Outdoor Lighting Design

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A number of years ago, a young boy was taken from his home in the middle of the night in a near by community. It's hard to imagine of a bigger nightmare for a family. He was thankfully found unharmed and the perpetrator was arrested. Later that summer a door to door home security salesman came to our home and yup, we signed up, believing that a home security system would help to protect our family and our belongings.

We are not alone. Home security solutions in the US has increased by almost $1 billion USD in the last 5 years approaching $4.69 billion USD in 2017 according to Statista.com.
The top three crimes people worry about the most are often related to online activity, identity theft, email hacking and stolen credit numbers. After that, home burglary when you are not home, is next on the list before car theft and getting mugged.

Often considered to be the first and most simplistic approach to home security is exterior lighting, but how effective is it at deterring a robbery? Is that it's main purpose?

After reading the research presented by The Crime Prevention Website's article on The Benefits and Limitations of External Lighting it made me reconsider what the purpose of external lighting is for my home and family. The article brings to light (pardon the pun) the reality of how effective external lighting is at actually protecting my home and to its real purpose.

The reality is that exterior lighting is more for the home owner and their safety in and around the house at night, than it is for burglary prevention. In fact, the question to ask oneself as presented in The Benefits and Limitations of External Lighting:

"Who will benefit from this particular exterior light the most, the home owner or the burglar?"

For example we have motion lights on our detached garage, but the lights around the man doors are behind a 6 ft solid fence. If the lights turn on due to a burglar the light will actually make it easier for the burglar to do their work and not actually make them visible to a passing car or my neighbors due to the fence. So what's the benefit to having the lights in these locations? Well for safety for my family and I as we go to and from the garage at night. Ultimately not for burglary prevention.

So how do you use external lighting effectively? It can be broken down to these three considerations:
  1. Security
    • Lighting can be effective at home security, however it is not external lighting, it's internal lighting.  
    • Think Home Alone, the movie, when Kevin pretends there is a party inside? The appearance that someone is home due to interior lights being on, is more of a deterrent then outside lights. 
    • Exterior lights that illuminate an area that CAN be seen by someone else (neighbor etc.) or an area protected by a camera can be effective at crime prevention according to The Crime Prevention Website.
    • The key is to give the impression that someone is home. 
    • Remember, most home robberies occur during the day while the home owners are at work and school. Growing up, my neighbors home was robbed three times in one year, each time during the work day. 
  2. Safety
    • Illuminating pathways and entrances.
    • Ensuring stairs are adequately lit to prevent tripping and/or falling.
    • Motion lights can be effective in areas that are not occupied such as out buildings as they turn on as you approach. 
    • As we installed in our previous home, lights placed on a solar sensor can turn on all exterior lights from dusk to dawn. Having lights on throughout the night is less of a concern today when we have access to low wattage LED's that run at 4-6 Watts vs 40-60 Watts per bulb prior. 
  3. Home design
    • Entrances, patios, decks, architectural features can be highlighted with the right fixture that also serves multiple roles such as security, ambient and/or task lighting.

    • directional wall sconces can create up or down light to focus light in key areas such as walkways or architectural designs. 
    • As traditional wall sconces are available in limitless design styles and colors, they can add character to entrances, patios or decks. 
As discussed in previous blog posts,  RENOS - WHERE TO START #4 It's Gotta Function and RENOS - WHERE  TO START #2 What was I trying to accomplish?, when you are about to make those important investments into your home, ensure you have a clear understanding as to the purpose for those changes to ensure you get out what you put into your projects.

Thanks for stopping by!

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