Security and safety are two major uses for exterior lighting. Because they are similar in nature, they can often be accomplished at the same time using the same lighting fixtures. Security lighting deters vandalism and home invasion; safety lighting, on the other hand, protects homeowners and their guests from injuries caused by trips and falls in dark locations.
Yard lights can be utilized for security lighting. These lights can be purchased or rented from the electric utility company and are normally high-intensity discharge fixtures. The lamp choices may be either high-pressure sodium or metal halide bulbs. The HPS bulbs will emit a yellow to orange light, while the metal halide bulbs will emit a blue to white light. Yard lights are generally mounted on tall poles to illuminate large areas. They can also be mounted on taller outbuildings.
HPS bulbs are less glaring to the eyes, making it easier to see and identify objects. This is one reason that high-pressure and low-pressure sodium bulbs are used along streets and highways. One drawback to the HPS is that colors are not well defined or easy to distinguish. Therefore, if color recognition is important, then metal halide bulbs are better suited for the task. One drawback to using HID lighting is that the bulbs must cool down before they can relight. Short power outages of a few minutes can render the light inoperable for as long as 20 minutes.
Security lighting should be mounted high enough to prevent tampering. Security lights can also be protected by a plastic guard or metal mesh cage. A higher mounting location also works well for most safety lighting. While spotlights can be used, floodlights are normally used, as they will illuminate a larger area. Some areas that should be illuminated are yard areas close to the house, fenced-in yards and driveways.
When placing and aiming exterior lights, they should illuminate the homeowner’s property; however, they should not shine through the neighbors windows. While the initial adjustments can be made during the day, fine-tuning should be done after dark. If used with security cameras, lights should be placed and adjusted to prevent excessive glaring and shadows.