Security Lights That Track Intruders

Security Lights That Track Intruders

The history of motion activated sensors for alarms can be traced back to the 1950’s when New York inventor Samuel Bagno used his knowledge of radar from World War II to develop the first motion sensing alarm. It didn’t take long for motion activated security lights to follow and they are now common place. The logic behind deploying security lights is simple:

Many burglars, trespassers, and other assorted intruders, like to operate under the cover of darkness. In simple terms – they don’t like “good people” to see what they are up to. Illuminating an area such as an entry way, walkway or parking lot sends a powerful psychological message to would be intruders that they will be noticed.

Industrial-grade motion lighting system are quite good. They provide a long detection area and the motion detector can sense 180 degrees side-to-side and 360 degrees up and down. They are either “Active” motion sensors that send out a signal and when something blocks that signal the sensor is triggered. Or, they are “passive” motion sensors. Passive sensors pick up infrared signals emitted by body heat. If the sensor notices infrared energy, the motion detector is triggered and the light turns on.

But the common motion activated “passive” residential flood lights used on most garages, walkways, and small buildings leave a lot to be desired. Some of these lights have such anemic illumination that they don’t really have the capability to sufficiently light up a dark sidewalk, driveway, or even a dark area of a yard.

Along with the low illumination, many are timed to only illuminate for a few seconds once motion is no longer detected. They might give a homeowner some sense of security but they don’t offer much of a deterrent effect on an intruder or just some ne’er-do-well cutting across the property.

Security Lights that Track the Intruder

Technology always moves forward and motion activated security lights that not only illuminate once the sensor is triggered but also track the target with the light have been around for a number of years. But only recently has the technology advanced to the point that these motion activated tracking security lights have become affordable for the average homeowner or small business person.

Now days for somewhere around $200 you can buy a decent easy-to-install motion activated flood light that will sufficiently light up an area once the sensor is triggered and it will also “track” the intruder with the light. This not only increases a sense of security but provides a greater deterrent effect. When an intruder realizes that they are being watched and tracked by the light, they are more motivated to quickly leave than if they just encounter a low-wattage security light that turns on for a few seconds and then goes dark.

Motion Activated Tracking Security Lights as Part of an Overall Layered Security Approach

When I do security consulting, I often recommend motion activated tracking security lights as part of an overall layered security approach. There are a number of manufacturers and some are better than others depending on the location of deployment. Some have a “creeper” detection feature, decoy camera alert, and one even has a wireless alarm that notifies you when the camera is activated.

I have no connection with any particular manufacturer or vendor but have included links to two YouTube videos that show the features of two of these lights and how they work.  &

No security light can prevent or deter all crime. But a good quality motion activated security camera system that detects and sufficiently illuminates and tracks intruders can be a strong component of an overall layered security system. And, readers should be aware that sometimes using blue light, instead of the prosaic white or yellow light normally found in most security lights, can also pat a part in enhancing overall premise security. See previous article “Outdoor Security Lighting: Consider Going Blue.”

George W. Babnick, is a 34 year law enforcement veteran with an extensive background in physical security, criminal and administrative investigations, training, school policing, supervision and management, and criminal forensics. He retired as a Captain in the Portland Oregon Police Bureau where he managed the Training, School Police, and Forensic Evidence Divisions. He holds criminal justice degrees from Portland Community College and Portland State University and a law degree from Northwestern California University School of Law, Sacramento California. Mr. Babnick is a longtime member of the Western Society of Criminology and is the author of articles on security and law enforcement, investigations, supervision and management, and risk management related to these subjects. As a physical security expert, George Babnick provides private physical security consultations across the United States and consults with clients outside the United States. He specializes in assessing security problems for small and medium businesses as well as select individuals. He offers independent, honest advice and expertise, with the goal of providing all clients with practical and cost-effective security solutions to enhance security and effectively manage business and personal security risks. Mr. Babnick is also a licensed Private Investigator and conducts investigations for attorneys, businesses, and individuals throughout the State of Oregon. To learn more about security consultation and investigative services offered, please visit Disclaimer: Nothing in any article on this blog should be construed as legal advice. Persons seeking legal advice should seek the counsel of an attorney licensed in their state.