Most individuals recognize that having lighting around their premises at night is a good deterrent against burglary and other crimes. With the high cost of electricity in the Caribbean, however, many persons either forgo lighting the premises or drastically reduce the amount of lighting to reduce their electricity bill.
An option that has significantly improved over the past few years is the use of solar lighting. By drawing their power from the sun, these lights do not require any connection to the electricity supply, thus not increasing the monthly electricity bill. In addition, these lights come with a photo sensor that causes them to switch on automatically whenever it is dark. The average individual, when thinking about solar lights, imagines the garden type solar lights that are intended to be staked into the ground. These are certainly good for decorative purposes and for lighting walkways to allow pedestrians to see where they are walking. To be effective for security purposes, however, any lighting has to be placed at a height so that the light can illuminate a relatively large area.
Solar light manufacturers have broadened their range of lighting designs so that there are now solar lights that are designed to be mounted onto walls or poles and others that can be easily configured to be mounted on posts. One of the factors to be considered in the placement of solar lights is that these lights draw their power from the sun, therefore, they need to be placed where the solar panel can receive the maximum direct sunlight. If the panel only receives partial light or if it receives direct light for only a few hours, it will not last the entire night. We have all grown up learning that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This is a true statement.
However, most individuals do not notice that as the earth spins on its axis, the precise direction from which the sun rises and sets varies during the year. This variation should be taken into account when determining the placement of the light. If you’re going to mount these lights onto trees, it is important to take into account that the movement of the tree’s branches because of the wind can dampen its effectiveness. If placed where these branches are in the range of the motion detector, then the light will constantly be going to full power, thus drawing on the battery and causing the light to stop illuminating before the night is over. One therefore has to avoid tree branches or regularly cut the tree’s limbs to ensure that they are not in the range of the motion detector. One of the types of solar lights that can be used for security purposes comes with the ability to adjust the focus of the beam so that you can concentrate the light on a specific area or widen the focus so that the light illuminates a larger area. It is to be noted that in widening the focus to cover a larger area, the intensity of the light diminishes.
Another feature of this light is that the angle of the solar panel is adjustable, thus you can adjust the positioning of
the solar panel to gain the maximum amount of exposure to the sun. Some solar lights emit a constant level of illumination once the surroundings become dark. A few manufacturers have begun creating lights that have an adjustable level of illumination and combined that with a Passive Infra- Red detector to provide motion detection. With these lights, you can choose to have the light emit a constant level of illumination or you can choose to have the light remain off unless it detects motion, at which point it will illuminate the area. A third lighting option with these lights is for the light to emit illumination at a low level and then automatically switch to full illumination when motion is detected. These variations in light settings are to
allow the user to configure the illumination in the manner that best suits their need and, at the same time, conserve battery life to allow the light to last throughout the night. One manufacturer has designed their light so that it provides motion detection and illumination on three sides, thus giving a 120-degree wide angle detection. Many manufacturers have developed their lights using LEDs, as these require less power in order to illuminate an area. The greater the number of LEDs contained in the light unit, the greater will be the illumination that the unit emits. So when comparing different types of solar lights, you should compare the number of LEDs in each different unit. In choosing solar lights for outdoor security use, it is important to ensure that the light is waterproof, dust proof, shockproof and heat proof. It is also important to carefully review all the features of the light to ensure that it meets your requirements. Finally, it is beneficial to read any independent reviews of the particular light to confirm that it is suitable for your use, as there are many manufacturers with varying quality of product. It is possible to obtain solar lights that assist in providing security deterrence and these provide a low cost means of adding to your security arsenal. Many manufacturers have developed their lights using LEDs as these require less power in order to illuminate an area.
About the Author
Brian Ramsey has a B.A. in Accounting & Management, along with an M.B.A. in Finance and over 29 years in the Caribbean security field. He is the Regional Development Director for Amalgamated Security Services Limited which operates in Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Barbados, St Lucia, Guyana, and Antigua. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.