September 2019 – I Have Seen the Light
Ever turned on a light and watched bugs scatter? Ever left a light on and the bugs come back? Lighting in your neighborhood and your house can do both. Let me explain.
Criminals, just like bugs, don’t like to do business in the light. Too many people can see them. Picture the image of the drug deal in the dimly lit alleyway. Keep the common areas of the neighborhood bright, it will force the criminals elsewhere, for the most part. A 2018 study by the NYPD and NY Housing Authority found outdoor lighting caused a 39% drop in crime.
Have you ever left the light on and seen the bugs come back? We’ve established that install lights and the bugs go away. Yes, but I’ll relay it like this. I had a neighbor growing up. Every time they were out of town, they left their floodlights on around the house. When they were in town, the house was dark. Patterns help criminals decide which house to break into. Even with a light on, an empty house is tempting. As a note, a study by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte found ONLY 24% of convicted burglars would avoid a house because of lighting. But that is 24% to start with. Additional security measures will take this to a much higher security level.
What houses have the most unwelcome guests? Statistically, Cul-De-Sac homes have less vehicle traffic and therefore are more defensible; however, foot traffic increases in Cul-De-Sac homes. Why? Well, two reasons. Cul-De-Sac homes typically back up to another neighborhood, or a public area. These are safe places for criminals to blend in. Also, most cul-de-sac homes do not have windows or lights on the sides of the houses (so as not to annoy or look in on neighbors). This makes a nice dark alleyway for criminals to run through.
Lighting is big business. Big in cost, big in equipment, big in what you see. There are two types of lights in a neighborhood. These are street and parking lot lighting, and residential lighting. Did you know there are 9 different bulb types, from incandescent and halogen bulbs (residential) to metal halide and pressurized sodium bulbs (stadiums and parking lots). LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights have come about within the last 5 years. Each of these offers their own benefit.
But what type of light is best? Well, it depends, and it depends on who is paying the bill. Bright parking lot lights are designed to come on at dusk and turn off at dawn. The longer they stay on the better. Certain lights do better for video surveillance. If the parking lot is near the clubhouse, you want a light that works with the camera, right? Incandescent bulbs are the most costly, and last the shortest. Upside, they are on immediately, and off immediately. Halogen bulbs take time to warm up. Metal Halide bulbs are great for stadiums, and have the best color, but take time to get started, and may cause too much light. With the technology being put into LED lights, these are the most cost effective light for the price. They come in a variety of colors and temperatures. They cost next to nothing to operate, and most existing lights can be retrofitted with LED heads, so you don’t have to replace the entire pole.
I mentioned security cameras. Cameras are great. They capture a ton of stuff, but they need light. Typically, the cheaper the camera, the more light it needs (even if it has infrared illuminators). Does your neighborhood have enough light for cameras on the clubhouse? Does your house have enough light for that Ring camera on the driveway? Probably not. Strategic lighting can help that.