Best Outdoor Security Lighting Strategy




PLAN THE BEST OUTDOOR SECURITY LIGHTING STRATEGY FOR YOUR BUSINESS



Enhance Security


Strategic outdoor lighting enhances security, optimizes energy usage and effectively deters criminals. To achieve these goals, install lighting that provides the right amount of illumination where and when light is needed.
 
 

STRATEGIC OUTDOOR LIGHTING

  • Lights walkways
  • Reduces shadows
  • Exposes tripping hazards
  • Integrates motion sensor lighting
  • Deters trespassers
  • Limits light pollution
  • Optimizes energy use
  • Is attractive and enjoyable
TOO MUCH LIGHT, NOT ENOUGH LIGHTING


Extensive dusk-to-dawn security lighting increases the illusion of security but does little to limit crime. Continuous illumination fails to draw attention to trespassers the way motion sensor lights do. It can even help criminals see what they are doing. It also escalates energy use and exacerbates light pollution1.

 

Pro Tip

PRO TIP:


Prevent tampering by positioning security lights out of reach and selecting lighting fixtures with protective screens or acrylic sheeting.
 
 


LIGHT FOR SAFETY & SECURITY


Proper outdoor lighting lights specific areas instead of the entire property to keeps guests, tenants and personnel safe. It deters criminals by drawing attention to their unwanted activity.

  • Light main walkways with dusk-to-dawn flood lights and area lights
  • Install wall packs to make obscured exterior walls more visible
  • Position fixtures around trees and corners to shrink areas concealed by shadows
  • Install motion sensor lighting in alleyways and back areas that illuminate when needed and deter when necessary


INSTALL Supplemental Lighting


Add aesthetics to your strategically lit outdoor areas with landscape lighting, stair lights and spotlights. Decorative luminaries look great and further reduce shadowed areas.

  • Install stair lights on steps, ramps and other tripping hazards
  • Brighten areas shadowed by signage and greenery with decorative luminaries
  • Complement your outdoor lighting design with colored LEDs
  • Make egresses easy to see with clear exit lights and signage



Test, Maintain & Replace


Test your plan frequently to ensure you maintain the best possible outdoor lighting strategy.

  • Locate security threats, like hiding places, and note where more visibility is needed
  • Trim trees, bushes and greenery to maintain your lighting strategy
  • Audit installed lamps and bulbs for lifespan and energy use
  • Look for power-hungry fixtures and plan for energy-efficient replacements
  • Plan and order replacement lighting before bulbs burn out

Energy Efficiency


Maximize the return on your lighting investments, and make minimizing energy usage part of your commercial lighting plan. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are the latest standard for efficiency2, but low pressure sodium (LPS) and high pressure sodium (HPS) lamps are still widely regarded as effective. They also have low upfront cost. Assess your fixtures, lamps and replacement cycles, compare options and plan to adopt increasingly efficient security lighting.
 
 

Energy Cost

LPS
HPS
METAL HALIDE
LED

Energy equivalent in watts

135 W

150 W

175 W

100 W

Brightness in lumens

22,000 lm

16,500 lm

14,875 lm

5,000 lm

Average cost per bulb

$59.60

$21.99

$33.97

$84.70

Bulb lifespan in hours

18,000 Hours

24,000 Hours

10,000 Hours

50,000 Hours

Energy use in watts

135 W

150 W

175 W

40 W

Estimated operating hours per year per bulb

4,100 Hours

4,100 Hours

4,100 Hours

4,100 Hours

Yearly kilowatt hours

553.5 kWh

615.0 kWh

717.5 kWh

164.0 kWh

Average price of electricity³

$0.085/kWh

$0.085/kWh

$0.085/kWh

$0.085/kWh

Electricity cost per year per bulb

$47.05

$52.28

$60.99

$13.94

Years of operation at 4,100 hours per year per bulb

4.39 Years

5.85 Years

2.44 Years

12.20 Years

Bulbs needed for 50,000 hours (1 LED bulb)

2.7

2.08

5

1

Electricity cost for 50,000 hours

$573.75

$637.50

$743.75

$170.00

Total cost* for 50,000 hours of lighting

$734.67

$683.24

$913.60

$254.70

 
*Labor not included
 

 

LED VS. HID LAMPS

 

LED

LED

ADVANTAGES

  • Extremely energy efficient
  • 180-degree lighting
  • Instant lighting with no warmup time
  • Range of colors, including pure bright white

Drawbacks

  • High upfront cost
  • Produces fewer lumens*

 

LPS

LPS

ADVANTAGES

  • Highly energy efficient
  • Omnidirectional lighting
  • Low upfront cost

DRAWBACKS

  • Pure yellow light
  • Excessive light pollution
  • Relatively large lamps
  • Long warmup time

 

HPS

HPS

ADVANTAGES

  • Moderately energy efficient
  • Omnidirectional lighting
  • Low upfront cost
  • Smaller lamps than LPS

Drawbacks

  • Deep yellow light
  • Excessive light pollution
  • Long warmup time
  • Contains hazardous metals like mercury

 

Metal Halide

Metal Halide

ADVANTAGES

  • Omnidirectional lighting
  • Intense, high-output lighting
  • Highest color rendering index

Drawbacks

  • Lowest energy efficiency
  • Extremely long warmup time
  • Relatively short lifespan
  • High UV emissions
  • Contains hazardous metals like mercury

*Lumens measure total visible light emitted and do not typically account for direction.


Additional Resources


1 International Dark Sky Association, “Light Pollution.” 2013. 
2 U.S. Department of Energy, “Top 8 Things You Didn’t Know About LEDs.” 2013. 
3 U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Electric Power Monthly.” 2019.