Types of security lighting

The latest types of Security Lighting and Sensors

Innovation is everywhere: your most up-to-date guide on the different types of security lighting on the market today.

In this Article:
Security lighting is getting smarter, but it still has its origins in the original motion detection technology of the past
Smart technology allows homeowners to control their security lightning from one app
The latest in technology allows for lights to be turned on both outside and inside your home for greater protection
No matter how innovative the technology, positioning your sensors in the right spot is still high on the priority list


You’re lying in bed, and the security light goes on outside your window.

Do you:

  1. Activate your panic room deadbolts and wait for the police.
  2. Peer outside and wonder if you should investigate.
  3. Roll over and go back to sleep. Bloody possums.

If you answered B or C, that’s evidence that these days most of us are pretty familiar with — even blasé about — security lighting.

Whether it’s a full-blown smart system or a solar powered DIY job stuck to your guttering, it’s an integral part of modern life. But it wasn’t always that way.


An Ultrasonic Past

The first motion detector used for home security purposes was patented in 1953 by US inventor Samuel Bagno. His ‘ultrasonic alarm’ enlisted the Doppler effect, reacting to the difference in the frequency of sound waves of a moving object. Today’s motion sensors work on some of the same basic principles only, well, better.

“PIR sensors [passive infrared sensors], often referred to as motion sensors, work on detecting heat and movement in the surrounding environment,” says Jake Short, Technical Support Officer at Trader GSM Electrical.

“You can adjust the light level (lux), sensitivity, time duration and detection zone — usually up to 18 metres. A multi-cell Fresnel lens is used to divide the sensor’s basic detection range into multiple segments or zones. When the sensor detects movement between the zones – especially people, animals and cars – it activates connected devices such as lighting.

“Recently, we’ve been seeing motion sensors fitted with a built-in manual override feature. This feature requires the sensor to be wired to a light switch. By turning the light switch off and back on within three seconds, the light can be turned on and won’t time out. It’s a feature that saves the homeowner the expense of installing a three-position switch to achieve the same results.”


Of course, if you want to save yourself the hassle of using switches altogether, you can hook your security lights up to an automated smart home solution that lets you control almost everything in your home from an app.


(And no, it’s not just something for new builds. The best systems can be retrofitted into any home that has 240V wiring with a neutral in the walls.)

Tim Fant, Product Manager – Comfort and Energy Management at Schneider Electric, explains.

“The Wiser system incorporates a range of sensors and smart switches that can be wired to control lighting used for security purposes. Wiser is a scalable system that allows homeowners to start small with simple Bluetooth point-to-point control using timers or schedules, or they can scale up to a Zigbee mesh system to control their whole home from anywhere.”

We may automatically think of outside lighting when we consider security, but of course, having lights on inside the home is the biggest signal that someone is in residence and therefore not an easy target for crime.

“Wiser can be easily programmed to automatically turn inside or outside lights on and off at certain times of the day, to give the impression someone is at home while they’re away,” says Fant.

“When a Wiser Hub is connected to the Wiser system and the home internet, lighting can be controlled from Wiser via the Schneider Electric app while the user is away from the home.”



No matter how smart your home, you’ll need to wire up your sensors to take maximum advantage of all the supporting technology.

Think about your entry and exit points and note any dark corners, so you can create a pathway of light for safety and security.


“We recommend an installation height of 2.5 metres to optimise the field of detection,” says Short. The base needs to be installed on a level surface ensuring that water and dust cannot gain ingress.”

Although many outdoor sensors carry an IP66 weather-protected rating, be mindful that constant exposure to harsh UV sunlight can reduce the life of motion sensors

The gasket material between the lens and fascia can perish prematurely in these conditions, so if the installation permits, it’s preferable to position sensors under an eave.

And what about those possums? Will they continue to set off the sensors in the dead of night?

“Yes. Cats and other animals, people, cars, occasionally tree branches swaying in the breeze and heat generated by light globes can set off motion sensors,” says Short. “You can adjust the sensitivity of the sensor, but a reduction in sensitivity will obviously affect the detection zone.”


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