Best Outdoor Security Lights: Motion vs LED vs Solar

best security lightsPut yourself in the mind of a burglar. Do you choose to go for the brightly lit home with half a dozen security lights around the perimeter, or to the home with no lights and plenty of dark corners? The answer is simple. A dark home at night is like a sign for a burglar: “Come on in—no one’s home!”

This problem can be solved with proper outdoor security lighting. Several types of security lighting are available, but we’ll examine the top picks from three categories: motion-sensor lights, LED flood lights, and solar flood lights. Learn why we chose them, when they should be used, and what other customers have to say about them.

Why security lights are a good investment

The most important thing outdoor lighting provides is security. Thieves won’t want to hang around in brightly lit areas—not only can you see activity outside your home, but so can your neighbors. While a beam of light won’t physically stop an intruder, it will make your home a far less enticing target. It’s better to deter burglars entirely than to try to stop them once they break into your home.

Security lights have other benefits as well. In the dark, the journey from your car to the porch can be hazardous. Rocks, toys that haven’t been put away, and other tripping hazards may litter the path—but security lights are good for more than just seeing where you step. Some insurance companies offer premium incentives for homes with proper security lighting, and outdoor lighting arranged in aesthetically pleasing ways can actually increase a home’s property value.

Already know what you’re looking for? Jump to the right lights for you.

Motion-sensor lights

Motion sensors provide lighting only when you need it, making them cost-effective options (particularly when you pair motion sensors with LEDs). The sudden illumination of a darkened area draws attention to it, potentially scaring off thieves—but that sudden illumination can be less convenient if the lights are triggered by squirrels or other small creatures. Finding the right balance in motion sensitivity is the key.

RAB Super Stealth 360

The RAB Super Stealth detects motion from 180 degrees around it and 360 degrees below it, meaning if a burglar were to try to sneak under an area blocked by the sensors, the light would still activate. The lights shut off completely during the daytime, preventing unnecessary power consumption. When active, the lights can be programmed to remain on for anywhere from 5 seconds to 12 minutes.

When the sensors are triggered, up to 1,000 watts of light floods the area around the RAB Super Stealth. The circuits are shielded to prevent interference with other frequencies (which can prevent the motion sensor from working properly), and the housing for the camera is UL rated for wet conditions. The RAB Super Stealth has an overwhelming number of five-star reviews. The primary customer complaint dealt with the sensors; some customers experienced malfunctioning sensors that caused the lights to activate at odd times or not at all. Should this happen, the product is covered under the company warranty.

The RAB earns its top spot on our list because of the wide sensor range, the adjustable timing and sensitivity, and the approval from previous customers.

Tech specs

  • Price: $97.47
  • Twin bulb mounts
  • 360-degree motion detection beneath, 180-degree outwards
  • 1000-watt lighting

Pros

  • Huge sensor range
  • Illuminates a large area
  • Long-lasting bulbs

Cons

  • Some units have malfunctioning sensors
  • Only works with some LED bulbs

Home Zone Motion-Activated Security Lights

If the RAB Super Stealth is a bit too pricey for your tastes, the Home Zone might be a better fit for you. The Home Zone has two bulb mounts that each produce 2,500 lumens of light, or around the same amount of light as a 40-watt incandescent bulb. The sensors detect any motion below or around within 180 degrees and can be adjusted to pick up motion 50 feet in front of it, slightly less than the RAB Super Stealth’s 60-foot detection range.

You can program the lights to activate only at dusk, but they also have a manual override feature that allows the lights to remain on indefinitely. The most impressive thing about Home Zone lights is their lifespan—an estimated 22 years at six hours per day. The LEDs mean the Home Zone lights use less power and are far more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs would be.

The Home Zone, like the RAB, has a large number of positive reviews from customers, but it does have a few notable downsides. Although the lights are LED, the mount and sensors use a lot of power from a single circuit, meaning that using more than one of these lights on the same circuit runs the risk of overloading it. Make sure to stay within the proper electrical allowances; if you aren’t sure what these are for your home, consult an electrician. Despite this potential downside, the low cost and brightness make the Home Zone a solid choice for an outdoor security light.

Tech specs

  • Price: $69.99
  • Twin bulb mounts
  • 180-degree detection side to side and in front
  • 2,500 lumens

Pros

  • Low cost
  • 22-year lifespan
  • Very bright

Cons

  • Requires a dedicated circuit
  • Sensor sometimes fails to register motion

LED flood lights

LED lights are known for their energy efficiency, but even more notable than that is their longevity. LED lights last an average of 20,000 to 50,000 hours with proper operation, which means you could leave your lights on for 12 hours per day for 11 years. LEDs produce no heat, which means no wasted energy and a significantly reduced fire hazard. In addition, LED lights are the most environmentally-friendly option; there is no mercury, lead, or carbon used in their production. LEDs are usually the best choice for lighting, unless they’re in an enclosed fixture—LEDs require air circulation around them, or the bulbs will lose their brightness and burn out within a few years.

All-Pro Twin Head Floodlight

The All-Pro Twin Head Floodlight is the perfect choice for someone who wants to ensure that nothing passes by unseen. With 1,600 lumens of light, the All-Pro is bright, but some reviewers warn that the light is a bit too white; it doesn’t resemble daytime lighting as much as some would like. On the other hand, the All-Pro focuses more on aesthetics than any light on our list, so it will look good on the side of most any home, making the All-Pro a great choice for someone looking increase their property value.

The All-Pro has an estimated lifespan of 35,000 hours, and it’s built with energy efficiency in mind; All-Pro claims the light can result in savings of up to 90% over traditional lights. You don’t need tools to install this light, as it comes with an “easy install” kit that streamlines the process.

The primary customer complaint was that the light doesn’t sit flush inside a standard junction box, but rather requires a piece of fascia or wall to properly mount. Even though the All-Pro Twin Head produces fewer total lumens than its competitors, the dual bulbs provide a wider range of light and earn it our top recommendation for an LED floodlight.

Tech specs

  • Price: $59.99
  • Twin bulb mounts
  • 35,000-hour lifespan
  • 1,600 lumens

Pros

  • Bright light
  • Very long lifespan
  • Significant energy savings
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Light doesn’t fit flush against the wall

All-Pro LED Floodlight

The All-Pro LED floodlight is similar to the twin-head floodlight in terms of lifespan and price, but it produces the light via a single, less-directed bulb. One customer review mentioned that two of these lights lit their “backyard up like a stadium.” With an estimated 35,000-hour lifespan, the All-Pro is a great choice for mounting on the eave of a roof, as it will require little to no maintenance.

Like the All-Pro twin-head, the LED floodlight produces a harsh, white light; the brightness level was the main point of concern for multiple reviewers. However, this light will also deter criminals and pests from around your home, if only because of its intensity. We prefer twin-head mounts because the light covers a wider area, but the directed intensity of this floodlight can be useful when you want to illuminate a specific section of the yard.

Tech specs

  • Price: $73.62
  • Single-bulb mount
  • 35,000-hour lifespan
  • 1,900 lumens

Pros

  • Lights up a large area
  • Very long lifespan
  • Little to no maintenance required

Cons

  • Harsh, almost too-bright light that can be blinding at night
  • Less direction in lighting

Solar flood lights

Solar lights require no wiring and can work with or without a motion detector. Of course, using them with a motion detector makes them far more energy efficient, because the lights only drain power when the sensors are activated. These lights are environmentally friendly and usually produce as much light as non-wired lighting. A final bonus is that solar flood lights require almost no maintenance.

Sun Force Solar Floodlight

The primary advantage of solar lighting is the complete lack of wiring to power it; however, that is also its downside. Because of the limited charge capacity, a solar flood light won’t stay on all night. Sun Force approached this issue by making its flagship light motion-activated, conserving power until it’s needed. If you’d prefer to keep the light on all night, there is an override switch that allows you to keep an area constantly illuminated.

The Sun Force floodlight produces 1,000 lumens of light from three separate lights, and the motion sensor is sensitive to activity within 30 feet of the sensor at a 180-degree angle to the sides and the front. There are also three pre-programmed settings for how long the lights will stay on: 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and 120 seconds.

The Sun Force is highly rated by other customers, but there are a few concerns. Multiple reviewers have expressed frustration with the sensor; while it should be sensitive up to 30 feet, many people said it failed to detect them at 10 feet. On the other hand, multiple reviews also mentioned the durability of this light. The Sun Force’s affordable price, powerful sensor, and high lumen count make it our top pick for a solar floodlight.

Tech specs

  • Price: $119.00
  • Triple-head mount with a total of 150 LEDs
  • 1000 lumens

Pros

  • No wiring necessary
  • 15-foot cable from the solar panel to the light allows distance between light and sensor
  • Three adjustable heads

Cons

  • Limited battery power
  • Sensor sensitivity issues

MicroSolar Solar-powered Floodlight

The MicroSolar is more expensive than the other lights on this list, but the complete lack of electricity usage allows it to pay for itself over time. The light is made of aluminum and has an IP-65 weatherproof rating, letting it hold up against the elements.

The MicroSolar produces 500 lumens of light from 120 LEDs. The MicroSolar’s light is a natural white that resembles daylight, unlike some of the harsher types of light. The light has an automatic dusk-till-dawn sensor, and can operate continuously for anywhere from 8 to 12 hours per day.

Based on the average review, customers are satisfied with the light. One thing you should be aware of is its limited coverage area—while the MicroSolar functions well as a security light, it doesn’t illuminate as large an area as a hardwired light would. Some customers also mentioned the installation instructions were confusing and hard to understand.

Tech specs

  • Price: $300
  • Single-bulb head
  • 2-year battery life
  • 500 lumens

Pros

  • Automatic daylight sensor
  • Natural white light
  • No wiring needed

Cons

  • Limited coverage area
  • High price point

Choosing the right outdoor security light for your home

Before you begin your search for a security light, ask yourself these questions:

  • Where do I want a light?
  • What part of the yard/driveway/patio do I want illuminated?
  • Do I want to hardwire a light?
  • Do I want a decorative or utilitarian light?

If you only want a security light to help you see in the dark, a softer solar-powered light would be a solid choice. However, if your aim is to deter criminals, a motion sensor or flood light might be the better option. Determine whether you want to aim the light towards a certain area or if you want to illuminate all of your property.

You should also keep in mind the potential for light pollution. Your neighbors will be unhappy if you install a security light that ends up pointed straight through their bedroom window. If you intend to use the security lights as a future selling point for your home, choose lights that are more decorative in appearance rather than utilitarian.

Light it up

At the start of this article, I asked you to think like a burglar. Which one of the above lights seems the most intimidating? Which one fits your needs best? Take the time to evaluate all of the options and then make a decision. Additional light around your home provides visibility so you can safely navigate your yard at night, while making your home a less-appealing target to the potential thief.

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