Thought it comes in many forms, outdoor security lighting is a must-have for homes, businesses, and other properties. There are very few passive measures that do more to deter crime in all its forms: vandalism, burglary, robbery, assault. In further good news, while your needs may vary, security lighting can be relatively cheap and easy to install in its basic form.
The first and easiest approach to outdoor security lighting is to make use of the lighting you already have. Most residential and commercial structures have some form of outdoor lighting: flood lights on the driveway, a front porch light, parking lot or entranceway illumination. As a simple “step on”, you can just start leaving some or all of these on at night or while you’re away from home. Easy and low cost; install LED or compact florescent bulbs if you want to save electricity.
The next step would be to upgrade your existing lighting. Replacing an outdoor light with a security flood light, preferably one that is motion activated, is a relatively simple DIY project. Buy the light, assemble the tools, find a friend to hold the ladder, and you should be done in half an hour. Likewise, replacing your porch or back-door lights with a unit which incorporates a dusk-to-dawn light sensor (which automatically turns the light on when it gets dark) is even easier—generally there are no ladders involved.
(My lawyers inform me that I ought to remind you that you do incur all risk and responsibility if you attempt a DIY project.)
Let’s assume for a moment that your home or business lacks any useful outdoor lighting: what are your options then? The good news is that solar powered motion activated floodlights are relatively inexpensive these days and very easy to install. I use them on my property, and it took longer to get all the tools together than to put up any individual light. They come in a variety of makes and models, but since these will likely be outdoor I recommend you buy quality—spend the money the first time and you only have to cry about it once. Just make sure the panel is positioned such that it gets enough sun, and follow all manufacturer’s instructions for letting the batteries charge before use.
Installing new hard wired lights would be the next step up, and there are good reasons to do this—chiefly that they’ll last longer than a solar powered unit will. However, this can involve moderate-to-major surgery to your home’s wiring, and is perhaps best left to the professionals. It’s also the most expensive approach, albeit one that adds value to your home.
No matter what option you settle on, the important final step is to make sure your lights are positioned effectively. They need to light up spaces that criminals like to hide and work in, while not blinding you in the process. The chief sin I see this way comes from driveway lights, which are often angled to blind the driver attempting to park. This can cause numerous problems and accidents: don’t do it. Security lights should illuminate places where people shouldn’t be, or entrances/exits to your home or business.
In summary: while you do need outdoor security lighting, you’ve got options, and you can gradually scale the project by adding to it over time. Take a look at your home, business, or other property, make a plan, and get started today.