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Protecting What's Valuable

Protecting What's Valuable

At this home in the city of Del Mar, California, Falling Waters Landscape, a residential design/build firm in nearby Solana Beach, immersed the front door, garage door and large Torrey pine tree in light, which allows the homeowner easy

Keeping properties, and more importantly the people in and around them, secure is high on the list of priorities for most property owners, and landscape lighting can be an essential aid in achieving that.

Kyle Lemmon, writing for, an independent review site that bills itself as an all-encompassing security resource, refers to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina, Charlotte's department of criminal justice and criminology, of over 400 incarcerated burglars who were asked, among other things, what might deter them from committing their crimes. A very common answer was "a lack of hiding spots available on well-lit properties."

A.J. Coleman, a lighting designer at McKay Landscape Lighting in Omaha, Nebraska, advises "We always try to highlight dark areas. We don't want any (dark areas) near windows that intruders could bust out and hop in."

Coleman also recommends highlighting the front entry so that everyone knows where the front door is and so that the homeowner can see out.
"We're very conscious that when we place lights up next to the house that they shine straight up," he added. "That way we're not pointing at any window inside the house, or shooting any light back towards the street or into someone else's house."

For homes that have trees near the entry, Coleman recommends adding downlights to illuminate the surrounding areas.

Protecting What's Valuable

Protecting What's Valuable

McKay Landscape Lighting from Omaha, Nebraska, installed a series of low voltage LEDs in the front and back of this residence. While the backyard installation with colored lights and fire features, strikingly transformed the landscape for nighttime enjoyment, the lights in the front yard emphasized security.

Indirect lighting can also be used to add to the security of a property. On the Illuminating Engineering Society's website, lighting designer Kimberly Mercier, PE, P.Eng., the managing principal of Lighting Design Innovations (, gave a presentation with her husband Paul Mercier, MS, LC, who is also the company's design principal, in which she referenced the concept of transfer of illumination - using reflected light to expose critical areas without direct light on those areas.

Floodlights are often selected because their powerful, widespread beams illuminate large areas. But for lighting design professionals, the consideration of overall aesthetics sometimes means units with narrower beams are preferred. The range of illumination, or the distance that a fixture casts light, is dependent on the size of the area requiring the illumination.

Nowadays, solar floodlights are available, which are even more energy efficient but they typically don't generate as many lumens - the actual light produced by the lamps, which, one could surmise, should be paid more attention to than the wattage of the lamps when lighting for security purposes. Lemmon advises that for "widespread light for a backyard or driveway, you need something with high lumens:" 700 or more.

Motion sensor activated lights have been around for a while and provide a good tradeoff between energy efficiency and security. And they are constantly evolving.

As for motion sensor range, Lemmon says that the "ideal...for an open area security light is at least 40 feet."

Protecting What's Valuable

Concealed LED strip-lights, linear in-grades, floodlights and exterior tape accents not only bring out the clean geometric lines of this home in Huntington Beach, California, they provide ample illumination of the doors and windows.

Protecting What's Valuable

The pavilion and gazebo at the San Marino residence are illuminated fully and evenly so when the homeowners are enjoying them at night, their safety is enhanced, and when looking out at them from inside, have a clear view of any questionable activity.

Our research showed that some sensors can detect motion within a 180-degree wide zone.

Other things to look for on motion sensors is an automatic shut-off control that activates after a given amount of time to conserve energy and an integrated photosensor to ensure that the fixture does not operate during daylight hours.

Lighting timers can be added to a system that can even be activated through cell phones or tablets, and can be set so that different zones turn on and off and different times.

Some more modern advancements include fixtures that have two-level brightness that increase light output the closer someone gets to it, three-sided LED lights for better coverage, wireless fixtures with rechargeable batteries (one such product states that each charge provides up to 90 one-minute activations), and solar-powered units - some with an integrated panel and some with a separate one.

There are also motion sensing, motion activated light sockets that screw into any existing light socket and accept an LED with an E26 base. And then there are LED bulbs themselves with built-in motion detectors and photocell sensors, which could be perfect for carriage light fixtures, porch lights and such.
And finally, though not lighting technology, motion-detecting cameras can be installed that can communicate with mobile devices and the internet to send alerts to property owners and let them "keep an eye" on their homes and businesses when they are away.

As seen in LC/DBM magazine, November 2018.

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October 19, 2019, 8:31 am PDT

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