The Do's and Dont's Of Porch Lights

The Do's and Dont's Of Porch Lights

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Taryn Williford
Mar 25, 2010

In the same way a few well-placed lamps can revitalize a room, neighborhoods get a face lift when given the proper lighting. A well-lit, bright street is far more more welcoming than a dark row of creaky houses—but does that make it safer? Is it mother-nature-friendly? Should you leave your porch light on all night?

  • DON'T leave the light on all night. It's not green.
  • DO set any overnight nights to a 1/2 power dimmer setting.

  • DO install motion sensors or infrared sensors to shed some bright light on any unexpected late night/early morning activity.
  • DON'T forget that motion sensors can lose effectiveness over time. and DON'T forget to test them occasionally.

  • DON'T leave the light on all day. If you've flipped the switch because you know you won't get home until after dark, you're sending a signal to potential burglars that they've got all day to get to work.
  • Similarly, DON'T leave the light on during a week-long vacation. You might think it's tough to even tell the light's on during the day, but it's more noticeable than you think.
  • DO set your lights to a timer or a solar sensor so they automatically flip each day when it gets dark.

  • DON'T just leave the light on at the specific entryway you know you're coming home through. A back porch light left glowing on a Saturday night tells potential intruders that you're out at the bars and returning home through the back door.

  • DON'T just turn the light on when you feel vulnerable. Somebody staking out your home might know your spouse is out of town when your home security patterns change.
  • DO keep to your normal porch-light-schedule, whatever that is. If you turn the light off every night at 11pm before you go to bed, a light left on past midnight sends the message that you're out late. Set it to a timer instead.

  • DO realize that indoor lights can help with safety, too. A blue light bulb set to a random timer looks like a television being turned on and off inside.

(Images: Flickr users Adam Sacco and SFAntti, under license from Creative Commons.)

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