DIY Exterior Security Lights
Security lights are great at preventing thieves and mischievous kids from visiting your home. They come in many styles, colors and are inexpensive. Motion activated lights are easy to connect and
involve the same three wires as indoor light fixtures. Simply wire, adjust the lamps and settings on the sensors and you’re done. Most use halogen lights that I buy extra to have on hand. I set these to stay on for a minute with maximum range. They tend to light up falsely when there is wind and rain, but bulbs last a long time. Motion lights give you immediate view of potential problems and help to see door locks late at night. I focus on open areas, carports, and doors for best results at night.
DIY Security: Exterior Lighting
When you hear about home security, you may think of deadbolts
and window locks. But there is more you can do to make improvements to help keep your home and family safe. Here is a comprehensive look at why exterior lighting is a key component of any home security and burglar alarm system, and exactly how you can go about lighting the exterior of your house and property to further discourage would-be burglars.
Why Exterior Lighting?
Burglars are opportunists, which means they'll take an easy target over a difficult target nearly every time. When the exterior of your home and yard is dark, filled with shadows and blind spots after the sun goes down, many burglars see this as an invitation to get a closer look at your house. After all, they will have plenty of hiding
places and if they're wearing dark clothing they'll be very hard to spot.
Keeping them off your property and away from your house is the primary goal with exterior lighting, and as such each potential point-of-access and dark, shadowy area needs to be illuminated.
Take a Nighttime Survey
The best way to discover where to place exterior lighting is to walk your property a night. Moonless nights work best as your most vulnerable spots will be most obvious. Armed with a good flashlight, walk around the perimeter of your house, and then your property.
Begin your excursion with the flashlight turned off. Wherever you're forced to turn on the light because it's too dark to proceed is a potential hiding and lurking place for a burglar. Areas of your house and property not easily seen from your primary entry points—front and back doors—are areas most likely in need of illumination. Consider these areas the equivalent of blind spots in your rearview mirror while driving on thefreeway.
Other areas that should automatically be illuminated include front and back doors, garages, and exterior structures, like detached garages,workshops,and storage sheds.
Motion-sensing exterior lighting is exactly the right technology
for your home security scheme. Motion sensors detect movement when any particular security zone is breach. Instantly, the floodlights turn on and the intended area is illuminated. Burglars don't like to suddenly be in spotlight, and will typically flee the property.
Your attention to exterior security lighting is a clue to most burglars that your home security preparedness will most likely get stronger the closer they get to your home, which means there are easier targets for them to find. No burglar wants to discover, after it's too late, that your home
is protected by a professionally installed home security and burglar alarm
Motion-sensing lights also have to added advantage of saving you
money on your electric bill by not being required to be on all night. A note of caution, however, is in order. Don't opt for solar lighting for this type of
home security scheme. Through a test administered by Consumer Reports, it was shown they're not bright enough to properly illuminate your various security zones.
Installing Exterior Lighting
Tools and supplies needed:
A ladder (if necessary)
Wire connectors, sometimes referred to as wire nuts
Note of caution: Locate the breaker switch that will kill the power to the junction box where you will be installing your lighting. Live wires can be very dangerous and can lead to serious injuries if not properly handled.
Exterior lighting is typically no more challenging to install than an interior
light. They come pre-wired, generally included a mounting bracket, and can
be completed with minimal tools and supplies you're likely to have on-hand.
The exterior of your home is likely already wired for lighting. Porch
lights, or access boxes for them, are usually in place above garages as
well as front and back doors. As your remove the existing lamp, note
the wires and how they're already attached. Your exterior lighting will be no more challenge, and will most likely include three wires: black, white, and green.
Once the old fixture is removed, connect each wire to its corresponding color from the house to theexterior light. These have pretty much
been standardized to avoid confusion and improper installation. The instructions included with your new light fixture will provide illustrations, diagrams, and exactinstructions.
Most security lighting can be successfully installed in a matter of minutes. Be certain to use the silicone caulk where the base of the fixture meets the house. This will protect it from the elements.
Exterior lighting is just one way to help secure your home though. Check out this page for information on improving other areas like garage security, sliding glass doors, and more.