So you want to install security lighting to keep the villains away, how difficult can that be? Well, there are a few pitfalls that are best avoided. Here are some mistakes to dodge when securing your property.
1) Don’t be a hazard to others
Regardless of the efforts that we put in to protect our property, life goes on for everyone else around us. A lighting installation that’s directed along an access road, or situated on a bend in a road can be a deadly hazard to road users not expecting to meet a wall of floodlighting.
Keep the light within the confines of your own property and make sure that floodlights are screened from the view of anyone approaching or passing by.
2) Don’t be a nuisance to others
Mis-directed lighting can find its way in through bedroom windows, annoying the people who you really need to have on your side – your neighbours. They’re the ones who’ll contact the police if they see or hear anything dodgy, unless they’re spending all their time writing to the council to complain about your lighting.
Think about who can actually see what’s going on at your property after you’ve headed home. A lighting installation that helps neighbours to keep an eye out for intruders is free surveillance. It’s a reason for lighting from the perimeter inwards towards the building, not from the top of the building, facing outwards.
3) Avoid upwards lighting
It’s unlikely that a break-in attempt will come from the sky. Not impossible, but unlikely. Light that goes above the horizontal just spills into the sky, wasting energy and exacerbating the light pollution that’s blighting our night-time environment. At the very least, try to pretend that you care about astronomers and other nocturnal wildlife by not exacerbating the issue.
Good quality projectors will combine optical control with hoods and baffles to keep light within bounds. But remember to make sure that, once installed, projectors are directed in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations.
4) Work with your other security measures
Poorly placed floodlighting can actually help intruders conceal themselves from CCTV coverage and on-the-ground security teams. Try to avoid deep shadows and be conscious of how car parks and perimeter fences can become congested, creating hiding places for the bad guys.
If you’re combining CCTV with a security lighting installation it's vital to make sure that your lighting specification matches the requirements of your CCTV system. This may call for more uniform, but lower, lighting levels in order to balance bright and dark areas as recorded by the cameras.
5) Don’t be cheap on the hardware
There is a lot of cheap floodlighting around and you may think that you can save a lot of money by ignoring the more expensive, quality, brands. But cheap hardware will fail more often, the light output will degrade, and you’ll be left with a patchy security installation at best. And guess which route your unwanted visitors will take when only half of your compound is lit?
It really is tempting to save money on the lighting specification, but it’s a false economy. Make sure that you’re working with a respectable, and responsible, lighting installer. And be sure to get hold of manufacturers’ warranties on lighting performance and equipment quality.
6) Failures need to be put right
It is always possible that equipment can fail, so the other question concerning floodlighting you need to ask is how sensible you’ve been on the siting of equipment. Failed floodlights that can only be accessed by a cherry-picker (that you don’t keep on site) will leave you vulnerable to security lapses. This doesn’t mean that everything should be accessible from a step-ladder. It means that you need to have a strategy in place so that a failed unit can be replaced in a reasonable amount of time.
There are too many instances of security lighting failures not being picked up, and the longer it’s left – the greater the risk to your property. This can be a problem in the summer months when the property may be locked up before it gets dark. Make sure that someone is checking regularly on the lighting and be clear on who’s responsible for getting failures fixed.
7) Speak to the Local Authority
Finally, before you get started, have a word with the Local Authority. They have rules and regulations that you need to be on the right side of.
Local Authority planners can be really annoying, but not as annoying as the situation that you may find yourself in when the neighbours get together to bring an action against you. Assume that the LA planners are your friend and listen to what they have to say.
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Lux is hosting a special Lighting for Warehouses and Distribution Centres conference in Amsterdam on Thursday 29 September and Friday 30 September. It's free for all those involved with the management of storage and distribution. To view the details and register for a free place, click on the conference logo here.