Proper Lighting for Effective Security|
Whether it is a warehouse or a stand alone store, securing your place of business is a critical concern that should never be the subject of compromise. Would be thieves and vandals are constantly on the lookout for any easy target and an isolated building in a dimly lit area represents a prime location for criminal mischief to take place. In addition to the criminal element that businesses must constantly be aware of are the loiterers and occasional vagrants who tend to seek out poorly lit structures and frequent them as temporary havens. Dealing with all of these potential activities is a constant challenge for commercial and private businesses and finding effective ways to address them make up an entire industry unto itself.
Of all the ways to deter unwanted nighttime activities on privately owned properties, lighting is perhaps the most straightforward and cost effective of them all. A well illuminated property presents an uninviting atmosphere to those who would engage in illicit activities and discourages the casual loiterer and vagrant who may consider frequenting the area. It’s an established fact that proper illumination reduces criminal activity however there are several considerations that must be taken into account before installing any security lighting equipment in order to ensure its full effectiveness.
One of the first things to keep in mind when considering lighting for security purposes is the fact that improperly chosen equipment can do more harm than good. Lighting used for security purposes is at its core intended to improve visibility for observers outside the area to be illuminated. Properties need to be easily visible from nearby businesses and homes during evening hours so that if unwanted activities take place, nearby observers can note it and alert authorities if necessary. Improperly chosen and installed lighting can interfere with this visibility rather than improve it. In several law enforcement and lighting industry studies it has been found that glare created from improperly directed lighting actually assisted criminals in their activities by making it difficult to view them from beyond the illuminated areas.
To this end, any lighting that is selected should first be considered for its directional characteristics and ability to produce an intense but well spread light pattern. Once a light is selected it must then be properly mounted so that illumination is cast on the areas needed while keeping direct visibility of the lamp shielded from visibility outside of the illuminated area. Lamps should be pointed at buildings, open lots, parking areas and identified weak areas like doors while positioning the housings so that the rear of the lamp faces towards the outside of the illuminated perimeter.
Another consideration is light quality. Lights that have a good color rendering index like Metal Halides offer some of the best illumination available. High Pressure Sodium lamps are also a popular choice for outdoor lighting of large areas, but their tendency to produce a distinctly orange or yellowish colored light makes them a poorer choice for security purposes. Metal Halide lamps produce a whiter light that more closely resembles the natural spectrum of light produced by the sun. Because of this they render colors and details more sharply and clearly which aids in making more effective identifications of persons and vehicles. Metal Halide lamps also tend to be very efficient and produce more lumens per watt than standard incandescent or halogen lamps which help them to reduce the costs associated with commercial lighting. A good example of Metal Halide lighting equipment suitable for security applications is the Larson Electronics 1000 Watt Metal Halide Light. Producing over 100,000 lumens of high quality light, this lamp is weather proof and suitable for use even in marine conditions. The ballast is integral and the lens cover is constructed of thermal and impact resistant glass. It can be mounted just about anywhere and the mounting hardware allows for both lateral and vertical adjustment. The lamp produces a wide flood pattern and with over 100,000 lumens can illuminate large areas effectively and efficiently.
Installation of lighting should take into account how building and grounds are laid out over an area. Lighting should ideally illuminate as much area as possible from a single location without casting some areas into shadow. The best way to accomplish this is to mount the lights at high elevations on poles or attach them to high points on the sides of buildings or other structures. Mounting lights at elevated positions serves two purposes. It helps the lamp to cover as much area as possible, and makes it difficult for criminals and vandals to gain access to them. Most security professionals suggest an elevation of twenty to thirty feet in order to achieve a good balance between coverage and protection for the lamp.
Yet another concern is how the light is connected to its power source. Criminals and vandals commonly take the simple route of cutting power lines if they are easily accessible in order to shut down security lights that may be present. If lights are mounted to poles, power lines should either be at least twenty feet or higher above the ground, or more ideally located within the poles themselves and routed underground where they cannot be accessed at all. Power boxes and junctions are vulnerable as well and should be ruggedly constructed and securely locked closed to prevent unwanted access. If at all possible these items should be located inside of fenced in areas of within the buildings themselves to remove access to them entirely.As a final note, once lighting is installed it is a good idea to inspect the lights while they are in operation. Observe the area from positions that you expect will be where the property is most likely to be viewable from passersby and nearby businesses or residences. Look for dark spots and glare and if any is found, adjust the lamp positioning accordingly to reduce them as much as possible. Exterior illumination represents the first line of defense for the property owner concerned with protecting their investment. With some careful consideration and proper selection of quality lighting equipment exterior lighting can be an effective and efficient deterrent that will add piece of mind along with effective security.