Dusk to Dawn Lighting
Dusk to Dawn Lighting

Many people believe that a simple way to enhance home security is to provide lighting during dark hours. This practice derives from the mentality that lighting enhances security by depriving burglars and others of the cover of darkness. Thus, some homeowners have used dusk-to-dawn lighting to provide lighting during these hours.

Design Options for Outdoor Dusk to Dawn Lighting

Many homeowners today employ automatic systems in which the lighting is set to timers which automatically turn the systems on and off at certain hours. Others use light-sensitive "photo-eyes" to detect levels of light and darkness and thus trigger the lighting systems. In addition to standard, pole-mounted lights, yardlights, and mini-wallpacks may also be used.

These lighting systems may feature:

  • Fluorescent
  • Incandescent
  • Low or high-pressure sodium
  • Mercury vapor
  • Metal halide

Choices of lighting source depend on your particular circumstances. Light intensity is measured in lumens, so you may want to check with the lumen output of your fixture when deciding which one to use.

Fluorescent and incandescent bulbs are inexpensive and widely available, but have short life spans and incandescent bulbs do not project much light. Mercury-vapor lights are more powerful and efficient in terms of lumen-output per watt-consumption than fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, but they also generate heat and glare. Since mercury is a poisonous substance, there is a substantial danger due to misuse.

Metal-halide lights are in some ways a more intense version of mercury vapor. They are even more efficient and more powerful than mercury vapor and they generate more heat and require more maintenance. Low-pressure sodium uses energy efficiently but its soft glow may not be desirable for security purposes as these bulbs do allow minimal visible discernment of objects.

Some people prefer assert that high-pressure sodium lights save power and indeed it emits powerful light, but it may be too intense for some homeowners and using lower wattage may not result in optimal energy usage. A newer technology is induction lighting which utilizes magnetic fields and gas discharges. However, this technology is costly to install, despite its high energy efficiency. It may be attractive for wealthier homeowners with large lots.

Although standard lighting fixtures are generally lack aesthetic details, many homeowners purchase fixtures with artistic design. For example, a popular and attractive lighting fixture is the candlestick lantern, found in many locations.

Maintenance of Exterior Lighting

As longer-lasting and more powerful lights are more expensive, consumers should buy lights based on how long they intend to use these features or inhabit the dwelling. It is also best to buy rust-resistant fixtures especially in humid areas.

Special Arrangements for Dusk to Dawn Lighting

Some jurisdictions encourage the implementation of dusk to dawn lighting to encourage more security in communities. Municipalities such as Mesa, Arizona offer agreements in which the municipalities install and maintain the lighting and lease it to homeowners.

Alternatively some municipalities, such as Anaheim, California provide the lighting fixture to the homeowner.

Criticisms of Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting represents a popular solution to security due in large part to a common familiarity with these systems. Nevertheless, many debate the effectiveness and impacts of these systems.

First, some experts dispute the claim that these systems increase security because there is no change in timing routine for the lighting. Thus, neighbors and passers-by do not perceive anything unusual in a house and yard that are always lit. These systems usually operate at high cost, as much as three times to operate the system as to purchase it.

Also, the systems tend "waste" light by spreading it over areas where it may not be required or desired. Light "trespasses" into neighbors' yards, causes glare for neighbors and in adjoining public areas. Many people also decry high-intensity lighting systems' contribution to urban "sky glare," in which the light travels up vertically as a form of visual pollution.

Some companies have invented remedies for some of these problems. Glare and waste can be controlled through caps which control sky glare but still cover much ground area. "Shoeboxes"cover less ground and may be a better solution where light may intrude into a neighbor's yard.