Outdoor security is an important consideration for many homeowners and businesses in the UK. One popular security measure is the use of outdoor passive infra-red (PIR) sensor lights. These lights use motion detection technology to automatically illuminate when movement is detected in their vicinity. In this article, we will explore PIR lights, their benefits for security, and things to consider when installing them.
What Are PIR Lights?
PIR lights, also sometimes called motion sensor lights, are outdoor security lights that detect movement through infrared radiation. The PIR sensor on the light can detect changes in infrared radiation when a person or object with a different temperature passes in front of it. This triggers the light to turn on automatically and illuminate the area.
PIR lights are a popular choice for security lighting as they provide automatic illumination when needed, without requiring the light to be on continuously. This saves electricity and bulb life compared to traditional security lights that stay on all night.
How Do PIR Lights Work?
PIR sensor lights work through the use of a passive infrared sensor, which can detect minute changes in infrared radiation. This allows it to sense the body heat of a person or animal as they move within the detection zone.
The PIR sensor has a pyroelectric sensing element made from a crystalline material that generates a small electric current when it experiences a change in temperature from a moving infrared source. This current triggers an internal switch that turns the light on.
Most PIR lights have sensitivity adjustments and swivel heads to allow customisation of the detection zone area and range. The sensor can detect motion out to around 10 metres or more.
Once triggered, the light will stay illuminated for an adjustable length of time, usually from 10 seconds up to 10 minutes. After this time period elapses with no further motion detected, the light will turn off again. This prevents the light staying on unnecessarily all night.
Benefits of PIR Lights for Security
Installing PIR sensor lights has several benefits that can enhance security around the home or business:
- Automatic illumination – Lights activate automatically when motion is detected, without needing to remember to turn them on manually. This ensures areas are lit when needed.
- Energy efficiency – Lights only turn on when triggered by movement, saving electricity compared to lights left on constantly. Bulb life is extended too.
- Deter intruders – Illumination triggered by the PIR sensor is sudden and unexpected, helping deter potential intruders.
- Flexibility – Directional heads and adjustable sensors allow light coverage to be customised for the specific area.
- Easy installation – PIR lights are relatively straightforward for DIY installation on walls or under eaves. No wiring changes are needed to make them work.
- Cost effective – PIR security lights provide flexible automated lighting at relatively low cost compared to a professionally installed and wired system.
Properly positioned PIR sensor lights provide an excellent low-maintenance way to enhance security and deterrence around the perimeter of a property. The unexpected illumination can scare away prowlers and alert homeowners to suspicious activity.
Where to Install PIR Lights
Carefully planning the positioning of outdoor PIR lights is important for maximising their effectiveness. Ideal locations to install them include:
- Beside entrances – Illuminate doors and access points to deter and identify intruders.
- Along driveways and paths – Light the way and spot any unwanted visitors approaching the property.
- By garages and sheds – Deterring thieves looking to break into storage areas.
- On corners and fences – Eliminate dark spots prowlers could hide around the perimeter.
- Facing rear gardens – Catch intruders crossing open ground not covered by other lighting.
- Under eaves – Subtly increase security without lights being too obvious.
The detection zone of most PIR lights extends out 7-12 metres. Position them strategically to cover key areas without overlaps that may cause nuisance triggering. Angling heads down slightly focuses illumination on the immediate area you want to secure.
Factors to Consider When Installing
Installing outdoor PIR security lights is relatively straightforward as a DIY project. However, there are some handy tips worth knowing for getting the best performance:
- Choose a quality fixture from a reputable brand for durability and reliable detection. Models with multiple adjustable heads provide greater flexibility. PIR lights from Universal Lighting are a great option.
- Select lights with variable settings – being able to adjust light duration, sensitivity and swivel heads makes it easy to customise coverage.
- LED bulbs are ideal as they are energy efficient and long lasting. Go for a high lumen rating to get powerful brightness.
- Ensure lights have manual override switches so they can be turned on/off manually when required.
- Position lights out of reach to prevent tampering – mounting height should be at least 2.5m.
- Avoid pointing lights at reflective surfaces like pools that may cause false triggering of the PIR sensor.
- Don’t install lights where they will shine into neighbouring properties as this risks becoming a nuisance.
Taking the time to find the optimal mounting locations during installation will give the best performance from security PIR lights. Get them right and they will provide reliable automated illumination around the perimeter whenever needed.
Occasionally PIR sensor lights may develop issues affecting their performance. Some troubleshooting tips for common problems are:
Light won’t turn on at all
- Check power supply and wiring connections are intact
- Bulb may have failed – replace it
- PIR sensor lens may be dirty – gently clean it
- Override switch could be turned off – switch it on
Light turns on for no reason
- Sudden temperature changes can falsely trigger it
- Nearby reflective surfaces may be the cause – reposition light
- Reduce sensitivity setting to avoid nuisance activation
Light comes on during daytime
- Sunlight can activate the PIR sensor
- Fit a light-sensitive photocell to prevent daytime operation
Light turns off too quickly
- Extend the timer setting to keep it illuminated for longer
- Heavy rain or wind may be ending the activation early
Detection range has reduced
- PIR sensor alignment may have shifted – check positioning
- Reduce in sensor range can indicate a fault – unit may need replacing
Light flickers on and off
- Lamp wiring may be loose or damaged – check connections
- Faulty electrical contacts could be interrupting the power
Following this troubleshooting guide should help identify and resolve any issues arising with outdoor PIR security lights. But when in doubt, always consult a qualified electrician.
Security Tips Using PIR Lights
While PIR sensor lights are a handy security aid, they should be used as part of a layered home security approach for maximum protection. Other useful tips include:
- Keep doors and windows locked, even when at home
- Install security alarm systems and CCTV cameras
- Keep valuables out of sight
- Trim back vegetation that can conceal intruders
- Join a neighbourhood watch scheme
- Leave radios or lights on timers when away
- Ask neighbours to report suspicious sightings
PIR lights provide an excellent first line of defence, but combining them with other deterrents, vigilance about home security, and maintaining good relations with your local community remains important.
Installing outdoor PIR sensor lighting is an easy and cost-effective way to boost security around your property perimeter. The automatically triggered illumination when movement is detected acts as an excellent deterrent, as well as making it easier to spot any unwanted intruders.
With adjustable settings and strategic positioning, PIR lights can be customised to provide reliable security lighting tailored to your specific needs. Just be sure to install quality fixtures, following handy placement and wiring tips for optimal performance. Combine with other prudent security habits for even greater peace of mind. Your property will be well protected.
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