Installing Security Lighting

Installing security lights is quite straightforward so long as they are on the house wall since they can be wired up as an extension of your existing indoor circuits. Lights on the ground must have their own circuit.

You could simply switch them on at dusk and off at dawn (if you turn them off at bedtime, you lose the deterrent effect), or fit a photoelectric switch which will do the same thing automatically. But a better and less expensive solution is to have the lights controlled by a movement detector which switches them on when it detects an intruder within its field of view. The sudden burst of light will be an unexpected surprise that will quickly have him scurrying for cover. A built-in timer then turns the light off again after a preset time, avoiding any unnecessary waste of electricity. Most models have a light-sensitive switch so they can be operated only at night.

Planning Outside Lighting

You need to light up all possible approach routes to your house. Remember that outside lighting has other benefits apart from the caring burglars; you do not have to approach your front door in the dark, and it shows that we are visitors too. You will be able to see your way to the dustbin, the garage of the garden shed, and even enjoy the garden after dark.

Start at the front door. You need a low-level fitting here so you can see to unlock the door and to identify callers. Depending on the size of your front garden and the degree of illumination this light provides, you may also need a high-level light to illuminate the whole front garden, not just the vicinity of the door itself. Check that this will not dazzle drivers.

At the back of the house, you need a high-level light to deter anyone entering the property from that direction. You may also want less bright low-level lights for illuminating the patio.

If there is access down either side of your house, it pays to have lights there too, but check that the lights will not bother your neighbours. A light on the corner of the house may be able to cast its light along two walls.

Lights to illuminate a long drive or front path must have their own circuit unless they are the low-voltage type; the latter is in any case not really bright enough to use as security lighting.

Use a garage inspection lamp with a long lead to work out the ideal position for the various fittings, aiming to create overlapping pools of light that eliminate any areas of shadow where a burglar could approach the house unseen.

Choosing The Fittings

A wide range of styles is available. Choose decorative types of lighting for up front doors and patios in low-level positions where the fitting will be a feature of the building and more functional types installed at a high level for deterring burglars. The fittings available fall into three main groups:
those taking a standard tungsten lamp (or a compact fluorescent lamp; these are ideal for outdoor use because of the long life)
those taking sealed spotlights, and
those with a halogen tube (far too powerful for most properties unless there are extensive grounds)

Choosing The Controls

You can control your outside lighting with manual or photoelectric switches, but movement detectors (PIR or passive infra-red detectors) are much more practical. You can buy fittings in a range of styles that incorporate their own detector, or fit a separate sensor that controls one or more lights – generally, a cheaper option, especially when you’re ready have the lights and simply want to bring them under PIR control.

When buying such detectors, either separately or combined with a light fitting, check the field of view and detection range so you can select one that suits your property. Other features to look for include the option of manual override by a separate switch, a variable lamp-on time and ease of changing the lamp.

With most movement detectors, it is possible for a burglar to sidle up to the detector and mask it without triggering the lights if you can reach the unit. He may also be able to reach and sever any surface mounted cables. You should, therefore, aim to site it at least 2.4 m above the ground.

Fitting The Lights

First, work out which indoor circuit you will extend to provide power for the new fittings. Check what wattage your lighting circuits are currently supplying. If they are close to the limit of 1150Watts per circuit, you should not extend them, especially if you’re running powerful floodlights. The alternative is to wire up a fused spur from one of your circuit power sockets. If you have a separate upstairs circuit, use that; it will be less heavily loaded than the downstairs circuit, and the wiring is at a more convenient level for supplying light fittings installed at eaves level.

Take cable to each fitting through a hole drilled in the house wall, ideally immediately behind the light position so the cable will be completely concealed. Make the connections, mount the fitting on the wall and waterproof around its base plate with silicone mastic.

If you are using a movement detector, adjust the unit to give the optimum coverage. Check that it will not be activated by pedestrians or cars passing your property.

Contact IFireUK Ltd on 0330 121 1234