There are two types of sensor typically used with (or to activate) outdoor security lights: PIR sensor and photocell (commonly called a dusk-to-dawn sensor). The PIR sensor is essentially a motion sensor that detects changes in IR radiation. Any movement within a given range triggers light for a short, often adjustable duration. A photocell measures ambient light levels and triggers light on and off at dusk and dawn, respectively. This creates the impression that a property may be occupied, which can act as a useful deterrent.
Evidence does suggest that people feel safer at night in well lit public places when they can see everything around them and it is probably true that the same can be said about your home - you can look out onto your lit back garden from the safety of an upstairs window or the patio doors and see what's going on in your garden or outside your front door late at night.
Another way that external lighting may help is if the presence of the light convinces a would-be criminal that what he is about to do will be seen by you or your neighbours or a CCTV camera. Evidence suggests that it is the combination of the security light with an increased chance of the criminal being seen/recorded that acts as a deterrent.
Perhaps the biggest stumbling block when explaining the benefits of having security lighting installed is the cost. In addition to the initial installation, many people may be concerned about the added cost to their energy bills. This is particularly true if someone is thinking of having the type of lighting which remains on permanently. Electricity bills are almost certain to soar with this type of lighting. A far more effective alternative is to have motion-detection lighting installed and more effective still would be to use solar-powered motion detection security lighting.
As this type of lighting will only come on when any movement is detected in the target area, you can be assured that your energy bills will not rise by a substantial amount if at all (when using solar power). In fact, people with security lighting installed may actually save money in certain areas. Insurance premiums, for example, could be reduced with the addition of outdoor security lighting.
The many benefits that come with having security lighting installed in domestic and commercial properties far outweigh any initial costs that may arise. After all, who wouldn't want the peace of mind that comes with knowing their family and loved ones are safe and sound?
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