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      • Published 8 Feb 2024
      • Last Modified 8 Feb 2024
    • 11 min

    Guarding Your Space: Security Lights & Motion Sensor Lights

    In this article we’ll cover the uses and types of security lighting, typically used for improving security in commercial, industrial residential settings. It offers a comprehensive overview on how security lights work and how they can be effective in protecting property and deterring intruders. 

    While New Zealand may be one of the safest countries in the world, we’re not completely crime-free, so taking security into account should still be a priority. We will also highlight some popular brands that provide security lighting solutions to start you on the path to choosing the right light for your needs. 

    What are Security Lights?

    Security lights, as the name suggests, are a category of lighting fixtures designed to enhance security and safety. They are strategically placed in and around properties to deter intruders and provide visibility during night time or low light conditions. 

    Security lights can be effective in preventing trespassing, vandalism, or other potential security threats. Security lights can use proximity sensors or can be set up to turn on at the onset of darkness. While they are primarily used for security purposes they can also be used in practical scenarios as well, such as helping you navigate walkways or outdoor spaces at night.

    In the next sections, we will explore various types of security lighting including outdoor, solar, LED, and PIR security lighting, and what to consider when purchasing them. 

    Types of Outdoor Security Lighting

    Outdoor Security Lighting

    Most security lighting is meant to be used outside, meaning they are typically weatherproof and can handle most weather conditions without their performance being heavily affected. These types of security lights are typically used to detect intruders and make them visible which can deter them from proceeding further. 

    There is a wide variety of different types of outdoor security lights. Cheaper varieties tend to just be basic standalone security lamps, which can use various types of bulbs. However, there are also more complex outdoor security lights which typically have more advanced features and both a wider and more sensitive detection range. 

    When considering what type of outdoor security lighting is right for your specific situation it’s important to think about a few key aspects, including motion-sensor technology, energy-efficiency, and the amount of light coverage that is required for the space it will be covering. 

    Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights

    There are three main types of motion sensors commonly used in the security lighting industry. These types of security lights use different kinds of proximity sensors to detect motion and trigger the lights. We’ll cover each of these as well as their pros and cons in the section below:

    Passive Infrared (PIR) Motion Sensor Lighting

    Often referred to as PIR lights, or PID Systems, these motion sensor lights have become one of the go to choices in the world of safety and security lighting. These lights use infrared signals to detect motion hence the names PIR (Passive Infrared) and PID (Passive Infrared Detector). Infrared signals are invisible to the human eye, however PIR sensors are able to detect these signals through the heat energy that they give off. PIR lights are unique in that they identify warmth and heat, allowing it to distinguish between a leaf falling from a tree and a potential intruder. By using infrared sensors and heat PIR sensors offer some of the most accurate and energy efficient forms of motion detection. As they are only triggered by heat you don’t have to worry about small sounds or movements that could cause the lights to turn on unnecessarily. 

    Microwave Motion Sensor Lighting

    Microwave motion sensors emit continuous microwave signals and monitor the reflections of the waves. When an object moves within the detection range of the sensor it causes a disturbance in the microwave pattern, triggering the sensor. When used in the case of security lights this disturbance in the pattern would cause the light to turn on. However, as these sensors only detect motion, they can be a bit too sensitive and prone to triggering due to everyday occurrences. 

    Dual Technology Motion Sensor Lighting

    Dual Technology sensors combine two different technologies, often PIR and microwave, to more accurately detect motion. These sensors are more accurate as they require both sensors to trigger simultaneously for the light to activate. These sensors are highly reliable and suitable for high-security applications, particularly when false alarms are a concern. They provide an extra layer of protection by ensuring that motion is confirmed by multiple detection methods.When selecting motion sensor security lights for your property, consider the specific needs of your environment and the level of security required. Each type of sensor has its strengths and weaknesses, and the choice will depend on factors such as the area to be covered and the potential for false alarms.

    Are Security Lights Effective in Deterring Intruders?

    The question of whether security lights deter intruders is a crucial one for anyone considering outdoor security lighting systems. Security lights are often installed with the primary goal of enhancing safety and deterring potential intruders, so of course it’s important for potential buyers to understand the impact of security lights and how they can help.

    Studies have consistently shown that well-lit areas are less vulnerable to crime, whether in public spaces, streets, or private properties. Due to these studies it’s no surprise that security lights can indeed help deter intruders. However, the effectiveness of security lighting in deterring intruders depends on various factors, most importantly where it is installed. 

    Effective Placement of Security Lighting

    The effectiveness of security lighting relies on a range of factors which we’ll cover in this section. 

    The most important factor is likely the placement of the lights. It is important to think about if the lighting will be useful for security personnel, observers, or even the intruders themselves! 

    Illuminating an intruder who remains out of sight is not an effective deterrent as this has the potential to make it easier for the intruder to see their surroundings while not revealing them to security personnel or cameras. This makes it important to ensure that security lights are placed only in areas where triggering them will make intruders visible. 

    Timing & Usage of Security Lighting

    While security lights can act as an effective deterrent for intruders the timing & usage of them must all be considered. Leaving security lights on for 24 hours a day is not an effective approach, as it can often attract unwanted attention by those in surrounding areas.

    Security lights that act on a timer can also imply a sense of predictability, giving potential intruders an easy workaround if they know exactly when the security lighting will be activated. Making use of motion sensors and only activating the lights when needed is often the most effective approach. 

    Further Improve Security with Complementary Technologies

    While security lights can act as a deterrent on their own, they are more effective when combined with other security technologies. Integrating security lights with visible cameras and surveillance devices enhances their impact. The visibility of CCTV cameras and surveillance equipment, coupled with well-placed lighting, sends a strong signal that intruders are being observed creating a stronger deterrent effect.

    Building a comprehensive security system combined with lights and cameras provides a more thorough deterrent than security lights alone, so if you’re looking to protect your property consider adding complementary technologies to further improve your security.

    The Different Types of Security Lights

    Choosing the right type of security lighting system can be a daunting task, as there are many different types, configurations, and options to consider. Whether it’s commercial, industrial or even residential property, each will have its own set of unique requirements, making customised security lighting solutions the most effective. Here are a few of the most popular types of security lights to consider.

    Solar Security Lights

    Solar security lights rely on the power of the sun to provide light. They are an eco-friendly and cost-effective option, perfect for areas with access to direct sunlight. Solar security lights are a great choice for remote locations and areas with no direct access to electrical power. Solar powered security lights can even be used in areas where the weather isn’t particularly sunny. A constant source of sunlight is not needed for solar powered security lights to operate effectively as modern solar security light systems are very efficient at converting sunlight into power. This is true even in areas with constant cloud cover or low UV counts. However, you do still want to try and make sure they get as much sun as possible. Some systems even come with a detachable solar panel that can be placed in an area with more direct sunlight. Another benefit to solar security lights is that, like battery powered lights, they don’t need to be connected to a source of electricity, meaning the installation can be quick and easy without having to consider wiring. All of these benefits make solar security lights a reliable and popular choice for those looking for a flexible and eco-friendly option.

    LED Security Lights

    LED floodlights have become a popular choice for outdoor security lighting due to their outstanding energy efficiency and long-term benefits. LED lamps deliver the same brightness (lumen rating) with significantly lower power consumption compared to incandescent or halogen bulbs, making them cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Their lifespan is also far longer as compared to most other bulbs meaning they need to be replaced far less often, providing additional reliability in security situations. Their extended lifespan reduces maintenance and long-term costs, outweighing the initial investment. LED security lights provide immediate, bright illumination, enhancing security, and acting as a strong deterrent. Proper installation, typically on walls or above doorways, ensures maximum effectiveness, especially when used with PIR motion sensors for clear, unhindered coverage of the intended area.

    PIR Security Lights

    PIR floodlights are widely used in various industrial and commercial settings, making them an excellent choice for enhancing security over entrances, doorways, windows, loading bays, and other access points. Most PIR lights can be activated in two ways, through specific time settings or through motion detection. Time settings allow the light to turn off during times where they are not needed saving energy costs. The motion detection activation can also serve as an effective alert system notifying potential intruders that their presence has been detected. Motion-activated PIR security lights are used in a large number of settings, including work yards, entryways, and loading areas. These lights not only deter intruders but also serve as helpful lighting for welcome visitors. PIR sensor technology excels in security lighting by reducing the likelihood of false alarms. Unlike some other sensor types sensitive to environmental movement, such as microwave sensors in windy conditions, PIR sensors offer more reliable performance.

    Security Light Bulbs

    When purchasing security lights online, most units typically come with a suitable light bulb included. However, it's advisable to confirm this to ensure you have all the components you need to install them without an extra trip to the store. In the modern era of security lighting, the majority of wall-mounted security lights and floodlights are powered by LED bulbs. LED bulbs offer several advantages, including cost-effectiveness, environmental friendliness, and a longer lifespan compared to traditional bulbs. This holds true whether the security lighting features a PIR unit or not. LED bulbs are also well-suited for applications like solar security lighting and battery-powered wall lights due to their energy efficiency, making them an ideal choice for these roles.For larger-scale commercial or industrial security lighting systems, some models may utilise alternative lamp types such as halogen bulbs. Typically, these lights come with one bulb already mounted in the floodlight housing at the time of purchase.When it's time for a replacement bulb, you can easily find various types of LED bulbs and halogen lamps online. Ensure that you choose the correct size and type as indicated in the manufacturer's guidance or specification sheet for your specific product.


    Security lighting is a critical component of any comprehensive security system, offering safety and peace of mind. From outdoor security lighting to motion sensor technology and various security light bulbs, the choices are extensive and can be daunting for someone new to the field. By understanding the options available and their benefits, you can create a well-planned security lighting system that suits your specific requirements. Whether for commercial, industrial, or other applications, investing in the right security lighting can make a significant difference in safeguarding your property and ensuring the well-being of its occupants.

    Popular Brands



    HPM is a leading brand in the world of LED lighting making them a great choice for your security lighting needs.

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    RS Pro

    RS Pro

    RS’s in house brand offers a wide variety of lighting solutions for various purposes at competitive prices.

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    Solar Centre

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    Solar Centre offers a range of solar powered flood lights and other lighting solutions. Browse their collection at RS here.

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