Green Policies Put the Spotlight on Power Supplies

The intensifying discourse surrounding energy costs and the environment has caught the attention of many politicians who now advocate “going green.” This would include legislating rules and standards that administrate the energy consumption of a great many appliances.

In California, such a future has already arrived. Dealers and systems integrators now must design and provide security solutions that comply with recently enacted rules mandating the use of energy efficient single voltage external power supplies.

Security professionals elsewhere can better prepare to do business in a similarly regulated marketplace by familiarizing themselves with what has transpired in California. By educating themselves, dealers/integrators can strengthen their businesses for the likelihood of widespread adoption of energy efficiency improvements in buildings, appliances and other electrical equipment used in residential and commercial markets.

Golden State Is First Out of Gate

California is the first state to bring transformers back into the design spotlight for all new systems. In September, lawmakers approved the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) “2007 Appliance Efficiency Regulations.” (The document can be viewed at

A special section of the regulations (U-1, U-2) is dedicated to new energy standards for power supplies. This is particularly noteworthy to our industry because transformers are required in most security system applications to convert a 120VAC input to a lowvoltage AC or DC output.

CEC’s efficiency regulations define a single-voltage external AC to DC or AC to AC power supply as a device that:

• Is sold with or intended to be used with a separate end-use product that constitutes the primary load

• Is contained within a separate physical enclosure from the endues product

• Is connected to the end-use product via a removable or hard-wired male/female electrical connection, cable, cord or other wiring

• Does not have batteries or battery packs that physically attach directly (including those that are removable) to the power supply unit

• Does not have a battery chemistry or type selector switch and an indicator light; or, does not have a battery chemistry or type selector switch and a state of charge meter

• Has a nameplate output power less than or equal to 250W

California’s new efficiency requirements mandate any Level III power supply manufactured on or after July 1, 2007, must comply with the criteria in Table 1. 









The  operational expectations for Level IV power supplies in California increase on July 1, 2008. (See Table 2.) [IMAGE]11727[/IMAGE]

Call for Change Is in the Numbers

CEC estimates the average household in the state has approximately 10 to 20 external power supplies that waste as much as $75 in electricity each year.

Further supporting the potential for significant nationwide cost savings, in 2005 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released “Summary of Rationale for Version 1.0 ENERGY STAR External Power Supply Specification,” which projects a potential U.S. energy bill savings of $636 million by 2015.

According to the EPA, implementing specifications outlined in the summary could potentially decrease carbon dioxide emissions from power generation by 5.1 million metric tons, based on a 50-percent adoption rate by 2015.

Based on these statist
ics, it is believed several other states will be compelled to consider increased efficiency rules. According to Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project in Boston, the following states have already adopted efficiency regulations with standards for single-voltage external power supplies: Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. The implementation date for each of these states is targeted for 2008.

With the rising global interest in energy conservation, it won’t be long before our industry will be required to provide an energy-efficient transformer with every security system.

Although the California regulations highlight power supplies for ubiquitous consumer products such as laptops, MP3 players, cell phones and the like, the impact is far reaching in our industry. Manufacturers of transformers, such as Amseco, are beginning to design new models that meet the Level III standard and/or more importantly the Level IV standard.

Manufacturers of security systems that require the use of a transformer must be able to provide energy efficient solutions to their distributor and dealer base. This could result in necessitating new UL listings on some systems.

Ultimately, a dealer installing a security system in California is now responsible to ensure the system’s transformer is compliant with the new standards. It’s worth noting again: For those who are not doing business in California, it is no less important to understand the new regulations since many additional states are primed to adopt similar regulations in the near future.

Expect Enforcement … to a Degree

As outlined in its efficiency regulations, the CEC intends to monitor the market to enforce that products are held in compliance. The agency will supervise the market by assigning its own staff, along with outsourcing inspectors and relying on the industry to report installations that fail to comply. If a company believes a competitor is not complying with the regulations, it can make a claim to the state. The state can then choose to investigate the use of the alleged noncompliant product.

The company accused of using a noncompliant product must submit appropriate testing documentation to prove it is in compliance or risk having the CEC undertake further proceedings.

Whether California or any other state adopting energy efficiency regulations has the capability to police the new rules remains to be seen. It may be tempting for some firms to ignore the regulations, but there are two reasons why security professionals should comply in full. The security industry has the reputation of being an honorable profession, and that honor must be maintained by the way we follow the federal and state laws.

Secondly, James Cramer, chairman of Greenway Group Inc. in Atlanta, a consulting firm specializing in construction design, lists “Green and Sustainable Design” as one of his 10 Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) Drivers of Change. If “green” is not embraced, security companies risk being left behind in the world of new construction.

One final point, if the statistics provided by the EPA are accurate, the installation of energy-efficient transformers in California, or any other part of the country, has the potential to save consumers a lot of money and ultimately help preserve the environment. So, whether or not security professionals like the idea of more regulations, their businesses can only become stronger by preparing for the day they will be expected to provide improved energy-efficient systems.


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