Smarter Solutions & Tech Advances Bring More Power to Security Systems

Selecting and deploying then right power supply is critical for an integrator to ensure reliable system functioning.

Smarter Solutions & Tech Advances Bring More Power to Security Systems

Altronix monitoring (Photo courtesy of Altronix)

Exciting times are ahead for low-voltage integrators and power technology.

The expansive use of new power control modules, batteries, Internet and power over Ethernet (PoE) have created many new opportunities for the systems integrator.

Today’s tech-savvy customers expect integrators to have services that will keep an eye on system power conditions and be proactive in detecting problems. This reduces service calls for the integrator and less task for the customer. New battery technology is making power backup more flexible and reliable.

PoE technology, along with new lighting technology, has created a whole industry for the low-voltage integrator.

Those are just a few of the power wrinkles generating a buzz, and which we will now dip into more deeply. And for a little more fun, solve this puzzle: What do a Nobel Prize winner, PoE and new opportunities for low-voltage technology integrators have in common?

Increase Your RMR

Remote monitoring of power systems can lead to extra recurring monthly revenue (RMR) for the systems integrator. This can be done with upgrading access control and security solutions. This allows for a responsive customer care service program to keep their system healthy and running efficiently.

Customers feel more comfortable and secure when a total integrated solution is provided, including the monitoring of system power resources.

To accomplish these goals, one could apply devices such as the Altronix LINQ8ACM with its built-in LINQ. Altronix has been a leading power supply manufacturer in the security integration industry for years and the LINQ8ACM power supply module is among the supplier’s latest offerings.

The access power controller dual input design allows power to be provided from one or two independent low-voltage 12 or 24VDC Altronix power supplies to eight independently controlled fused protected outputs.

LINQ technology facilitates monitoring, reporting and control of one or two low-voltage AC or supervised DC power supply/chargers over the network. They report diagnostics via email and Windows dashboard alert notifications, greatly reducing system downtime and eliminating unnecessary service calls. The LINQ8ACM retrofits with most currently installed multioutput power supply/chargers.

SLA Vs. Lithium Batteries

For decades the security industry has relied on sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries for backup power. Lately, there is a new kid on the block known as the lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery. We have all seen in the news stories of lithium batteries bursting into flames.

However, LiFePO4 batteries are the safest lithium battery types on the market today.

The nominal voltage of a LiFePO4 cell is 3.2V, compared to SLA’s 2V cells. A 12.8V battery therefore has four cells connected in series and a 25.6V battery has eight cells connected in series. Companies like Powersonic make LiFePO4 batteries that can physically replace SLA batteries.

Why would one want to do that?

The most notable difference between lithium iron phosphate and lead acid is that the lithium battery capacity is independent of the discharge rate. Note that a lower rated lithium battery will often have a higher actual capacity than the comparable lead acid battery.

This means that with the same capacity rating, the lithium will cost more, but you can use a lower capacity lithium battery for the same application at a lower price.

Another major difference between SLA and lithium is the latter’s cyclic performance. It offers a significantly lower total cost of ownership (TCO) with a cost per cycle of approximately 31 cents versus 92 cents for SLA batteries.

Factors impacting these calculations include the fact that LiFePO4 batteries can cycle up to 5,000 times over their lifespan versus only up to 500 cycles for SLA batteries. Additionally, LiFePO4 batteries have a 10-year shelf life, which allows resellers the ability to leverage their buying power as SLA batteries require charging every six months while not in use.

Lithium has 10 times the cycle life of SLA under most conditions. This brings the cost per cycle of lithium lower than SLA, meaning you will have to replace a lithium battery less often than SLA in a cyclic application.

Lithium delivers the same amount of power throughout the entire discharge cycle, whereas an SLA’s power delivery starts out strong, but dissipates. Charging SLA batteries is notoriously slow. In standby applications, an SLA battery must be kept on a float charge.

With lithium batteries, charging is four times faster than SLA. Even better, there is no need to keep lithium on a float charge for storage.

Lithium’s performance is far superior than SLA in high temperature applications. In fact, lithium at 55° C still has twice the cycle life as SLA does at room temperature. Conversely, a lithium battery has a higher discharge capacity at cold temperatures than SLA.

A lithium battery will not accept a charge at a low temperature (below 32° F). One thing to consider in cold temperature is the state of the lithium battery. If the battery has just finished discharging, the battery will have generated enough heat to accept a charge.

Additionally, lithium batteries, compared to SLA batteries, are lighter and don’t leak.

What if you had a system backup battery that could talk to you? Yes, we can remove leads to a backup battery and manually test them as usual with a load tester. However, as the younger crowd would say, “That is so yesterday.”

Now with smart batteries like the PSL-BT Lithium Bluetooth from PowerSonic, one can download a phone app to then receive the battery’s status via a wireless Bluetooth connection.

High Quality & Reliable Power

Now that the pandemic is over, the great rush to work at home has subsided, we are all faced with the ‘hybrid’ workplace. Many workers are now being encouraged to work some of the time at home and the other at work. To maintain reliable operations at both home and work one needs high quality and reliable power. Supplying this to your customers is a necessity.

“Even the most reliable and advanced security systems can be compromised or knocked offline by poor power quality, so it’s essential for integrators to understand which power management and monitoring tools will set their customers’ installations up for long-term success,” says Steve Trunkett, director of global sales at SurgeX, a power protection and management equipment manufacturer.

“Integrators should begin security projects by evaluating the client’s electrical environment and tailoring a product mix that safeguards against detected threats.” he says. “Based on their findings, integrators can implement battery backup to protect security systems in the event of outages, monitoring solutions to detect and resolve potential interruptions in real-time, surge elimination technologies to protect devices from surges, spikes, electrical noise, degradation over time, and more.”

One example is the popular SurgeX Squid. This product provides AC/DC power protection, boxed network control, and analytical software in one chassis. There is no need to install a product for AC, another for DC, and yet another to monitor and control the audio visual (AV) power environment.

The PoE Revolution

Now to answer the puzzle challenge presented in this article’s introduction: What does a Noble Prize winner, PoE and new opportunities for low-voltage technology integrators have in common?

In 2014 three scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of the blue LED. Inventing this device was a big deal as now an efficient white light source could be created from the blue LED.

Then came the application of PoE in 2003 with sending power over a single Ethernet pair. Both technologies progressed until today we have PoE capability that will allow power of up to 90 watts, and LED lighting equivalent in brightness to today’s filament bulbs.

The power and versatility of PoE today allow low-voltage contractors to provide powered smart devices for both residential and commercial use. In fact, we are starting to see entire smart buildings being illuminated by PoE systems.

Once upon a time electrical contractors looked down on low-voltage systems. Now they are taking notice of PoE applications such as low-voltage lighting, which is very versatile and cost effective. Recently electrical contractors and unions have made serious efforts at taking a second look at the licensing requirements of limited energy and low-voltage systems.

Unfortunately, they will not be the last as electrical contractors continue to feel the threat to their traditional scope of work models. Electrical organizations have commented, “Power over Ethernet is changing the way lighting, sound, communication, video, access control and a host of other powered products are used.

This is a serious threat wherever it emerges, and we stand ready to confront it.” The PoE LED lighting market is expected to reach 544.8 million units by 2026. This is a great opportunity for the low-voltage integrator.

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

About the Author


Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Commercial Integrator + Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add to your bottom line.

A FREE subscription to the top resource for security and integration industry will prove to be invaluable.

Subscribe Today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Our Newsletters