Outdoor Security Lighting – Does it Really Work?

Outdoor security lighting prevents or deters criminal activity. However, studies in the UK, United States and Sweden show that improper arrangement and use of these lights can actually lead to an increase in crime such as vandalism and theft. Here, we explore the reasons for security lights failing their basic test of viability and how you can avoid making these mistakes in your own landscape lighting plan.

Low-level Lights

The problem with failing to install your security lights high enough is that they can easily be sabotaged. Prevent this from occurring by installing your outdoor security lights at an elevation high enough to deter criminals and vandals from disabling or destroying them. However, make sure that vandals can’t gain access to the lights by simply climbing onto an adjacent structure. In cases where placing lights at a higher elevation is not possible, project the lights within mesh boxes or polycarbonate shields that are strong enough to resist physical assault.

Unshielded Lighting

This is another major concern because bright, unshielded lights that point towards the outside of the property can actually create a glare that works to the advantage of criminals. Outsiders can’t see what’s going on within the property because of this glare, and this makes it ideal to carry out illegal activity on your property without anyone’s knowledge. Unless you have CCTV installed, this could pose a major security risk. The solution is to either reposition the lights or use shields and housings for bright perimeter lights. Cutting off the glare by angling the lights either towards the ground or targeting them inward will help, as will installing housing that cuts off the glare and increases visibility from the outside.

Exposed Connections

The third high-risk area is the power supply to the security lights. Any lighting system adequately elevated and shielded is still subject to power supply tampering, rendering the entire exercise a waste. Therefore, the physical line and the access controls should either run under the ground or within protected conduits that are tamper-proof.

Other Considerations

For better security, several medium power lights are more effective than fewer high-powered ones; they help cut glare, can reduce overall power usage and will remain bright even if one or two stop working. Position the lights so there are no ‘blind spots’ or dark areas that are counter-productive to security. Install CCTV if you want more security that can capture any activity during the night or day. Security lighting is obviously only useful at night, so you can address daytime security with a closed-circuit recording system. Install motion detection equipment to save on power costs so that the lights don’t need to be powered all the time – these systems may be expensive in the short run, but in the long run, they will save you hundreds of dollars in power costs, if not thousands.

Remembering these pointers will allow you to achieve a much higher level of security for your property, while at the same time help you optimize your power usage.