Lighting an area for security has been instrumental in deterring crime, preventing accidents, improving functionality, and improving the security of public, business, and residential spaces. A well-illuminated area is inviting and allows people to congregate and feel safe in the space. It also facilitates surveillance by authorities and the surrounding community, increasing informal social control.
Objectives of installing security lighting include:
- Provide clear visibility of areas from a distance to see anyone moving in or around the area
- Remove potential hiding places around routes that pedestrians travel
- Provide facial recognition at a distance of about 30 feet
- Assist the use of other safety devices such as cameras in the area
- Deter crime against property and people
- Increase nighttime pedestrian traffic and feeling of security
The responsibility of providing the security lighting falls on the property owner, such as the municipality, business operator, or resident, as it not only assists the surrounding area but also their sense of self-security. The lighting should never impede the surrounding area and should be installed respectfully.
Let's take a quick look at what security lighting is, where it should be installed, and how to best implement a solar solution when necessary.
Installing Security Lighting
Installing security lighting is beneficial to both homeowners and business owners in different ways. To a homeowner, the why is simple. Not only does it drastically lower the chance of a break-in or theft of outside property, but it also, in the case of theft or trespassing, gives a much better chance of being able to identify the perpetrator or catching them on camera. In addition, a security light gives the homeowner a greater sense of control and safety should such a thing occur.
The same sense of safety and control would apply to the business owner. Still, for them, it also brings a sense of safety and security to the surrounding area and the people and employees who frequent the business. For example, nighttime employees would undoubtedly feel much better about leaving their work if there were security lights to light up their parked cars and the adjoining areas.
Customers who shop at night are also much more likely to shop at a business that has taken the time and care to set up security lights to brighten up their area rather than a dimly lit, shady-looking store. As you can see, the benefit of security lighting for businesses is the safety of the business's property and the people who use it.
It far outweighs the initial cost or hesitation of buying the lights. Nothing is worth more than the peace of mind and sense of safety that such a simple thing as lighting can bring to both the property owner and the business operator.
Residential Security Lighting
Residential areas use many different forms of lighting for security purposes, including landscape lighting, perimeter flood lighting, and access lighting. Each of these various types of lighting for a residential area has its use and reasons for implementation.
Landscape Lighting for Security
Landscape lighting uses low-level lights that shine up at trees, light up landscapes and hardscapes, and even shine on homes and buildings. These show movement around an area and does not leave many places to hide. Landscape lighting can also illuminate hard-to-reach areas, such as the outskirts of a property.
Perimeter Flood Lighting
Perimeter flood lights should be installed in remote areas around a community or home. These can use motion sensors so as not to be too intrusive when there is no one in the vicinity. Best of all, visibility will be excellent when motion is detected, allowing you to see what is moving around.
Access lighting, like that used at entrance points, is a great way to provide added security to those coming and going and residents that live closer to the access points. This can include things like the entrance sign, overhead area lighting, and some additional landscape lighting.
Much of the very low-level and motion-activated type of lighting can be found online or in big box stores for residential use. Motion detected perimeter flood lights are a great way to secure the outside of a home as well as alert the homeowners of possible movement outside. They also have easy installation methods, especially solar-powered landscape and security lighting. If you are working on the home's power, don't forget to turn off the breakers first!
Business Security Lighting
Businesses have a different set of rules they need to follow when providing light for security purposes. They require much larger scale lighting systems that are designed by a lighting engineer and require extensive electrical knowledge to install.
Businesses that are open after dark need brightly lit walkways, parking lots, and entrances to make sure the customers and employees are safe. After the business closes, the lights can sometimes be dimmed down to lower the power consumption.
These lights are purchased through a lighting manufacturer or distributor and require electricians for installation. If solar security lights are being used, the voltage is much less, but hiring an electrician still may be your best option for installation.
There are many variations of lighting levels required by different types of businesses, such as law enforcement, schools, hotels, gas stations, etc. The lighting engineer or manufacturing company you are working with for security lighting will have knowledge of these needs and be able to help make sure the requirements are met. Talk to your lighting professional about what your needs are, and they will find the right light for your project.
How Solar Security Lighting Can Help
Security lighting sometimes needs to be located in a very remote area where access to grid power is costly. An off-grid solar security lighting system is easily installed in any location with access to the sun is a great alternative to fill in that gap. The safety provided by solar lighting is important to any home or business.
Since solar-powered security lights are self-contained, the installation will be a snap. Setting the poles and installing the solar power assembly and light fixture with bracket will take less time and will not require additional trenching. This saves on costs and allows for the lighting to be implemented more quickly. Best of all, there is no trenching or damage to surrounding areas in most cases.
These systems sometimes have a higher upfront cost than a traditional light and pole; however, there are a few things to remember:
- A solar security light doesn't require the grid energy for power; therefore, there is no electric bill to operate the light.
- There is no need for large electrical lines, meters, or other AC power equipment to operate the light.
- The solar pole is much larger than a traditional light pole due to the weight and EPA of the solar unit at the top and needs to meet local AASHTO wind load requirements.
- The solar will produce power for 25+ years, and most other components last 10-15 years.
- The solar has lower installation costs since there is only one pole to set and forget, no interconnection between poles.
Solar is always a great solution when it comes to security lighting as it is great at filling in the gaps when traditional power isn't available. It allows people to feel more safe and secure. Best of all, the solar security lighting systems will still function as programmed during brownouts or blackouts.
A few things to remember when looking for a new solar security lighting system:
- How much power are the solar panel and battery backup providing?
- Make sure there is enough energy produced by the panel to charge the battery assembly fully, and there are at least 3-5 nights of backup (more in northern climates).
- How long is the system designed to operate?
- If you need your light on for only a couple of hours, the solar requirement will be much different than an installation where the light must stay on all night.
- What is the light output and distribution of the security light fixture?
- Will your security light disturb your neighbors?
- Most LED fixtures produce light at a downward angle, but sometimes a little light trespass can occur. Shields are a great way to avoid light trespass if that is of concern.
- What is your system's warranty?
- If your system only has a 1-year warranty and you are in a commercial setting, you are just throwing your money away. Making sure your solar security light has at minimum a 5-year warranty will ensure you have a light that will last.
Finding a light that will meet your needs will take some research; however, they are available. Speak with your local lighting representative, distributor, or even your solar specialist. Our solar powered security lights are perfect for many applications. We are always happy to help our customers find the perfect light to meet their needs.