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Here’s how proper lighting can enhance home security

(Shuttershock Photo)

Your home is your biggest asset. Keep it, yourself, your family and contents safe from intruders.

Between January 1 and December 31, 2018, The Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Crime In Arizona reported the following:
• There were 29,986 burglaries statewide.
• Forcible entry was used in 16,404, or 54.7 percent of the total burglaries.
• Residential burglaries accounted for 20,529 or 68.46 percent of the total burglaries.
• The total value of property stolen amounted to $44,273,681.
• Residential burglaries accounted for the highest property loss of $31,503,625.

Sobering statistics. So how do you keep your property from becoming a statistic? Jared Wright, owner of Tekna Security & Smarthome, LLC, a Rosie Certified Partner, suggests upgrading your security lighting.

Motion Sensors

“Motion lights are the best way to go,” said Wright.

Motion sensors illuminate an area only when they sense movement and will shut off automatically when the movement stops. With built-in motion sensors, the lights will only turn on if motion is triggered near the light. If you want the light to turn on sooner, consider installing your motion sensor in a corner closer to the front of the building. This will trigger the motion sensor earlier rather than halfway down the wall. You can also adjust the sensitivity settings for cars, people, or the random squirrel skittering by.

Outdoor motion-sensing lights are an economical alternative to outdoor floodlights that stay on until you manually turn them off. Look for an outdoor light that allows you to time how long the light shines when motion is detected to save energy and money. Some lights are equipped with settings for one, five, or 10 minutes to shine light before shutting off. Wire an override switch to manually turn the lights on and off.

Spotlight vs. Floodlight

A spotlight casts a narrow beam of light, usually no wider than 45 degrees. It focuses on one specific area like a work truck in the driveway that you want to protect. The light is more concentrated and easier to point and control. A floodlight can spread a beam of light up to 120 degrees. It can illuminate a larger amount of space with the same wattage and lumen output as a spotlight.

Floodlights in general are more user-friendly. Wright suggests mounting a motion floodlight where the basic front door light is because the wiring is already there. If you want lights in other locations that are not wired, you will need to hire a licensed electrician.

Wright noted that it’s hard to “mess up” floodlights unless they are kept on too long and then don’t activate for the next person. “Why have a security light if it’s going to be on all night? When someone else walks up, it won’t light up.”

For example, say a package is delivered at night. After five minutes the light will go off. Then a few minutes later someone else comes up and the light will switch back on. Good or bad intentions, that person will be jarred and think they are being watched.

In Wright’s experience, few break-ins happen through the front door. It’s the side gates that need to be lit up with motion lights. It is worth noting that leaving lights on all night is not much of a deterrent.

Unless you are landing a commercial airplane in your driveway, you don’t need to light up your whole house. Focus light on the areas you want to illuminate such as entryways, patios, side and back gates, trees, shrubs, garage, and blind spots.

From a design standpoint, it looks nice to have the lights evenly spaced apart. However, shadows and dark areas in between fixtures may indicate the lights are spaced too far apart. Conversely, fixtures placed too close together can cause glare and waste light. Paths, sidewalks, parking lots, should be uniformly lit, without bright or dark spots. It’s important to flood the area with evenly distributed light, especially for security cameras or where people will be driving.

Concentrate the light to reduce light pollution. See the stars, by installing shielded overhead security lighting.

Automatic Timers & Photocells

Automatic timers control the outdoor lights so that they turn on and off at specified times. Photocells should be installed at the best angle to catch changes in light as the sun sets and rises. Both of these options will save energy and money on your electric bill. Keep in mind, any extra controls like photocells or motion sensors may not be able to be installed directly on your flood light fixture. Therefore, you may have to mount these devices separately.

Just in case there’s an outage, consider an outdoor light with a backup power source such as a rechargeable battery to help protect your home without worry if it’s hardwired. Choose energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs, LEDs (light-emitting diodes), or solar-powered floodlights, which rarely need replacing. Check all lighting before leaving for vacation to ensure lights come on while you are away for an extended period of time.

“For random crimes, a light would be a deterrent,” said Wright. “But if someone knows you are on vacation or is watching the home, lights alone are not going to do a thing.”

The most effective burglary deterrent is maintaining a good relationship with your neighbors. Neighbors watching out for neighbors is a tried and true method of home security.

For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 35 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the Rosie on the House radio program from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturdays on KTAR-FM (92.3) in Phoenix, 9 to 11 a.m. on KAFF-AM (930) in Flagstaff, and 10 to 11 a.m. on KNST-AM (790) in Tucson.

Rosie on the House

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