Lighting Up

Added on 21 October 2019

Light pollution is becoming more widespread and is increasingly the cause of disputes between neighbours. However, careful planning and correct installation can overcome the potential nuisance caused by aesthetic and security lighting.

The PIR (Passive Infra-Red) 'security' light is one of the most common forms of light pollution. Found in many domestic locations, it consists of halogen or increasingly powerful LED floodlights controlled by a movement sensor. 

Often inappropriately fitted, PIR-controlled floodlights do have their place, but are not necessarily as efficient in a domestic setting as one might imagine, as they:

Sometimes fail to prevent unauthorised access as they are only activated once the trespasser has crossed a boundary.

Create hard shadows in which it is easy to hide.

Produce a harsh and intrusive light with an environmental impact.

Create a 'flash factor' disturbing human vision (dangerous near a road).

Are capable of being activated inadvertently, for example by a passing cat, and are therefore unreliable in attracting a neighbour's attention.

Can cause anxiety if activated for no apparent reason.

An alternative is to install high-efficiency low-energy lighting controlled by a photo-electric cell (dusk to dawn switch).  If installed and angled correctly such low wattage lighting provides environmentally-friendly, cost-efficient, and effective security lighting.

Additionally, consider the neighbours when installing external lights at high level. It is usually easy to fix a screen to protect your neighbour from your light. The closer to the source, the smaller the screen can be. Screens can be an aluminium or plastic shield attached to the fitting itself, or a strategically-positioned stone, ornament or dense plant.


Peter Ryder

Managing Director

Thorntons Property


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