General Question

miasmom's avatar

Is it safer to leave the porch light on all night or off?

Asked by miasmom (3485 points ) March 11th, 2009 from iPhone

Or does it not matter at all? I think if the light is on, then it is easier access for intruders, but other people might happen to notice also, which could be a deterant for intruders.

If it is off, it might be harder access for intruders? But then I’m sure they have flashlights, but that will also draw attention.

Any thoughts?

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14 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I leave the light on until I go to bed.

I left it off one night and a man came to my door and pressed his face against the glass peering in. My neighbor saw and called 911 even before I could. (My dog alerted me.) I do not think he would have done that if the light had been off.

gailcalled's avatar

@Mh: I think you got the “ons’ and “offs” confused in your last paragraph. Maybe you should be packing your Grandma’s China for the nest half hour.

casheroo's avatar

We have one out front that’s motion sensored.
My parents turn their’s on at night, then off when they go to bed.

dynamicduo's avatar

In general, light scares away criminals, or put another way, criminals prefer the dark.

The best approach is a motion detection light, but they can be annoying if you live somewhere where they will go on and off all night (our neighbor had one in his backyard which faced onto a walking path, the light went on and off all night long).

As for any actual statistics proving this… I suppose those would be hard if not impossible to determine (criminals won’t report honestly, and the burden shouldn’t be put on police or first responders to note whether a light was on or off).

Les's avatar

My parents have a motion sensor porch light that is off most of the time, except when it senses motion (how novel, right?). I don’t know that it matters much, it may scare someone away if they weren’t expecting a light to come on, but then again, most burglars don’t use the front door, do they? The problem is that it’ll turn on when the stray cats come to curl up on the stairs.

My college apartment had a front and back door, and the back door was convenient for my roommate and I to use when walking to the bar. My friend once pointed out that our turning the back porch light on meant: We are gone, but when we come back, we’ll be coming in from the back. I thought that was kind of funny, and true.

Dorkgirl's avatar

Usually on until I let the dog out for the last time, then off for the rest of the night.
When I’m by myself and my husband is out of town, I usually leave it on all night. I just makes me feel safer.
I believe the light is a deterent to the criminal elements. Our front porch is pretty open, so if they were poking around with the light on someone would see them.

SpatzieLover's avatar

If you’re leaving for a week? You’re inviting intruders.

If your teens are out and you want them to be able to see the door when they come home, then leave it on.

If you’re forgetful and consequently leave it on all day when you’re at work and don’t have a dog, you’ll probably come home to less valuables.

VS's avatar

I prefer leaving it off. But we have motion-sensor lights on the front. The secret is to not have the motion-sensor set too delicately, or every cat in the neighborhood will set it off. We have ours set so that it only detects human-sized movement. I guess I could be concerned about pint-sized burglars, but I’m not. I have a nice .357 waiting for the next thief who decides my house looks like a nice target.
Porch lights on, to me, seem to say no one is home, or we are waiting for someone to come home.

essieness's avatar

I prefer to leave mine on all night. I’m in with the group that feels like the light deters intruders.

robmandu's avatar

I’ll reiterate the motion detector light.

Pros:
– easy to install
– only on when needed
– not on during the day advertising, “I’m not home.”
– duration is usually config’able.

Cons:
– you gotta buy it.

marinelife's avatar

@gailcalled Right, as always.

Edit: last sentence: on not off.

Mr_M's avatar

The light draws attention to your house but also suggests that someone is home. I know people who, when they are out, have a lamp in one of the rooms with a blue bulb that goes on automatically (using a timer) in the evening. From outside, it looks like the television is on, i.e., someone is home watching it.

Years ago I was being followed by someone with a knife at about 4 in the morning (long story). It was the house with the front porch light on that I instinctively went to for help. I felt that no one was home in the homes that were totally dark.

Dorkgirl's avatar

@SpatzieLover—I’m going to say it depends on where you live.
We live in an urban neighborhood and in 20 years there has only been one attempted break-in on our street or the adjacent streets.
We leave our light on or off depending on how aware we are, and we have often left the house with the doors unlocked and windows open. The dog is there, but now she’s rather deaf and going blind so not much help until you’re in the house and have startled her. The only thing she reliably barks at any more is the mailman.
I’m sure we are tempting fate, but I don’t believe there’s any one answer to the on or off question.

kolliegold's avatar

First of all it’s “is THERE a difference”.
Secondly, I think it is very rude to leave your porch lights on because sometimes they shine right in their neighbors window.

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