How to Choose the Best Outdoor Security Lights

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By tom.baldridge

Installing outdoor security lighting is one of the most effective ways to deter crime and protect your property at night. This guide will walk you through the key factors to consider when selecting the optimal outdoor security lights for your needs.


Outdoor security lights serve the dual purposes of illumination and crime deterrence. Strategically positioned lighting eliminates darkness thieves depend on while also enabling sharp video monitoring if you add security cameras.

Choosing the right outdoor security lighting delivers benefits such as:

  • Increased visibility and safety at night
  • Reduced opportunities for criminals to lurk undetected
  • Better video surveillance footage if using security cameras
  • Greater curb appeal for your home or business
  • Energy savings from high-efficiency LED bulbs

This article will cover the critical considerations as you shop for outdoor security lights, from light types and features to optimal placement. With the right lights installed in key areas, you can feel more secure and protected after dark.

Evaluate Your Needs and Goals

The first step is outlining your specific goals and needs when it comes to enhanced outdoor lighting. Important factors to consider include:

  • Square footage of property needing illumination
  • High-priority areas like entrances and perimeter
  • Existing lighting deficiencies and extra dark spots
  • Whether you have or plan to install outdoor security cameras
  • Aesthetic preferences for subtle or statement lighting
  • Smart capabilities if integrating with a home automation system
  • Your budget for an outdoor lighting system

Take measurements and inspect areas at night to pinpoint where additional security lights can have the most impact. This will help narrow your options.

Key Types of Outdoor Security Lights

There are several common types of security lights, each with their own pros and cons:

Flood Lights

  • Very bright for illuminating large areas
  • Motion sensor and manual operation options
  • Can be overwhelming if too bright for space


  • Concentrated beam for precise illumination
  • Adjustable to aim at specific areas
  • Can create harsh glare if improperly aimed

Path Lights

  • Soften walkways with elegant directed light
  • Low voltage and solar-powered options available
  • Diffused glow lacks crime deterrent brightness

Step Lights

  • Illuminate stairs for safer navigation
  • Built-in photocells turn on at dusk automatically
  • Low light output not optimal for security

Flood lights are best suited for maximizing brightness and security. Spotlights also provide directed illumination. Path and step lights offer ambient lighting but lack optimal crime deterrence.

Key Features and Capabilities

The right security lights balance brightness with features that enhance convenience and control. Consider these top features when shopping:

Motion Sensors – Look for adjustable motion sensors that turn lights on automatically when activity is detected in the coverage area. This avoids lights running all night.

Timer Settings – Set schedules so security lighting turns on for set blocks of time at night, then off later for sleeping hours.

Photocell – A photocell sensor automatically turns the light on at dusk and off at dawn for hands-free convenience.

Adjustable Brightness – Choose lights with variable brightness levels to lower overnight to conserve energy while maintaining some visibility.

Weatherproof – Ensure outdoor lights have weatherproofing and water resistance to withstand the elements.

Smart Home Integration – Many newer security lights connect with smart home platforms for app and voice control.

Solar Power – For installation areas without electrical wiring, solar-powered security lights remove the need to dig trenches.

High-Quality LEDs – LED bulbs minimize energy use while lasting for years without needing replacement.

Warranty – Look for at least a 1-year warranty and lifespan of 25,000 hours from reputable brands.

The right blend of illumination power, detection technology, and smart convenience features ensures your lights serve their vital security purpose while also simplifying control and maintenance.

Optimal Security Light Placement

Proper placement is just as critical as the features of the lights themselves. Use these tips to determine optimal positioning:

Illuminate all entrances – Ensure every exterior door has a bright flood light within 15-30 feet to eliminate criminal concealment opportunities.

**Lights at corner entrances **- Criminals often approach targets from the side of yards taking advantage of darkness. Lights in side setbacks increase visibility.

Sweep shadows from hiding spots – Shine lights on shrubbery, storage sheds, or alcoves where criminals could hide undetected.

Wide perimeter coverage – Position flood lights around the full perimeter of your property with overlapping beams to fully surround with illumination.

Highlight house numbers – Well-lit address numbers benefit both first responders and guests trying to locate your home at night.

See the faces – The ideal placement puts light at the subject’s face, without glare or shadows, when standing at entry points.

Pair with security cameras – Coordinate positioning with cameras for optimal surveillance and complete property coverage.

Take the time to walk the property at night and observe areas lacking sufficient visibility to identify ideal mounting locations that maximize security.

Match Lighting to Property Size

The presence or acreage of your home determines the right amount of security lights needed. Recommended minimums include:

Small property – 1-2 porch lights plus perimeter flood lights covering driveway and rear.

Standard house – Lights at front and rear entrances, side yards, plus flood lights across driveway and back areas.

Large house – Illumination spanning the full perimeter plus spotlighting hidden alcoves and empty setback spaces.

Multi-acre rural property – Bright, widespread flood lighting covering the full perimeter, gates, outbuildings and driveways with no dark spots for criminals to hide.

The bigger the property, the more critical it is to create consistent wall-to-wall illumination denying criminals concealment anywhere on the premises after dark.

Choosing the Optimal Lights

With your goals and needs defined, compare products and brands based on:

  • Total light output – Look for lumen ratings from 6,000 to 20,000+ to determine brightness.
  • Coverage area – Match stated mounting height ranges and light spread to your space.
  • Detection features – Seek models with adjustable motion sensors, timers and photocells.
  • Build quality – Heavier duty metal housings resist elements and impacts.
  • Smart capabilities – If using a smart home platform, ensure compatibility.
  • Warranty – Robust warranties like 5 years demonstrate confidence in longevity.
  • Pricing – While cost is a factor, avoiding the cheapest models ensures sufficient quality.

Reputable brands like Maxsa, Lithonia Lighting, Ring, and Philips offer reliable outdoor security lights with robust features. Investing in durable, feature-rich lighting leads to better protection and fewer maintenance hassles over years of service.


Installing appropriate, strategically positioned outdoor security lighting enhances visibility and safety on your property after dark. When selecting outdoor security lights:

  • Evaluate your specific lighting needs and goals
  • Choose fixture types and features that balance illumination power with smart convenience
  • Carefully place lights leaving no concealment opportunities for criminals
  • Scale total lighting to property size to avoid dark pockets a criminal could leverage
  • Select rugged, weatherproof models offering the best value from leading brands

With the right security lights providing complete corner-to-corner coverage, you can take back control after dark from opportunistic criminals seeking concealment. Your home or business gains an essential 24/7 defense.

Want help selecting the perfect outdoor security lighting? Consult our Outdoor Lighting Buying Guide for tips and top product recommendations.

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