too much lighting can prove a nuisance or even a danger to your neighbors and passing motorists. Also thought must be given to the question of light pollution.

Outside security lights should be mounted as high as possible and aimed downwards ensuring that only the area that you need to cover is lit. When lights are mounted lower down the light tends to spread sideways as well as downwards which apart from any other consideration can be wasteful.

What you want to avoid is having your outside security lighting shine through your neighbor's windows, this can be extremely annoying and many neighbors have fallen out over badly aimed security lighting. You do not want the lights shining in your own windows either, you will likely be so fed up that you will not switch the lighting on which defeats the object of installing it. Never allow your outside security lighting to dazzle passing drivers.

It is better to install several lower wattage lights rather than fewer high wattage lamps because, even though the higher power lights will greatly illuminate the area they cover, there will be places they don't catch. These places will be particularly dark and shadowy because of the contrast. A greater number of smaller lights can be arranged to cover all spaces without creating shadows and so denying prowlers hiding places.

You will more than likely not want your outside security lights to be on all the time that it is dark but prefer them only to come on when somebody approaches your home. Such lights are controlled by motion detectors. Suddenly being bathed in bright light can give the burglar a nasty shock, give him the fear of being discovered and hopefully send him running.

Motion detectors that are triggered purely by movement are prone to being set of by pets and wild life that get within range and that can mean your outside lighting turning on and off all night. Heat sensing detectors are available that only trigger when human body heat is detected within their range.

Hi-Lo control security lights are an alternative that offer the advantages of both motion detector lighting and lights that are permanently on. These lights incorporate dusk-to-dawn lighting when the lights are continuously on during darkness but at a low level, and spring up to full brightness when the motion detector senses movement.

Outside security lighting is a fairly simple to set up home security measure that can do a first rate job of denying would be burglars protective cover. Like all other security measures outside lighting is most effective as part of an overall security system.

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