Burglars and thieves love to operate under the cover of darkness. Even if someone sees them, they can be hard to identify, especially if they are wearing a hooded sweatshirt. The easiest way to discourage them is with motion activated lights. These lights are particularly useful at startling intruders, and alerting yourself or your neighbors to movements around your property. They also use power very sparingly because they only light up when something is moving and then turn off after a set time of no more movement (usually 1 minute). Here are some aspects to look for among the huge array of options in this aspect of home security lights.
The sensor is the most important aspect of these lights. You want the light to illuminate as someone crosses onto your property but before they get to the house, or the cover of your bushes or trees. Some burglars will sneak around or under the sensor and unscrew the light bulbs, disable the unit or even steal your security light altogether. There are vandal resistant options, or you can cover them with a metal mesh, but usually it is just easier to keep it up and out of their reach. If you place them too high, however, you will need a sensor that can “see” further. Good units have a range of at least 30 feet or 10 meters. Some dome-shaped sensors can detect movement both side-to-side and up and down.
The best motion sensor light is the RAB Super Stealth 360. It is made of durable steel construction, has two independent flood lights and sports two excellent sensors, a long-distance forward facing sensor that reaches out to 60 feet along a 180 degree sweep, and a downward facing 360 degree sensor to keep anything from sneaking up underneath or behind. The sensor is designed not to be set off by blowing trees, but you can adjust the sensitivity if that is still a problem. There are two independent flood lights with up to 150 Watts apiece that require power from your conventional house electric wiring (110V AC). Each unit costs $95 but you can find it for as little as $82 apiece. You can wire other standard lights to also turn on with this sensor, up to 1000 watts total. Some people reports using LED bulbs without issue.
Solar powered security lights are very popular right now since they can go up anywhere and only rely on the sun for their daily power needs. Some of them put out a dim glow all night and turn bright when they sense movement. Even with LED lights, however, they have limited power and often put out 1000 lumens, or as much as one flood light bulb. There are hundreds of different lights from dozens of manufacturers, but unfortunately none of them seem made to last. Most use Ni-MH rechargeable batteries and are made out of high-density plastic instead of steel or aluminum. Here are the best options I have found thus far:
Litom Solar Lights are the best value for the price. They have various sizes from 8 LED for walkway lighting up to the 102 LED wall mounted light that puts out 1500 lumens for only $36. But even with this large size most people use two to light up the side of a typical house. The solar panels are built into the sloping top, so they do not perform as well on north facing walls. The sensor is accurate to 26 ft, but some complain that large items like cars will set it off from 30 ft away. These lights have over a thousand positive reviews on Amazon. The only downside is that the lithium ion battery is not meant to be easily replaced and the company only stands behind the product for 3 years, though most last for much longer.
For north facing walls or shaded areas, I recommend the “ANKO 182 LED Security Light" with a detached solar panel that can be mounted toward the sun up to 16 feet away. The sensor is good up to 30 feet and the lithium ion batteries are easily replaced. At $47 this is a good option for those dark areas with little traffic that a thief might prefer. The eLEDing “Smart” light has a bigger solar array to power its 1200 lumen motion light for only $56.
If you just want to use your existing exterior lights consider LED bulbs with motion sensors integrated into the top of the bulb. The sensors work best when the top of light bulb is pointed toward the source of motion, such as when you walk beneath a can light. There is also an adapter with a motion sensor for any typically sized light bulb that fits between the light bulb and the fixture that would be ideal for clear glass exterior fixtures. Neither of these options work in frosted enclosures.
Take steps now to put lights up on your property where burglars or animals might prowl. If it doesn’t frighten them away, at least it will give you a warning and highlight the intruder for you.