Around 412BC, Euripides wrote “The day is for honest men, the night for thieves.” Bad guys usually do not like to be seen doing bad things and security lighting can help to ruin their nights.
Where To Deploy Security Lighting
Security lighting is most beneficial when used on doors, windows and pathways. It is also useful in parking areas, which provide many opportunities for attackers to hide. The same is true for garbage bins or other outdoor storage areas.
Lights should be placed carefully, to avoid creating dark corners where an attacker can hide. Lighting should be soft and even across the targeted environment.
Where Not To Deploy Security Lighting
Unwise use of lighting can actually reduce security. Municipalities have discovered that unnecessary lighting in public areas attracts undesirable people to those areas and actually increases crime.
Glare is a major concern with security lighting, because high-intensity security lights can often create areas of space which are too well lit. This makes it difficult to see into those areas, and also destroys night vision — making it more difficult to see in other areas.
You want to be careful to apply sufficient light to create visibility, but not so much light as to reduce visibility. This usually involves installing a larger number of small lights instead of a few large units. It can also help to install filters to diffuse the glow from high-intensity lights.
An Exception to the Anti-Glare Rule
There is one exception to the anti-glare rule, and that is when lighting is used as an offensive but non-lethal weapon. Extremely strong lights can be used to blind attackers. These lights are not turned on until an attacker is spotted, then the person is blinded with disorienting bright light.
Protecting Security Lighting
An intelligent attacker will attempt to damage or disable your lighting system. Lights can be placed high out of reach and they can be protected behind wire screens or durable plastic housings. The electrical supply powering the lights must also be protected. One axe blow to an unprotected power main could bring down your entire security lighting system.
Timed Lighting and Photocells
For energy savings, security lighting can be configured to turn itself on and off at certain times of day. Alternatively, photocells can be used to enable security lighting to turn itself on automatically at dusk and off at dawn.
Motion sensors can be used to turn on security lighting when motion is detected. The lights then stay on for a certain amount of time after the motion stops. These systems are not usually very sensitive and can often be defeated by a patient attacker.
Security lighting should be placed to complement, not obstruct, security cameras.
Security lighting illuminates the bad guys and the good guys equally. This isn’t always what you want. You should know your environment better than an attacker, so you may have an advantage in the dark. In addition, if you own night vision equipment, you can illuminate the environment for yourself and not for the bad guys. This can create an enormous advantage for you.