Skip to main content

Guide to Outdoor Security Lighting

Sep 27, 2022|

Outdoor security lighting is one of the most important parts of a wider home security system. It’s your home’s first line of defense against intruders.

But there are so many different security lights on the market. How do you know you’re getting the best outdoor security lights to protect your home from dusk to dawn?

This guide explains everything you need to know about outdoor security lighting, including factors to consider when looking for quality outdoor security lights. We’ll also go over some of the best features that outdoor security lights can have.

Exterior of a home lit up at night by outdoor security lighting.

What is the best security outdoor light?

There is no one outdoor security light that works the best for every homeowner. The right security lights for you will depend on your security needs, preferences, and home design.

If you need help assessing your security needs, Vivint can connect you with an expert to analyze the layout of your home and find the best security solutions and devices for your personal situation.

Let’s be neighbors.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for more smart tips.

What to look for when choosing outdoor security lighting

Security lights can come in an assortment of models and with a variety of features. The next few sections go over a few things you should look for when it comes to security lighting.

The type of lighting

The main difference between normal outdoor lights and outdoor security lights is that security lights are attached to motion detectors and traditional lights aren’t. When you turn on traditional lights, they stay on until you turn them off.

Security lights use motion detection to sense movement within a detection range. The light turns on when the motion sensor picks up movement. If the motion sensor doesn’t detect any movement for around 30 seconds, the light turns off.

Traditional lights cost less than motion sensor lights; however, an outdoor motion sensor light can save you energy costs over time because it only turns on when triggered by movement.

The most common types of outdoor security lights are floodlights and spotlights. Floodlights light up wide areas like front and backyards. A floodlight only has one bulb that fills (or floods) a space with light.

Spotlights send out narrow, directed beams of light. Spotlights can have two or more light fixtures, or adjustable heads, designed to shoot light in different directions.

For example, a dual-head spotlight has two bulbs that can shoot light in opposite directions. Spotlights are good for things like lighting walkways on your property.

Incandescent and LED lights are the two most common types of lightbulbs used by security lights. Incandescent lights, or traditional lights, use more energy and shine brighter than LED bulbs. LED lights are more energy-efficient and last longer than incandescent bulbs. LED lights might be more expensive upfront, but they can make up for it in energy savings in the long run.

Outdoor lights should be weatherproof since they are exposed to the elements. Take a look at your light’s Ingress Protection (IP) rating to see if it can withstand harsh weather conditions. IP ratings measure your light fixture’s ability to avoid damage from things like water and dust.

Power sources for the lighting

Outdoor security lights can get energy in one of two ways: They can be battery-powered or use your home’s energy. Each power source has its advantages and disadvantages.

Battery-powered lights are easy to install. Many battery-operated security lights have adhesive strips you can use to stick them to your outside wall. This means battery-powered lights are also easy to remove and take to a new location if you decide to move.

A security light that uses batteries is also completely separate from your home’s energy system, so it won’t add to your electricity bill.

A downside to having battery-powered lights is that you have to ensure they don’t run out of juice. If you don’t change your batteries on time, your security lights might be offline when you need them.

Battery-powered lights also tend to get dimmer as the battery drains. Even rechargeable lights can become subdued after several charges.

Hardwired lights are tied into your home’s electrical system. As long as the electricity is running in your home, wired security lights have an ample power source. This means they’ll continue to maintain their brightness over time and you won’t have to worry about remembering to change their batteries.

However, wired lights are difficult to install. You’ll usually need a professional installer to drill into your wall and connect your lights to your electrical system.

And when you install hardwired lights, they’re generally permanent. It’s very hard to adjust where your hardwired lights are mounted or take them with you if you move.

A solar security light is another type of battery-powered light. Solar-powered lights have a solar panel connected to them that converts sunlight into electricity during the day. The electricity is stored in a battery and is used to power the solar motion sensor light at night.

Solar lights don’t add to your electricity bill, and they don’t require you to spend money on batteries if your lights receive enough sunlight during the day.

However, you must position solar lights where direct sunlight can hit them to work. This limits where you can mount them. Your solar lights also might not work well at night if the weather has been cloudy or dreary during the day.

Necessary brightness

In the same way that electricity is measured in wattage, brightness is measured in lumens. One lumen represents the amount of light that can be emitted by one candle. If your area light has 400 lumens, it can shine as bright as around 400 candles.

The amount of lumens a light should have depends on its purpose and what it needs to illuminate. For example, if you’re providing landscape lighting to improve the atmosphere of your backyard patio, you may only need a light with around 500 lumens. But if you want a light to brighten a whole parking lot, you might need one with around 10,000 lumens.

Generally, you’ll want bright lights with an average of between 700 and 1500 lumens for your home security system. The brighter your security lights are, the more likely they are to scare off potential criminals and the better they can warn you if there’s a threat to your home.

Smart home integration

Smart lighting can use a Wi-Fi internet connection to integrate with other smart devices in your security system or wider smart home setup. For example, you may be able to program the LED motion sensor in your outdoor security floodlight to activate automatically when you lock your smart locks to go to bed at night.

In an interconnected home security system, you can control your smart lights and all your other security devices from a central control panel or remotely using your smartphone. Some smart systems, like the ones offered by Vivint, integrate with programs like Amazon Alexa so you can operate your devices using voice commands.

Installation options

It’s possible to DIY install your security lighting. Some lighting systems are even designed for self-installation.

However, you may want to think twice before setting up your own lights. Trying to install wired lights can be challenging if you don’t have professional experience with electrical systems.

Even if you have battery-powered security lights, a professional can show you the best way to mount them so they offer the best home protection. That’s why Vivint offers professional installation for our security offerings.

When you invest in a smart home security system from Vivint, a reliable expert will ensure all your devices are positioned for maximum efficiency. They’ll also take the time to connect all your smart devices to give you a seamless home automation experience.

Outdoor security lighting FAQs

There’s a lot to know about outdoor security systems. If you still have questions, that’s OK. Below, we provide some helpful answers to a few things people often ask about security lighting.

Do security lights deter burglars?

Security lights can help deter intruders. When it comes to invading homes, criminals usually prefer the path of least resistance. A security light increases the chance that someone will see the intruder breaking into your home. Sometimes, a bright light on its own is enough to startle and scare off a burglar.

However, a security light by itself may not be enough to change a burglar’s mind. That’s why smart lights can work with a variety of other security devices, like wide-angle view security cameras like the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro and security sensors.

Where do you put motion sensor lights outside?

Security lights should be mounted around 6 to 10 feet high. They should be placed in the areas where potential intruders are most likely to walk by. For example, you might place a motion sensor security light above the walkway to your front door.

How many lumens should an outdoor security light have?

Outdoor security lights need to be bright to be effective. Outdoor security lights should have at least 700 lumens. However, some lights may need more. For example, LED floodlights used to light up large backyards may need as many as 1300 lumens.

Exterior of a home at night lit up by outdoor security lighting.

Discover custom security system options for your home with Vivint

Even though security lighting is extremely important, it’s only one part of an effective security system. At Vivint, we have experts on staff who can help you find all the smart security devices you need to keep your home protected.

If home automation is your goal, we can help you discover, select, and install all the right smart devices to secure your home and create a comfortable living space.

Give us a call at 855.822.1220 for a free consultation today.

Get a free quote today.

A Vivint Smart Home Pro will contact you within 24 hours. Or skip the form and call now: 844.481.8630.

Clicking the button below constitutes your electronic signature and consent for Vivint and its parent company NRG to use automated technology, including calls, texts and prerecorded messages, to contact you at the number provided about Vivint and NRG offers. Consent not required to make a purchase. Up to 10msg/month. Reply 'STOP' to opt-out. See Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

*Offer Details

Qualifying system purchase requires minimum $599.99 expenditure on equipment after all discounts have been applied, professional installation, and execution of Vivint monitoring services agreement. Click here for monthly service plan prices. DIY system purchases and reactivations of previously-installed systems not eligible for offer. Offer not available in all states or provinces. Equipment purchase may be financed separately subject to an agreement with one of Vivint's third-party financing partners. Monthly $1.48 cellular network maintenance fee applies. Taxes and local permit fees may apply.

Third-Party Financing Options Available

Financing eligibility and terms subject to credit approval by one of Vivint's third-party financing partners. Qualified customers may finance equipment purchase at 0% APR for up to 60 months. Month-to-month service agreement available when equipment is purchased upfront.

Vivint Systems & Services

System supports up to six cameras subject to sufficient WiFi speeds. Without a Vivint services plan, product and system functionality is limited (including loss of remote connectivity). Speak to a Vivint representative at the phone number in this offer for complete equipment, services, and package details, including pricing and financing details. Products and services in Louisiana provided by Vivint Louisiana Commercial Certificate #58280. See Vivint license numbers here.