Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Ridiculously Easy $8 Home Security Upgrade

Home automation has come a long way, baby. Lighting is one of those things that make your home just a little bit safer, so setting up automated systems in place to turn on lights is a really cheap and easy step to make your home less tempting to would-be thieves.

Automating anything used to mean one of those noisy timers, and those of you who have used the “old school” kind know exactly how ticky and loud they are. On the other hand, they are very cheap and incredibly easy to set up, so I guess I can’t complain too much. We do put some of our lamps on daily digital timers, which are just as easy to use and completely silent. Both of these kinds of timers plug right into the wall socket, have a clock to determine on-off times, and most come with an “override” switch so if it gets dark early you can go ahead and have your lamp on.

Incidentally, daily timers are great if you use any kind of electronic air freshener like a Febreeze plug in or a wax warmer, because then you’re not wasting fragrance when you’re not even at home. We schedule ours to come on about fifteen minutes before we get home from work, and it’s so nice to open the door to the house smelling good.

But how do you automate things that are hard wired, like porch lights, rather than plugged in like lamps are? Well, if you have a little bit of electrical know how (we don’t), you can install a timer switch right into the wall. These allow for more sophisticated timing than a daily timer – for example, different schedules for different days of the week – but the switch is not exactly glamorous looking. I recently found an even easier, cheaper solution: photo-sensing light bulbs! The difference between timers and photo-sensors is that timers work on a prescribed interval (like 8 AM to 8 PM), where photo-sensors just cut on whenever it gets dark.

Philips 429746 Energy Saver Dusk-to-Dawn CFL bulb

We bought two Philips Energy Saver Dusk-to-Dawn14-watt CFL bulbs. The little red dot at the base of the bulb is the photo-sensor that monitors how dark it is outside. These are actually designed to go on at dusk, so they turn on before it’s completely dark outside, which we like. We currently have two carriage style porch lights, and I was a little bit concerned the light from one might cause the sensor in the other to trip and not come on, but they work perfectly. I do notice that on especially cloudy or dark days sometimes they stay on, but because they’re CFL bulbs the energy usage isn’t a big deal. I love that when the days are short and it gets dark before we get home, the our house is automatically lit up before we even get home.

Philips 429746 Energy Saver Dusk-to-Dawn CFL bulb

So there you have it: the easiest $8 you will ever spend to make your home more secure.

The easy to install, energy efficient $8 home security upgrade, via A Maryland Matisse blog.


  1. Great idea. Thanks for the tip.

  2. I love this! I have always used timers for lamps, as I also hate walking into a dark home. I knew there were sensor lights for outside, but I thought they were solar based. These light bulbs are such a great thing for front porch and back garage area.

  3. I just found your blog attempting to figure out what our flooring selections would be with Ryan in Warrenton, VA. Thank you so much for your wit, and great content! These lightbulbs are amazing! Thanks for posting.