Humans have come a long way throughout our history, but our desire to feel secure while we’re resting in our homes has never changed.
Granted, we’re not building stone walls several stories high or digging moats around our personal properties anymore, but we’re still taking steps to guard ourselves from the potential threats of the outside world.
For the modern person, security lighting is often the most affordable and one of the simplest solutions to securing the home. If done well, these tools will not only improve your safety, they’ll add elegance to your property.
There are many options across a broad price spectrum in the security lighting market. So before making any purchases, it’s wise to consider your home’s aesthetics, layout and your own goals and desires.
Your home doesn’t need to glow like it was plucked off the Las Vegas Strip for it to deter trespassing. Too much light could draw unwanted attention to your valuables, annoy your neighbors and cause light pollution. Focus on lighting key areas on your home’s perimeter.
Good places to start are driveways, parking areas, streets, backyards, entryways, corners, decks, trees and flower beds, walkways and perimeters. Walk around your home day and night and look for dark or shadowy places that could use some light.
“Motion sensors are great for simultaneously alerting homeowners and warning would-be prowlers, but they’re not ideal for every setting,” said Mike Wallace, an energy services counselor with Clark Public Utilities who has more than a decade of experience with lighting in commercial and residential spaces.
“A simple but effective layout for security lighting is to have the front of your house illuminated from dawn to dusk with timers or photocells, while the sides and rear of your house are equipped with motion-sensor lights,” he said.
See if those spaces would benefit from active lighting systems, like motion-activated spotlights or a passive system, like path lights. A strong home security lighting system will include both elements to create uncertainty for unwelcome visitors. As an added benefit, they’ll make walking around your property at night safer by illuminating any potential tripping hazards or sudden elevation changes.
“Whether you are installing security lights for the first time, or already have them in place, LEDs bulbs are the best option in terms of energy savings,” Wallace said. “We’re talking about pennies a day with LEDs. Halogen and incandescent bulbs are much more expensive to run and also need to be replaced more often.”
Meet your needs
Select a home lighting system that will meet your needs, budget and level of expertise. For example, several companies offer battery-powered, wall-mounted, motion-activated LED lights at a low entry cost. Top-of-the-line systems offer camera-equipped floodlights that integrate into your smart home network and can be controlled with a voice command.
“One great benefit to battery- or solar-powered security lights is the fact that they’re independent from your home’s power supply,” Wallace said. “There’s no need to run wires or hire an electrician. Plus, if there’s a power outage, they’ll still illuminate your home.”
Whatever technical level you choose, find one that matches your home’s design, or at least blends in, and can withstand the local climate. The best product isn’t necessarily the most expensive, but the one that brings you the most peace of mind at an affordable price.
While you’re thinking about securing your home perimeter, direct some attention to the inside as well. Putting a few lamps and electronics on timers can be an easy and inexpensive deterrent while you’re away. Companies are making smart outlets, which can be programmed to activate on different schedules on different days, furthering the illusion that someone is home.
Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.