Security Lighting Options & Locations for Earlier, Darker Nights
The days are getting darker and colder. Winter Solstice 2017 begins on Thursday, December 21, but we are already seeing the effect of Earth’s axial tilt. Unfortunately, the holiday season combined with darker days makes us more vulnerable to unwanted intruders and safety hazards.
One easy way to protect your home and increase the safety and security around your home is with increased outdoor security lighting.
In addition to making your pathways, steps, and doorways safer for your family, postman, and guests, outdoor security lighting can also add warmth and an inviting glow to the outside of your home. Learn more about the benefits of outdoor lighting.
Where Should You Place Your Security Lights?
Here are some of the basic places for security lights to increase safety and security around your home:
1. Pathways – To avoid unnecessary trips and falls, it’s essential that your pathways are well-lit. Whether you are taking the garbage out or simply coming back home after a long day’s work, you want to feel safe walking on your own pathways. This includes your staircases, driveways, and any other areas that lead to your doors.
2. Doors and Doorways – Fumbling with your keys is hard enough in daylight. In order to dissuade would-be home intruders and to help your family and guests feel safe when they approach your doors, it’s important to have effective lighting in this area.
The front door is probably the most important place to illuminate. Without good lighting, you will have difficulty identifying people, safely making it to the door, and using your keys. Doorway lighting is also important for many homes to help illuminate the address for guests and emergency services. Consider backup lighting, such as wall-mounted fixtures, in case the main bulb goes out.
Make sure you have lighting for all of your doors, including front doors, back doors, and side doors.
3. Shrubbery and Trees – One of the best hiding places for home intruders is around shrubbery and trees near your home. They provide the perfect hiding place for anyone trying to enter your home. In addition to preventing an effective hiding place for would-be burglars, lighting up trees and shrubbery is also a great way to highlight the most beautiful parts of your home and yard.
4. Ledges and Steps – In addition to making your home look more beautiful, lighting up ledges and steps is also extremely helpful when it comes to navigating your home safely.
5. Pools, Ponds, and Spas – In order to prevent people from inadvertently falling in and to safely see anyone in your pool, pond, or spa, effective lighting is crucial.
6. All Sides – Don’t just light up the front of your home. Burglars normally like to stay away from the street. While lighting up the front yard, pathways, and doors is essential for preventing trips and falls by friends and family, it’s probably the least likely place for a home intruder to enter. In addition to the front of your home, make sure the sides and rear of the home are well-lit as well. These lights will also help you navigate your home at night, which of course is arriving earlier and earlier as we head into December.
7. Darks Spots – One of the best ways to find out where you need extra lighting is by walking around your home looking for potential blind spots. This is the time to think like a criminal. In addition to obvious places mentioned above, you’ll want to consider any dark places you may have missed. Every home is different, so, you’ll want to pay attention to the particular blind spots around your home.
8. Exits and Safety Features – If you have an outdoor fire extinguisher, fire escape, or any other home exits and safety features, make sure they are well-lit and easy to locate.
Increase lighting in any area that you use frequently. If you have a basketball hoop in the driveway, you’ll want to invest in more lighting in that area. The same applies to patios, swimming pools, and other high-use areas.
Positioning and Light Types
In addition to the areas around your home you should light up, you also need to consider how your outdoor lights are positioned. Simply placing lights in the area where you need light isn’t enough.
For the most effective security lighting around your home, use a variety of different types of light for different applications.
To cover the widest area and make the most of your outdoor lighting, it’s best to place them high up and cast the light downwards. This is referred to as downlighting.
Downlighting is sometimes referred to as moonlighting. The lights are normally place in trees, along high rafters and ceilings, or recessed into hollow openings. They are best for casting a wide area of light around the home, which is why they provide excellent security lighting.
Downlighting enhances safety and security, ideally suited for walkways, steps, and to help avoid tripping hazards. They can also be used to highlight architectural element and mark off landscaping areas. If you have a patio, deck, or pool/spa area, downlights are the way to go.
Keep in mind, that the higher you place the light, the brighter the light will need to be. If the lights are too low, you won’t be able to cast the light as wide and will need more lights to compensate. Speak with an outdoor lighting expert to find the right balance of light height and brightness.
Uplighting, on the other hand, are placed low to the ground and cast a beam of light upwards. They are normally used to accentuate features and create an aesthetic contrast to all of your downlights.
Usually, uplighting is used around vertical objects, like trees, statues, columns, and other architectural features. They are used by lighting architects to add shape and dimension to your landscape. While uplights can instantly make your home look more upscale, they aren’t the most effective when it comes to increasing safety and security around the home. Still, we highly recommend them for creating focal points, highlighting specific areas, and adding depth to flat surfaces. They can instantly make a boring wall or fence look a lot better.
Bullet lighting can be positioned as uplight or downlights, but they are distinguished by their narrow light stream. Small and versatile, you can use bullet lights to create a narrow beam of light anywhere around your home.
Well lighting is usually a form of uplighting. Normally hidden in the ground, they create a wider beam of light, most often used to light up the sides of the home. They can also be used under trees to highlight branches and foliage.
Wash lighting is best for lighting up large areas of the home, such as siding, walls, and fences. The light covers a large area and tends to be soft and subtle. Flood lighting, on the other hand, is much brighter and more akin to heavy-duty security lighting in parking lots.
Solar lighting can also be an option. While you will have to periodically clean them and replace the battery, they will save you money on your electricity bills and some are extremely easy to install.
Nearly all of these lighting options can be installed as fixed or adjustable. Opt for adjustable lights if you can so you can easily adjust your lighting angle as needed. For more information on outdoor security lighting types, read our Landscape Lighting Guide.
Here are some final takeaways for your outdoor security lighting:
- Outdoor lighting should be placed out of reach. Downlighting is best for maximizing security lighting. Speak with your lighting designer and electrician about tamper-proof security lighting.
- Consider motion sensors.
- Clean lights regularly and replace burnt bulbs as soon as possible.
- Do not point lights toward neighboring homes or the street. Try to avoid direct eye contact with the light source by shielding lights and pointing them downward.
- If you have security cameras, make sure the area is well lit. Avoid pointing security cameras into dark areas. Conversely, do not point to camera directly toward a light source, such as a light bulb or the sun
- Speak with a professional outdoor lighting expert for proper design, installation, and maintenance.
Don’t just focus on outdoor lighting or security lighting. Speak with a professional electrician trained in both areas for a good mixture of the two.
Many times, landscape lighting can serve dual functions—keeping your home safe and secure while making your home more beautiful and increasing use of your outdoor spaces.
There are many ways you can increase the security light around your home to increase aesthetics, safety and security.
Whether it is showcasing your home’s most beautiful features or simply increasing peace of mind for you and your loved ones, speak with an expert electrician at Gold Medal Service for help improving your outdoor security lighting.
For more information on the different types of outdoor lighting you can use for your home, see our Landscape Lighting Guide.