Outlook Bright for Security Lighting

Illuminating the premises is a critical component of the complete protection plan

It has been a whirlwind ride for the security industry the last several years. Not only is there a newfound awareness of and need for security, but technological innovation and computer-based components have found their way to nearly every facet of manufacturing. New products are less expensive, more intuitive, easier to use and—best of all—offer a solution for nearly every type of problem that may emerge in the security environment.

Security lighting is integral to any site, and should be part of the initial plan or audit. It’s an exacting science, and what requires lighting and how it is illuminated must be planned in advance.

According to Douglas Paulin, LC, IESNA and owner of Lighting Forensics in Egg Harbor, Wis., lighting for safety and security has become the norm in many different types of facilities, but especially in high-risk applications, such as shipping ports and water treatment or power plants, with much of the activity dictated by Homeland Security. Paulin, a lighting designer and consultant, said that proper security lighting doesn’t mean simply flooding the area with light—it is a conscious use of illumination throughout a facility.

“There’s certainly a national consciousness about security lighting, but for the most part, many think that more is better, and that’s just not the case,” Paulin said. “While you want to use lighting as a way to prevent property damage, vandalism and break-ins, effective security lighting is also used to direct people to or from specific areas. You may decide not to light an area where you don’t want people to gather. Also, the more uniform the light, the better it is for security. There is also a set pattern of lighting for automated teller machines, etc.”

Paulin is the former chair and current member of the IES Security Lighting Committee of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA). IESNA publications on security lighting include: G-01-03 Guideline for Security Lighting for People, Property and Public Spaces and the Lighting Handbook. The association also recently implemented an online course at www.iesna.org called “Security Lighting from the Ground Up.”

According to Michael Stevens, LC, IESNA, CLC and senior market specialist, Cooper Lighting/SOURCE, Peachtree City, Ga., G-01-03 outlines several objectives when designing security lighting. “Some of the objectives as stated are: areas should be lit in such a way as to provide a clear field of view; deny potential hiding places; permit facial identification from at least 30 feet away; facilitate the use of security devices; and deter crime and enhance the public’s feeling of comfort.”

Stevens added that lighting ATMs is critical because those types of facilities can be a crime magnet. “Some jurisdictions have ordinances that specify minimum light levels for ATMs or night deposit boxes. Again, referring to G-01-03, objectives include providing high light levels on all surfaces, both horizontal and vertical, not only on the face of the ATM itself, but also the surrounding area. ATM lighting should be designed so that the loss of any one fixture does not compromise the integrity of the job, and it needs to be compatible with other security systems, such as CCTV,” he said.

Glossary of security lighting

Commercial outdoor lighting applications generally dictate the use of one of four different types of lighting under the high-intensity discharge or HID umbrella, said Michael Kreiner, national sales manager, Security Lighting Systems, a division of Hubbell Lighting Inc. in Buffalo Grove, Ill. Those include metal halide, high-pressure sodium, mercury vapor and low-pressure sodium. Mercury vapor, he added, is becoming an outdated technology and low-pressure sodium is generally used in areas with that requirement as a part of their dark skies ordinances because it casts a yellow light that is not recommended in conjunction with CCTV cameras where determining colors of objects is key. High-pressure sodium is slightly more efficient than its metal halide counterpart, but generally not enough to outweigh the negative effect of the yellow quality of the light it emits, so metal halide is the most common source for outdoor lighting today.

Kreiner said there’s a keen interest in this niche and more and more lighting is being deployed for security purposes. “Typically, you need a minimum of three to five footcandles for security lighting, and a good, uniform light without bright patches or dark areas in the layout. In areas with CCTV cameras, metal halide present the best scenario for incorporating lighting with these devices,” he added.

One of the growing trends in security lighting is the continued switch to metal halide due to its superior color rendering properties and balanced white light, said Bob Nigrello, HID Product Group Manager, OSRAM SYLVANIA, Danvers, Mass. “This trend is at the expense of high-pressure sodium and to a lesser extent, mercury lamps, although mercury seems to be the choice of the residential sector,” he said.

“Security lighting adds protection from would-be attackers, by allowing identification and observation of possible security threats. Corporations are realizing that secure building lighting is cost effective in enhancing employee moral by providing safe working conditions both inside and outside the workplace. More light seems to be a trend, however building codes and responsible use of light to minimize light pollution and glare are essential in a good security lighting program,” he said.

Not only is metal halide a growing trend in security lighting, but pulse start metal halide and high-wattage compact fluorescents continue to gain in popularity, said Darrin Hoyle, LC, IESNA, LS and market specialist, Cooper Lighting/SOURCE.

“These ‘whiter’ sources have a higher Color Rendering Index (CRI) rating, typically 65 or greater, with some pulse start and compact fluorescents offering a CRI of more than 80, whereas high pressure sodium has a very low CRI of around 22. In addition, the high-wattage compact fluorescents in most cases have amalgam in the lamp, which is an additive that greatly expands their operating temperatures and allows them to perform well in cold and hot environments,” Hoyle added.

Nuisance light a no-no

Currently emerging are initiatives to take control of nuisance light, according to Pamela K. Horner, Environmental Marketing Manager, OSRAM SYLVANIA. The International Dark-Sky Association is about to release its Model Lighting Ordinance for use by communities that wish to control stray light from outdoor luminaries, she said. Information on this ordinance can be found at www.darksky.org.

“This type of ordinance will result in two likely outcomes. There could be an increase in demand for more lower-wattage HID lamp types because of the potential for using shorter poles and lower lighting levels for some applications. There could also be an increase in demand for smaller light sources that are more easily controlled by the optical systems of outdoor cutoff luminaries,” Horner said.

Lighting is an integral part of the total security package. It takes careful planning and an analysis of the premises to deploy it effectively. But without it, consider your facility literally in the dark. EC

O’MARA is the president of DLO Communications in Park Ridge, Ill., specializing in low-voltage. She can be reached at 847.384.1916 or domara@earthlink.net.


About the Author

Deborah L. O'Mara

Freelance Writer
Deborah L. O’Mara is a journalist with more than two decades experience writing about security, life safety and systems integration, and she is the managing director of DLO Communications in Chicago. She can be reached at dlocommunications@gmail.com...

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