Use Wired and Solar Lights To Improve Home Security

Defending your home and family takes some thought. In general. the more layers of defense you add, the lower your risk is. For example, lights, security alarm, security cameras, dogs, radio running, etc. You can’t eliminate risk but you can certainly lower it to a level you judge as acceptable. An easy deterrent for you to add or improve is outdoor lighting and the reason is simple – people with malicious intents prefer the shadows and don’t want to be lit up for everyone to see.

Hard Wired Lights

When I say “hard wired”, I am talking about lights that are connected to the premises electrical power, such as 120 volts AC in the US. Most folks have at least porch lights and perhaps garage lights. Run them. These are deterrents – if people up to no good see a well lit home, it reduces their interest. Note that I did not say it makes 100% of them skip your home but the cost is trivial these days. If you are worried about cost, install LED bulbs – they seriously cut down power use. It used to be that LED bulbs cost a fortune but you can now routinely find them on sales for $1-2/ea.

Don’t want to run your lights all the time – 24×7? Granted you are wasting money and the lights running may signal “nobody is home”. We do not run out lights around the clock for both reasons – just dusk to dawn.

There are light sensors that simply screw in between the light and the lamp receptacle. Want timers? You can go with timers that flip the switch, timers that replace the switch and even smart programmable switches that connect to your WiFi and you can load schedules, etc. There are even programmable lights that have speakers in them to extend smart home sound systems — remember that an LED light element is going to last a long, long time all things being equal so it’s not as weird as it may sound.

Solar Lights

If you look at your property, odds are there are a lot of dark spots at night – we do. Running power to these areas wasn’t realistic but at the same time I wondered what I could do to light some of them up strategically. The short answer is solar security lights – not just the very dim walkway lights you see in garden centers. These lights range from dim to incredibly bright.

It turns out there are a ton of different model lights that can turn on dusk to dawn (or until the battery drains) or have a motion sensor that trips for some period of time (say 10-30 seconds) and then reset. You have options in terms of the brightness, how broad of an area is lit up, and so forth. I have a variety now.

You know what, these are pretty cool. The lights on the house are on all the time but these motion activated security lights not only give you light when you move around at night but they also serve like tripwires – a person (or deer) goes by and the light comes on startling them and they take off.

Here are some of the lights that I use. They all have motion sensors and have survived at least one Michigan winter including the -20F cold spell we had.

To the left you see a real bright solar security light with the motion sensor up top. A nice thing about this model is that long charging cord from the solar panel to the light. The side of the house where the light is located is in the shade. The side of the house where the panel is gets afternoon sun and recharges. This unit is about 3-4 years old and works great. You can see the garage light above and to the right of the solar panel. It is a dusk-to-dawn model. It has compact fluorescent bulbs currently but when they fail, I will replace them with LEDs.
You can see the small solar light just above the split in the doors. It’s small but does a great job – the solar panel is in the top of the unit. This Baxia BL-SL-101 light has a motion sensor, 28 LEDs, 400 lumen and comes in a four pack. This is one of my go-to lights when I just need a medium amount of light.
This is a Lemontek unit with 62 LEDs and the thing kicks out 2,000 lumen. It has a number of settings including dusk to dawn and motion sensor. We have a number of these and they do a great job. It is one of the models I use when I want a lot of light. You’ll notice a Baxia light back in the recessed area. The Lemontek covers a very broad area and the little one is just for the gate.
Here’s an example of one of our Baxia lights set up in a dark area of our yard. It has started a ton of deer when it has turned on unexpectedly at night due to its motion sensor.
This is an Aootek solar light with 48 LEDs, broad 180 degree illumination thanks to the angled panels, and while they don’t advertise the lumen (brightness), I can tell you it kicks out a lot of light.
This is a 4 year old Hallomall light. They stopped selling these when they introduced a new design so I switched to the Baxia brand. These came in a three pack and all still work. They sell other models that I have not tried.

The cheapest place I have found to buy these is Amazon and I read the reviews. Some have a ton of legitimate reviews and others have none at all – go with the model with more good reviews as opposed to fewer and taking a gamble. If you get a piece of junk, Amazon does have really good customer service but treat that as your safety net and try to buy the best you can. Note, some lights are sold individually and others come in 2, 4 or even larger quantity packages and it pays to do the math and see what is cheaper given the lights you need.

Solar lights do need sunlight to recharge so factor that into your plans. Also, they use batteries. I haven’t needed to open one up yet to replace them but I suspect some of them I will be able to replace the battery and others I will just need to replace the light due to age and oxidation of the solar panel and lens over the LEDs.

Smart Home Systems

Another category of lighting is taking off and those are the ones that are linked to smart home systems such as the Amazon Alexa. You can use voice control to turn on and off lights, set timers and much more through connected switches, outlets and other accessories. We use an Alexa in the kitchen and have a few Dots in other rooms. They are really handy once you get used to them.


Light up your property to deter vandals, burglars and trespassers. You have so many options using lights running off AC power to the tons and tons of options using solar. I use the AC light so people can see the area around the house is lit up and then I use solar lights to trip as needed and light up dark areas. Look at your property and consider how you might combine them with other security elements to reduce your risks.

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