If you’re looking at ideas for garden lighting, the chances are you’re responsible for a home and, possibly, a family. That makes you also accountable for protecting that home and family – a heavy responsibility to bear, but one that can be lightened, literally in this case, by ensuring that your security lighting is up-to-date. All home security experts and police forces agree that lighting is a major aspect of any home security system. It stands to reason that the first priority is to ensure that any access points to your home are protected with good locks, nevertheless, once you’ve secured your boundaries, your next step is to make sure that you can recognise and identify any visitors. You’re not going to be able to do that in the dark! However, there is a potential problem; if your security lighting is not properly installed, not only are you in danger of upsetting all of your neighbours, you are also likely to help the unwanted visitor rather than deter him. Any light can improve the security of your home, not just those marketed specifically for security purposes. Consider, wall lights, porch lights, bulkhead lights, floodlights, spotlights, and don’t forget that if you don’t have dedicated PIR lights (the ones that constantly turn themselves on because of the neighbour’s cat!) you can integrate a PIR sensor with most lighting circuits. PIR sensors are invaluable, with one of these in place in each of your security light circuits you won’t have to remember to switch the light on because they will come on whenever movement is detected in their zone of action. Whilst PIR lights are obviously fantastic in the fight against burglary they also the subject of over a quarter of the complaints received by the police when it comes to annoying neighbours. The majority of the problems are caused by improper installation, so before you dash out to buy blackout roller blinds (or blackout vertical blinds- hey we all have our tastes!) for half the street, take a look at the following guidelines. • The optimal angle for a floodlight or spotlight is pointing straight down; if you can’t manage that, aim for 22 degrees from the vertical and never more than 70 degrees from the vertical. • Ensure the PIR sensor is set to cover your own territory; you are not directly responsible for the security of your street or your neighbours’ homes, so you have no need to detect their passing cats, their falling leaves or even their intruders. More to the point, with a too widely set PIR you’ll annoy everybody, including yourself, when the lot comes on and off all night long. • Keep your bulbs to a maximum of 150 watts, any more and, once again, you’ll annoy people. More importantly than annoyance, however, is the fact that the brighter the light, the darker the shadows – so you’ll be creating hiding places for potential intruders. • Fit a timer so that the lights are only on when necessary, and so that you don’t need to remember to switch them on and off. Follow these very simple guidelines when installing security lighting and your home will be safer – and your neighbours will be happy.