When it comes to a facility’s physical security, lighting is often used as a preventive or corrective measure against intrusions or other criminal activity. It can, however, be counterproductive.

According to Bruce Schneier’s book, “Light and Crime,” in the early 1970s, the San Antonio public school system began leaving many of its school buildings, parking lots and other property dark at night and found that the no-lights policy dramatically cut vandalism. And according to a New Yorker magazine article, “The Dark Side: Making war on light pollution,” bright, unshielded floodlights often prevent people from noticing criminal activity and help criminals see what they are doing. Regardless of such anecdotes, the extrapolated market estimate for all outdoor lighting products is $1.1 billion per year, said Dan Fernandez, director of product management for Schneider Electric’s Juno Lighting Group, Des Plaines, Ill.

To reduce the risk of intrusion, proper lighting must be deployed, and it is critical that the system be designed carefully to avoid glare, which actually obstructs vision. According to Claire O’Reilly, marketing manager at Cooper Lighting, Peachtree City, Ga., outdoor lighting market segments include commercial, architectural, industrial, residential, and utility and public safety.

“Core product categories include site and street lighting, exterior wall- and surface-mount lighting, recessed-mount, floodlighting, sign and sports lighting, and landscape/pathway, tunnel, and decorative and post-top lighting,” she said.

Simpler security lighting projects would normally include area-wide technology, such as flat lights that provide more illumination with fewer fixtures and noncutoff wall-pack fixtures with high-intensity discharge (HID), metal halide or high-pressure sodium sources for use in parking lots or that are mounted to buildings, Fernandez said.

In the mid-range, more sophisticated technology would be used, such as targeted shoebox fixtures. Projects that fall in the middle range also tend to offer the customer more architectural pathway lighting and more sophisticated emergency lighting systems that include backup batteries.

“But the high-end projects are where customers receive more architectural fixtures with more highly sophisticated optics that improve both performance and aesthetics, whether the fixtures are wall- or pole-mounted,” Fernandez said.

In addition, more energy-efficient technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), are present in security lighting projects at the higher end.

“With continuing increases in energy cost, demand constraints on the national power grid, and the rising environmental awareness to conserve energy, the role of controlling light levels and power continue to expand in the market,” O’Reilly said.

Currently, outdoor lighting is mostly monitored and controlled by building circuit switching or an exterior control, such as a photocell, which is integrated into a single fixture or into a panel on the street that controls several fixtures.

End-users are seeking opportunities to provide maximum safety while conserving energy when usage requirements are diminished during off-peak hours.

“Lighting has always played an important role in security. The key is finding the right balance of light levels needed to provide adequate security while also conserving energy, “ she said.

Although it’s not yet common because of the cost, outdoor security lighting can be integrated with a building’s security and building systems to enable remote monitoring and control, Fernandez said.

“These high levels of integration provide the building owner with diagnostics and metrics on energy consumption and mobile device applications. Legal mandates for controls and reductions in energy consumption will continue to drive the integration of outdoor lighting systems with the rest of the building’s management systems,” he said.

Contractor opportunities
O’Reilly believes that the opportunities for electrical contractors, as well as for maintenance and repair companies and electrical wholesalers, are limitless as end-users require their support and guidance to transition from traditional light sources to new higher efficiency products.

Innovative new products and the demand for energy efficiency are perpetuating rapid adoption by customers who are quickly embracing new lighting technologies,” she said.

The most value-added benefit that electrical contractors can deliver to their customers is to be fully trained on new lighting technologies and to learn how to effectively incorporate these strategies into specific projects.

“Product training that incorporates the latest technology is readily available directly through manufacturers or their local representatives,” she said.

Fernandez believes that the market will still see significantly higher prices for new technologies, such as LEDs, that provide more targeted lighting with better control of light patterns, but as technology advances and market acceptance expands, costs will decrease.

“As legislative, environmental, security and technological advancements in lighting keep evolving, contractors are positioned to expand the adoption rate of new products into their lighting projects,” O’Reilly said.


BREMER, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributes frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. She can be reached at 410.394.6966 and darbremer@comcast.net.