Home Security Lighting – Installations
Home Security Lighting – Installations
A low-voltage outdoor lighting system runs on a 12 or 24 volt supply, normally drawn from a plug-in transformer. This will supply current for several low- lamps, which typically range from 7 to 20 watts. Consequently, their light output will be quite low (when compared to a 60 watt bulb) and the illuminated area quite small. There’s an enormous range of kits for the garden, which can be used to illuminate a pond, uplight trees and shrubs, or highlight certain features in the garden. They’re more suitable for creating an atmospheric mood in the garden than for security, simply because the light output is so low and they have a tendency to cast shadows.
They’re very easy and safe to assemble and install, however, and the cabling can be run along the surface of the ground. That said, the cables are thin and easily damaged. While low-voltage lighting will not be capable of actually illuminating an intruder, it will cast his shadow if used to highlight a path or other potential approach route. Ideally, it should be supplemented by a mains system.
A mains powered lighting system runs off the standard domestic 240 volt supply. Protecting the electrical supply to your security lighting is imperative for safety and security reasons, because exposed and unprotected cables can easily be cut. Wherever possible, mount light fittings on the house or outbuilding walls so that power can be supplied through the wall, thus reducing the amount of exposed cabling. If you do intend running exposed cabling, use either mineral-insulated cable (MICC) or bury the cable in heavy-gauge, galvanised steel conduit at least 450 mm (1 ft 6 in) below the ground. Cables in armoured, PVC-sheathed protective plastic conduits must similarly be laid at least 450 mm below the surface to where the point of fixing is reached. If the distance between an outbuilding and the house is less than 3m (10 ft), PVC-sheathed cable may be run overhead, provided it reaches a minimum height of 3.6 m (12 ft), without the need of additional support or protection.
Any new cabling must come from an isolating mains switch in the house and terminate in the outbuilding or shed at another isolating switch. It should not be wired as an extension from a socket outlet on an outside wall.
For a more sophisticated arrangement, the circuits can be linked to an alarm, so that any attempt at interference will automatically trigger the alarm. For larger dwellings in remote or rural settings, consider installing a back-up system, such as a battery and inverter or stand-by generator. The provision of a non-break system that will ensure an instantaneous change-over in the event of a mains failure can be expensive, but will ensure that the security lighting remains switched on. This is particularly relevant if using high-pressure discharge lamps that have a restrike time.
If you want to install a variety of lights in different locations on and around your property, employing a qualified electrician might be your best option. You should never undertake electrical work yourself unless you know exactly what you’re doing. Expect a relatively high cost for the work and some disruption, especially if the cables are to be buried.
Once the security lighting has been installed, it will require a small amount of regular maintenance, such as replacing lamps and cleaning the luminaires. Keep a supply of spare lamps, in case one blows when the shops are shut. Make a periodic check of the fittings and exposed cables for wear and tear and damage, especially before the winter months set in.
Replace blown lamps as soon as possible. Be suspicious of any lamp that appears to have been damaged. While, in most cases, this is likely to be accidental, you should never rule out the possibility that it could have been damaged deliberately.