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Sustainable Security Light


Important Information

  • Outdoor security light: Light to enhance safety and well-being outside
  • Purchasing: Be sure to purchase security light fixtures from a reputable manufacturer


Initial Cost: How much will the security light cost to buy?


Ongoing Cost: Consult with an electrician who can advise you about planning and can provide installation. How much will the wiring and electrician cost? Keep in mind that solar powered fixtures have low installation costs. Consider maintenance... will you need help changing the bulbs?


Energy Cost: How much will the energy use cost? Energy costs vary for different types of bulbs. Look for solar models when appropriate. They have zero or very low energy costs. CFLs and LEDs have low energy costs.


Controls: Both manual and automatic activation options are available. Controls include switching, bi-level switching, timers, dimming, and motion detectors. Watch out for controls that are "too sensitive," such as some motion detectors. You may want to override automatic controls for security light from inside your home. Controls can save on energy costs by turning light on only when needed.


Area Covered: An even wash of light at key locations outside your home is recommended. Consider security light to meet your needs in front, back, and side yards. Also consider doors and windows. Think about garages and barns, as well.


Remember: More and brighter light does not necessarily create security. Consider how light fixtures, locations, and controls can help you see your property and detect intruders.


Table 1. Outdoor Security Light Source Comparison

  Wall Mounted Flood Lights Floodlight Alternates Pole Fixtures Decorative or Landscape Fixtures
Area Covered Up to 180 degrees Up to 180 degrees Up to 360 degrees Up to 180 degrees
Fixture Costs Low Low to high Medium to high Low to high
Installation Costs Low to medium Medium to high High Low to high
Energy Use Varies Varies Varies Varies
Image  A wall mounted flood light set.  A floodlight.  A pole light fixture.  A decorative fixture.


When Considering Bulbs...

  • Specific types of security lights are made for incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), and light emitting diodes (LEDs).
  • Look at the packaging to see what type of bulb to buy.


Choose the security light that is right for you!

  • People living alone or in higher crime areas may have special security light needs.
  • Almost any type of outdoor light fixture can act as a security light.


Paulette Hebert, Ph.D.


Design, Housing, & Merchandising


Gina Peek, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Extension Specialist

Housing & Consumer


Mihyun Kang, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Design, Housing & Merchandising

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