There are many reasons for choosing to light the outside of our house. Often, it’s to create a lovely ambience that magnifies the beauty of the home. However, many homeowners opt for outdoor lighting not only for atmosphere but also for security.

Outdoor security lighting is essential because it deters intruders from entering your space. That’s because they recognize that they can be more easily detected and can be readily identified on security cameras when outdoor lighting is sufficient.

Security lighting can also be used for the safety of those who live in the home or those who visit. If you have particularly dark spots on your property where slip-and-fall accidents could occur, lighting could address those problems as well.

In addition, it’s important to remember that security lighting isn’t only important in neighborhoods where crime tends to be a problem. Many homeowners in so-called “safe” neighborhoods need security lights because their larger, more expensive homes can be frequent targets for burglars or vandals.

Active and passive lighting

As you consider security lighting and discuss it with a lighting expert, you’ll learn that there are two kinds of approaches to outdoor lighting – active and passive.

  • Active lighting includes motion-activated lights that go on when someone moves in the vicinity of the fixture. Active security elements can also include non-lighting pieces, such as security cameras and closed circuit televisions.
  • Passive lighting includes fixtures that are “static”. This includes light fixtures that are either on or off during certain times of the day and night. Often, they are connected to timers, which signal them to come on near sundown and go off when the sun is coming up. Non-lighting passive elements also include fences and other barriers or no trespassing signs.

Depending on the size of the home and the area to be covered, most homeowners employ a combination of both active and passive elements for their security lighting. Lighting must also be in compliance with local ordinances regarding wattage, mounting height, and other regulations, which are often imposed so that you are not infringing on other homeowner’s rights.

Why consider security lighting?

According to the Illuminating Engineering Society – an organization that is considered a top authority on lighting – security lighting should serve to anticipate potential threats and potential predators. It also helps with “target hardening”, which means that it makes it harder for a criminal to plan and execute a break-in. Burglars want to hit homes where they can be in and out in a jiffy without worrying about being caught. Good security lighting makes that difficult.

In general, however, you want to make sure that your security lighting:

  • Makes tasks easier for those who live in the house, including things like retrieving the mail after dark or simply finding keys in your purse or briefcase.
  • Provides a clear view of the area around your house including making it easy to see fences or other barriers as well as people who might be trespassing.
  • Allows for facial recognition at a distance up to about 9 meters.
  • Allows you and others to feel safe when you are outside your house, even in the dark of night or early morning
  • Establishes an occupancy pattern that discourages users from targeting a home in the first place, i.e. timed lights go on and off at certain times each day to indicate someone is home.

Designing and maintaining your security lighting

It’s best that you consult a lighting design engineer as you consider how to tackle your security lighting issues. Someone who has a wealth of experience in design can recommend the correct products for a property your size and can place the various elements of security lighting so that they do the most good and achieve what they are meant to achieve.

In addition, a lighting designer can help you achieve an overall cohesive look by matching your security lighting to your other outdoor lighting, your indoor lighting, and the style of your home. You might also be able to secure a maintenance contract with the installer which will grant them the opportunity to service your security lighting at a pre-planned time or times each year. They can check for things such as burned out or broken bulbs; damaged or broken fixtures that need replacing; bushes, trees, or other landscaping that might be obscuring the lights; dirty lenses that need cleaning; and damaged electrical components.


For more information on security lighting for your Vancouver-area home, contact the experts at Stapleton Electric at 778-985-9395.