Electrical Installation: Outdoor Security Lights and Cameras
Outdoor lighting around your home can be multifunctional: it can highlight architectural features, make the environment feel safe for your family and friends and can deter intruders. The security aspect can be enhanced with the addition of cameras. As with any external electrical installation, there are several important aspects to consider when planning security measures.
The positioning of lights and cameras is key. They should be placed above all the entrances to your property, including the garage. Be careful not to create additional areas of shadow where someone could easily hide from view. Equipment needs to be fixed high enough so it cannot be vandalized or tampered with and should be protected from the elements and any animals that might interfere with its effectiveness.
The detection zone of lights and cameras activated by motion sensors needs to be
set at the correct range so they are not inadvertently activated by passing cars or a prowling cat. Lights also need shielding so that they do not create glare zones in which intruders can be difficult to see and which can disturb your neighbors.
Although solar powered lighting offers a cost effective option with minimal running costs, there is no guarantee that the lights will absorb sufficient energy during daylight hours in the winter months to ensure they can function all through the night. So it is better to leave solar lighting for decorative effect but to use electric lights wired into your home’s supply when dealing with security.
If you are worried about the possibility of intruders at night, you will need to obtain cameras especially designed for recording in low light. Cameras can be set up to transmit their images wirelessly to your TV or computer, or you can record the images for viewing later. You can even have a system installed which allows you to view recordings over the internet when you are away from home, which provides added peace of mind when you are on vacation.
These days there are various control systems available which offer so much more than the original on off switches. A timer is a commonly used method of control and it has several advantages, but timers require periodic adjustment to take account of the changing seasons and it can be a waste of energy for lights to burn all night when they are not needed.
Sensors are often the best option. There are sensors which react to light levels, sometimes called daylight sensors, as well as motion and thermal sensors all of which switch lights and cameras on when certain levels of light, heat or movement are detected.
In some situations, a combination can be the most appropriate with, for example, a low level of light operated by a timer or a daylight sensor and then brighter lights activated by motion. Modern lights and cameras can not only be activated by motion but can also rotate to track that motion as whoever it is moves across or around your property.
Any outdoor lights and cameras should be run from a circuit protected by a ground-fault circuit interrupter or GFCI. As with any electrical work, safety precautions are paramount when setting up external security systems. If you are considering a significant electrical installation, it is advisable to call in a professional licensed electrician to undertake the job. You can then be assured the work will be completed in a way that conforms to code and will not cause additional problems in the future.