Thinking About Fitting a Security Light? 3 Important Factors to Consider

Shadowy garden? Dark passageways? Fitting a security light outside your home is a quick and easy route to peace of mind for when the darker evenings draw in. As a relatively affordable and straightforward piece of equipment to install, a motion sensor security light helps alleviate fears around home security. It also makes navigating dark outdoor spaces much safer when returning home late.

Table of Contents

1) How Motion Sensor Security Lights Work

2) Choosing a Security Light

3) Things to Consider When Fitting a Security Light

4) Fitting a Security Light

How Motion Sensor Security Lights Work

Motion sensor lights work like little electronic eyes, keeping watch over your property. The PIR (Passive Infrared) sensor detects infrared waves, which are heat waves that radiate from moving objects such as people and animals, but also from warm objects like cars. When a sensor detects these infrared waves moving across its field of view, it automatically triggers the lights to come on.

Most security lights will then stay on for a set period of time, depending on the chosen settings, and will only switch off if the sensor no longer detects any movement. A photocell is also fitted to most models to prevent the security light from operating during daylight hours by automatically deactivating the sensor. Most outdoor motion sensor lights have settings that allow you to adjust the field of view and distance of detection, so you can tailor your lights to the particular needs of your property.

Choosing a Security Light

Ready to choose your security lights? This is a critical part of the process of fitting a security light – how can you fit one without choosing one first! There is a vast collection of outdoor security lights here at Moonlight Design, with a wide range of functional and decorative motion sensor options to choose from.

If you’re worried about breaking up your perfectly-curated external decor, don’t worry because there are lots of choices that are also stylish, as well as being functional. Elstead and Endon are just two of the wonderfully aesthetic choices you might opt for.

There are also Collingwood floodlights that will shed industrial level lighting on any trespassers! These come with colour-switchable technology and can be adjusted to point in several different directions. 

Both of these are aesthetic choices, however. Smaller areas don’t necessarily need as much light as you would think. For front gardens or porches, going for a lower wattage security light will allow good coverage and fewer deep shadows (which too bright a light will cause). 

For lighting larger areas, you might need a greater wattage. Gardens are often spaces where larger wattage would be required. In terms of bulbs, you get a much longer and efficient performance from an LED security light.  

Things to Consider When Fitting a Security Light

1. The right type of security light

There are several styles to choose from when fitting a security light, with the style you choose depending on the individual needs of your property. The main types include:

Floodlights

Security Lights - Floodlight

These are the most common type of motion sensor lights chosen by security-conscious property owners. Floodlights are usually wall-mounted on a bracket and then adjusted until perfectly angled to cover the chosen area. The wide-angle coverage and bright light make floodlighting perfect for illuminating large areas of gardens, grounds and driveways, but the most powerful bulbs can sometimes create glare which can be disadvantageous if you rely on the security light to help you navigate the property.

You can get several different types of floodlights including LED floodlights and solar floodlights, both of which are highly energy-efficient and last a long time. Halogen bulbs have also commonly been used as security floodlighting due to their power and brightness; however, these are now being phased out and will no longer be available.

Decorative security lights

Security Light - Ornamental Wall Light

Better suited to illuminating smaller areas such as porchways and paths, decorative security lights are excellent for providing a little extra safety while looking stylish and elegant. Usually available as wall-mounted or lamp post style lanterns, decorative PIR sensor lights give you the convenience of automatic security lighting without disrupting the aesthetic of your home exterior. The only downside is that they are often less powerful and won’t illuminate particularly large areas of a property.

Bulkhead lights

Bulkhead Wall Light

Functionality rather than appearance make bulkhead lights a highly practical and energy-efficient way of lighting the outside of your house. Bulkhead lights are usually made from strong, heavyweight prismatic glass. Because of this, they possess a durability and a resistance to weather – making them ideal for outdoor lighting. Some bulkhead lighting come with PIR sensors which is a motion-activated mechanism that makes for an ideal security and safety option.

2. Placement – where exactly to fit your security light

When fitting security lights, you must first decide which areas of your property need them the most. If security against intruders is your first priority, then you are best positioning motion-activated lights on the approach to all entrances and approaches to your property. This includes front and back doors, gates, pathways, driveways, patio doors and balconies, as well as some of the darker areas of your garden. Of course, good lighting cannot guarantee safety, but it can be highly effective in making intruders think twice about approaching any further if they are clearly visible.

If your own safety is the higher priority, i.e. navigating outdoor spaces in the dark without falling, all of the above areas remain useful places to position your lights. Placing motion-activated lighting on driveways and in porches and front door areas ensures your lighting will be activated when you return home at night. You should also place lighting around dark pathways, steps, water features and swimming pools to prevent any dangerous falls or loss of footing in the dark.

Motion sensor lights are usually best placed at around 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3 metres) above the ground and facing downwards. The higher the lights are placed, the wider the radius they will cover. Lights placed higher up on the wall create softer but equally distributed lights. Shadows contribute to blind spots, which means any intruders have the opportunity to conceal themselves. Too high, however, risks a couple of things. Firstly, the light cast may be too widely dispersed, meaning the areas it covers is broad but dim. In direct opposition to creating dense shadows, this causes poor coverage which is also a problem. The second is, in the case of motion-activated lights, the censor being too far away!

3. What about the neighbours?

Impeding on, or irritating your neighbours with your security light should be something you avoid. It is advisable to make sure that, when positioning your security lights, your neighbour’s movements don’t activate them. Similarly making sure your lights are located in such a way that they don’t dazzle them. Missing this detail is an easy way to receive complaints or disgruntled neighbours. Many security lights are able to be altered so if your neighbour raises an objection it should be easy to fix!

Fitting a security light

A licensed, professional electrician should only ever do the fitting of security lights. They will ensure all wiring and electrical housing units are installed safely and correctly to prevent injury and weather damage.

There are also several building and wiring regulations that licensed electricians will be familiar with. 

That said, in dealing with small lighting problems you should always be cautious. Make sure mains switches are off, and use a voltage checker to make sure there are no live currents that pose a lethal threat to you. 

It is crucial that risks are not taken with things like this. It cannot be stressed enough that this kind of work should be left to the professionals.

Outdoor Lights at Moonlight Design 

Lighting your outdoor space doesn’t only entail keeping things safe and secure. Illuminating the exterior of your home can also contribute to the overall tone of your lighting design inside. At Moonlight Design we have an incredible range of outdoor lighting for all kinds of spaces. Whether it is handsome wall bulkheads or subtle garden lighting there is a solution for you. Check out all of our offerings in our outdoor lighting.


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