Security lighting is an essential component of public safety, and the statistics back this up. The Bureau of Justice tracks crime events in areas like parking garages and parking lots, and every year, about 10 percent of all property crimes and eight percent of all violent crimes happen in these places. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is also aware of these numbers and considers security lighting to be a primary line of defense against criminal activity.
In 1996, the department released a report in which it stated that “good lighting deters crime and produces a more secure atmosphere”. It is one of the few facility features that has been documented to reduce crime in parking facilities.”
In other words, while a lot of time has been spent researching how to make properties safer, security lighting remains one of the best layers of defense a property owner can invest in.
How does security lighting make public areas safer?
Professionally placed and installed security lighting is designed to make a property difficult for criminals to deal with. Criminals prefer concealment, especially in public or common areas like parking lots and apartment grounds. In these spots, there may be few places for a criminal to hide, and sufficient lighting reduces their options further. This often serves as a deterrent.
Deterrence, though, is only part of the security lighting equation. With added illumination comes greater visibility, and if people can see well into the distance they can assess potential threats long before they become an existing threat. People rely on this fact in well-lit areas, which is why illumination provides a sense of comfort. It’s also why well-lit properties are more attractive to drivers and pedestrians.
Finally, security lighting improves facial recognition efforts so if a crime does occur in an illuminated spot it will be easier for police to find the perpetrator. This is something that commercial and industrial properties rely on, which is why they pair security camera systems with high intensity, motion-activated lights.
Also, extra lighting is always helpful in a place where pedestrians and vehicles occupy the same space. Parking garages and lots require excellent visibility to prevent accidents, and security lighting can help in this regard. It’s a true multi-tool.
How can LED wall pack lighting improve security and safety?
There are several forms of security lighting, and LED wall packs are one of the staples. Wall pack lighting is called such because it is usually installed on the structure’s exterior walls. They are extremely versatile and can be placed almost everywhere as long as there is a wall there to hold it up. This makes wall pack lighting a common sight in parking lots and garages.
Aside from their versatility, why should public and common spaces consider LED wall pack lighting? There are several reasons including:
- Improved coverage – Wall pack fixtures are compatible with most forms of lighting, including halogen, fluorescent, high intensity discharge (HID) and LED technology. Of these, LED technology represents the best performing option.
When talking about security lighting performance is measured in intensity and uniformity. It is critical that a security lighting system output enough illumination to deter crime and ensure that level of intensity is achieved across the entire installation. LED technology does this better than any other lighting option, as it is directional by design. Other technologies, including HID and fluorescent fixtures, emit in a radiant pattern which makes it harder to control where the light goes. LEDs, though, can be precisely aimed and metered, so it’s simple for the lighting expert to achieve optimal uniformity.
- Better color rendering – Older HID options, like low pressure sodium vapor and high pressure sodium lights, emit a deep yellow hue of light. It’s difficult for the human eye to render color under this type of lighting cast, reducing the effectiveness of HID from a distance.
LED technology, though, can emit a color temperature close to neutral white, ensuring superior color rendering and allowing people to perceive their surroundings as they are. This is a comfort to most people and it also makes it easier for drivers to detect nearby pedestrians faster, which is always something to consider.
- Superior efficiency – Older wall pack fixtures that run on HID technology may require upward of 400 watts to function, and most fall in the 100 to 175 watt range. LED wall pack lights, though, provide comparable illumination intensity and better coverage while needing far less energy. It’s common to see LED wall pack lights in the 30 to 80-watt range, which can help keep energy expenditures at a reasonable level.
- Long lasting – LED technology also lasts much longer than other lighting options. This is largely because LED fixtures do not experience a sudden decline in performance once they reach a certain age. Instead they gradually lose their intensity, and for years this drop may be imperceptible. In fact, the functional life of an LED wall pack fixture may be in excess of 50,000 hours, and the fixture needs little maintenance during this time.
Compare this to HID technology, which has a rated life of somewhere around 20,000 hours. In many cases, a HID fixture will produce insufficient light before that mark, so it’s normal to replace an HID lamp three or four times before a single LED replacement is required.
What other types of security lighting are recommended?
Wall pack lights are an important part of any security lighting system, but they are just one part. Parking lots should also be illuminated with pole-mounted fixtures, and flood lights can also provide a high intensity spot when necessary.
Ideally, a security lighting system would also rely on modern lighting controls to improve the system’s performance. Motion-activated lights, for example, trigger when someone is nearby, which can expose criminals and alert everyone nearby to their presence. Occupancy controls like motion sensors are perfect for flood lights, as their high intensity costs more energy to run over many hours. Security lighting may also be tied to timers, which can instantly switch the system on at night and off once daylight is detected.
Security lighting is one of the most cost-effective investments a property owner can make for safety. That investment should include LED wall pack fixtures, as well as pole-mounted lights and lights tied to modern controls.