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Tips for installing a security light

Security lights are an incredibly popular deterrent against burglary, helping both scare off any intruders onto your property and provide extra light for your CCTV cameras. As we’ve discussed many times before, criminals always look for the easy targets when casing neighbourhoods out, so prominent lighting make a dramatic difference. When installed badly however it can be controversial- as anyone who has been woken up by a neighbour’s lighting can attest. Because of this it is worth remembering some easy tips when planning out your lighting system. This isn’t so much an installation guide, as a primer on some things to keep in mind when installing a security light. Depending on the size and location of your lighting, it may also be worth getting it installed by a qualified electrician.

A note on types of lighting

There are two main types of lights commonly used with security systems- Infra Red (“IR”) or Visible (“White”) light.  IR floodlights or illuminators use a frequency of light that the naked eye cannot see, and are designed to provide night vision for CCTV cameras. As you cannot see them working, you don’t really need to worry about annoying the family next door, or whether it is providing an effective deterrent. Because of this, most of this information is relevant to white light, or visible security lighting.

IR illuminators provide night vision for CCTV but cannot be seen with the naked eye

Where to install security lights?

It may sound silly, but the most important thing to keep in mind when choosing light locations is simply “why am I putting lights up?”. Usually the reason is so that you can be alerted if someone has entered the property. Because of this, always best to make sure the light is installed in a position where you can see it when it turns on. Many people don’t think about this, but if you can’t see the light, then potentially all you are doing is providing helpful lighting to the crook!

To prevent the nuisance factor, where possible install lights in a position where they won’t shine brightly onto neighbouring properties. If this isn’t a practical option, then it’s always best to discuss this with your neighbours to find the best location. Don’t forget that different lights illuminate different areas, so you can always opt for a more focussed spotlight if this could be a problem. Similarly, if you are using PIR sensors to provide motion detection, then try and point these away from frequently used areas or paths. Ultimately, if the lights are constantly set off by accident then they are not a practical way of alerting you to an intruder. Also remember that these use heat to trigger, so things like boiler vents can set them off as well.

At what height should a security light be?

It’s important to find a good balance when installing lighting. Too low and the light can be easily vandalised by an intruder, decreasing it’s effectiveness. Too high and you are far more likely to anger Mr and Mrs Jones next door. In most cases the optimum height is around 2.5m. This would be the same for lighting and PIR triggers.

A sneaky tip…

We were recently contacted by a happy customer who had some great results pairing a visible security light with a CCTV camera. His neighbourhood had been continually visited by a thief who was breaking into cars in the middle of the night. Experienced criminals however can be hard to catch in the act, as they know to hide their face from cameras. To catch them out he installed the light next to the camera with a PIR trigger. When the thief triggered it he instinctively looked up to see where the light was coming from, and in doing so provided us all (and the police) with a perfect image of his face (see above). As a result he was quickly tracked down and arrested.

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