Porch Light Safety: Leave it On or Turn it Off?

Porch lights help keep you and your loved ones safe. You don’t fumble for keys or the lock when the light is on; instead, you’re inside the door within moments. The light also deters home burglars who won’t enter a home that looks occupied.

However, leaving the light on isn’t an automatic guarantee of safety. Burglars pay attention to how and when people turn on porch and deck lighting. To prevent them from robbing your home, think about when it’s best to keep the porch light on or off.

When to Turn the Porch Light On

Most of the time, you can leave a porch light on.

  • When you’re home at night, you should leave a light on. It alerts burglars to your presence in the home, particularly if accompanied by indoor lights. The porch light also acts as a spotlight on the front door. You can easily see who’s approaching through either a window or peephole.
  • When you, a roommate, or family member plans to come home late at night, you should turn on the porch light. It helps people get to the door and unlock it safely.
  • When you go out but leave the kids at home, you should also leave a porch light on. You won’t worry about the kids, and they won’t jump at strange shadows. Augment the outdoor light with indoor ones so that burglars believe several people are at home.
  • When expecting a home delivery, it’s wise to turn on the porch light. It helps the delivery person, and it reminds you to grab the package before retiring for the evening.

Generally, a porch light works best when coordinated with deck, garage, and indoor lights. The pairing creates the appearance that people are home and moving about.

When to Turn the Porch Light Off

While you can leave the porch light on most of the time, it’s better to leave it off on some occasions.

  • When you go on vacation, you should turn the porch light off during the day. A constantly lit porch paints a target on your home. You should either have a neighbor turn the light on and off or invest in a light timer (Amazon). The preprogrammed settings maintain the illusion that you’re home.
  • When you go to bed, turn off the porch light, same as you would in any room in the house. Turning off a light regularly shows that the home is in use. Plus, several porch lights available on the market today use infrared sensors and turn on automatically if they sense motion.
  • When you feel anxious about being home alone, you may not want to turn on the porch light. Burglars often stake out a property for weeks before striking. If they notice you turn on the lights more often when your partner, spouse, or roommate is away, they could decide to intrude during one of those time periods.
  • If you live in a rural area, you should leave the porch light off. Intruders won’t be able to see where they’re going and may give you warning that they’re coming. If you’ve invested in motion sensor lights, potential burglars will experience night vision loss, again granting you more time to call the police and turn on every light in the house.

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