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Pros and Cons of Battery-Operated Security Lighting

Sep 06, 2022|

Generally, intruders try to find homes that are easy targets. Having a motion-sensing security system can be a big deterrent against potential thieves. Security lighting is a powerful motion-sensing tool that lets passersby know your home is protected, even at night.

A motion sensor security light can help keep your home safe in a number of ways. It lights up your property so prowlers have nowhere to hide. It alerts you (and sometimes your neighbors) when there’s a threat. And it can trick an intruder into thinking you’re home when you’re not.

You can even program an area light to trigger other security devices like alarms, security cameras, and smart locks.

Your security lights need a reliable power source to defend your home. While some security lights draw energy directly from your home’s electrical system, others are battery-operated.

This guide explains how battery-powered security lights work and discusses their benefits and disadvantages to help you decide whether they should be part of your home security system.

Home exterior with smart lighting at dusk.

How battery-operated security lighting works

Some security lights are motion-activated. A motion sensor attached to the light fixture can trigger the light to illuminate the area when it senses movement. A security wall light (like a floodlight or an LED spotlight) is often super bright so it’s more noticeable.

Security lights need to be much brighter than atmosphere lights like step lights or stair lights. The brightness of a light is measured in lumens. Most home security lights average between 700 and 1500 lumen, but some ultra-bright security lights can go up to 2400 lumen. In general, a standard 75-watt bulb should be replaced with an energy-saving bulb of about 1100 lumens. Additionally, a 40-watt bulb should be replaced with an energy-saving bulb of about 450 lumens.

After the motion detector is activated, the security light stays on for a short period (usually around half a minute). If the motion detection sensor doesn’t pick up any more movement in its detection range, the light will turn off.

Most security lights are either floodlights or spotlights. A security floodlight illuminates a wide area, like your front yard, garage, or living room. Spotlights shine a directed beam to light up a narrow space. You might use a spotlight as a path light to illuminate a particular area on one of your walkways.

Floodlights usually consist of a single bulb, while spotlights might have a dual head (a head with two light bulbs) or even a triple head. The lights in a spotlight generally face in different directions.

Typically, your security lights will either be light-emitting diode (LED) or incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs cost less than LED bulbs, but LED lights are more energy efficient and last longer. In the long run, you’ll generally save more money in energy costs using LED security lights.

LED lights are also safer. Indoor and outdoor LED lights are less likely to overheat because they use less energy. However, using less energy also means that even bright LED bulbs generally can’t shine quite as brightly as incandescent lights.

There are both indoor and outdoor security lights. Outdoor light bulbs are weather-resistant to stand up to the elements. Check your light’s Ingress Protection Marking (IP) rating to see if it’s weatherproof. IP ratings are a set of standards that measure how effective certain products, like light fixtures, are at keeping out solids (like dust) and liquids (like rain).

You can buy battery-powered security lights or lights that are wired into your home’s electrical system. Wired lights usually require drilling into your home’s electrical system and may require professional installation. You may also be able to plug some security lights into an outlet, but this greatly limits where you can mount them.

On the other hand, battery-powered lights are easier to install because they don’t need to be connected to your home’s electrical system. They use rechargeable or disposable batteries as a power source. Some come with adhesive strips that make mounting them as easy as sticking them to a wall.

Solar lights also use batteries, but in a slightly different way. An outdoor security floodlight (or any type of light) is connected to a photocell battery. During the day, a solar panel on the light turns sunlight into energy and stores it in the battery. The light can then use the stored energy to shine at night.

How long do battery-operated security lights last?

Normally, security lights don’t last as long as normal lights. This is because the sensors in the security lights have electrical parts that can get worn out or damaged relatively fast compared to traditional lights. A typical security light bulb will last around two years.

How long the batteries in your security lights last will depend on how often your lights turn on. Generally, however, they’ll work for around a year before you need to replace them. Solar batteries can last up to four years.

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Pros of battery-operated security lighting

Here are some pros of battery-operated security lights.

  • Battery-powered lights are easier to install than wired lights. Wired security lights often require an expert to drill into your home’s drywall to reach your home’s electrical system.
  • Battery-powered lights can be mounted anywhere. You don’t have to find an outlet to plug your lights into, and you can move your lights to a different part of your home relatively easily if needed.
  • If you move, you can take your battery-powered lights with you. It requires a lot of effort to take a wired system with you to a new home.
  • Battery-powered lights and wireless motion detectors are off-grid. This means they won’t contribute to your energy costs.
  • It’s easier to replace battery-powered fixtures if they stop working. With wired lights, you have to connect a new light fixture to your electrical wiring.
  • Some Wi-Fi security lights can integrate with other smart security and smart home devices.
Mother and daughter reading by lamplight.

Cons of battery-operated security lighting

Here are some cons of battery-operated security lights.

  • They may not shine as brightly as hardwired lights. Hardwired lights have a continuous source of power that lets them maintain their brilliance. Battery-powered lights can dim over time.
  • You have to remember to change batteries. If you forget to change the batteries in your security lights, they might not work when you need them.
  • Solar battery lights need to be positioned where they can get plenty of sunlight. When the weather during the day is gloomy, they may not even get enough energy to operate efficiently at night.

Which security light is best?

When it comes to security lighting, everyone has different needs and preferences. For example, if you want adjustable lights that won’t add to your electricity bill and that you can take with you if you ever move, battery-powered lights are likely a great option.

If you want lights that won’t dim over time or if you’d rather not worry about having to change batteries, hardwired lights are probably your best bet.

The size and layout of your home can also help you decide which security lights (and how many) to purchase. If you have a big property with several walkways and a large back and front yard, you may need several LED floodlights and spotlights and LED motion sensors to protect yourself.

If you’ve got a little home or condo, one spotlight on your front door might do the trick.

Home exterior with smart lighting at dusk.

Discover smart security options from Vivint

Security lighting is just one way to help protect your home. If you want to further upgrade your home security, Vivint can help with a number of smart security products, like motion sensors and security cameras. They can also work well with assistants like Amazon Alexa.

Reach out to speak to one of our experts. They’ll help you analyze your home and discover your security needs. Then, they’ll let you know which products to check out for your home.

Are you curious about home automation? Our friendly staff can find all the smart products and devices you need to make your home smarter and more energy-efficient. Call us at 855.822.1220 for a free consultation today

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