Security lighting in residential estates

October 2016 Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Residential Estate (Industry)

Lighting has become a large portion of the security budget for new lifestyle estates. The expense is not so much the cost of the light fitting but rather the electrical infrastructure required to power these lights. Lighting is typically installed along perimeter fencing and walls, at the entry and exit points to the estate, and some estates opt for lighting up streets and walkways too.

Bruno Jones
Bruno Jones

A number of studies have been conducted on the effects of lighting on crime. These have proven inconclusive, with some reporting a decrease in crime while others report an increase. One undeniable fact has emerged from these studies: good lighting increases perceived public safety and leads to greater use of public spaces within neighbourhoods by law-abiding citizens. Couple this with guard patrols, restricted access and high walls, and the perceived public safety within estates increases exponentially. However, it’s important to stress the word perceived.

To truly secure a lifestyle estate, electronic CCTV surveillance equipment is needed, but CCTV cameras require good lighting. Providing this level of lighting on the perimeter and within the estate would lead to it looking like a detention facility. The solution is to provide good infrared illumination for the CCTV cameras, which is invisible to the human eye. Once an incident has been detected, by video analytics or a control room operator, a visible white light should be turned on. This serves two purposes: firstly, good CCTV footage will be captured for prosecution of the perpetrators; and secondly, the responding security guards will be able to see and respond to the affected area where the incident is taking place.

Lighting requirements

The typical requirement for security lighting is to provide good lighting without disturbing the residents within the estate, and without blinding road users external to the estate as most estates border on public roads. This not only requires that the light has adequate lumen output but also that the output illumination is lensed correctly for the area it has to illuminate. A typical example is that a 120 degree floodlight with about 8000 lumen output is required to light up a 60 metre length of perimeter fencing. This leads to an unnecessarily large area being flooded with light. A more efficient solution would be a 2800 lumen floodlight with 20 degree lenses. This light would not only save power but is also less intrusive and just as effective as the larger 8000 lumen floodlight.

BFR Digital’s infrared illuminators and 2800 lumen floodlight have a small form factor of only 164 mm x 199 mm x 38 mm. They deliver 2800 lumens from only 23 Watts of power, making them 50% more efficient than the LED industry norm. In addition, we have deployed Power-over-Ethernet technology which means that we allow for a maximum CAT5e cable length of 100 metres. This topology greatly reduces the electrical infrastructure spend for lighting.

We have also just completed development of a new 11800 lumen floodlight with lensing. These will be installed for perimeter security of a new lifestyle estate being launched in 2018, and will be installed as a 100 metre or a 200 metre floodlight. Some farmers have also expressed interest in this product to be used as a tactical light.

LEDs not ready to lead the market

LED (light emitting diode) technology is gaining traction within the residential estate sector. However, the market has not yet fully matured and a lot of user education is needed. There are inexpensive LED illuminators available but these units produce ineffective lighting for CCTV cameras and they also don’t last for the period advertised on the box. This has left some users and developers disillusioned with LED technology.

The main advantages of LED lighting are:

(1) Energy efficiency, e.g. 2800 lumen from 23 Watts as opposed to 55 Watts from a CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulb, which also contains mercury.

(2) They are available in a wide range of colour temperatures, e.g. ‘cool’ white or ‘warm’ white.

(3) They are available with a high colour-rendering index. This is a quantitative measure of the LED’s ability to reproduce the colours of various objects faithfully in comparison with natural light.

(4) LEDs can be fitted with lenses to vary the angle of light and illuminate only the required area.

(5) They exhibit life spans as long 40 000 hours.

The disadvantages of LED lighting are:

(1) As constant current source devices, LEDs require stable power and effective surge protection.

(2) LEDs generate a lot of heat. Their performance largely depends on correctly engineering the fixture to manage the heat generated.

Convincing developers and system integrators on the energy savings of LEDs is ineffective as they typically aren’t concerned with the total cost of ownership. Where the energy savings argument wins is when the estate is ‘sold’ as being eco-environment friendly, a green energy estate or as a future / technology estate. Alternatively, LED lighting is sold for its flexibility in relation to small size, high lumen output relative to size, and the manner in which lenses can be fitted to direct the light.


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