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Outdoor security lights can work in several different ways with your home security system. They can be turned on manually, set on a timer, or use motion detectors.
The recommended choices would be a timer or security motion detectors. With the former, your lights will turn themselves on at the same time every night. As the seasons change and the sun sets at different hours the timer can be adjusted. With this option you never have to worry about turning the lights on yourself. Even if you are not home you know the lights will be on when you get there.
Motion detectors can save you a little money with your outdoor lights, turning on only when they are triggered by movement in your yard. The sensitivity and duration can usually be adjusted to fit your desires.
The manual option means that you have to remember to turn the lights on every night. The downside to this is that if you are not at home the lights will be off, leaving part of your home security weakened. This also leaves you and your family vulnerable coming home with no lighting in your yard.