4 Major Technology Developments in Power Management

A low-voltage power supply is behind every video, access control, intrusion and fire system. Here are major tech developments in power management and their impact on systems integrators.

4 Major Technology Developments in Power Management

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There’s a lot that’s new with power, and the product category’s ongoing improvement offers updates that benefit both installer and end user. From managed power services to time and labor savings to the largest enclosures to date, integrators can now leverage these upgrades and others in their access control, fire, video surveillance, security and life-safety installations.  

So much of what we do every day at home and the office is dependent on reliable power and guaranteed uptime to connected systems. For systems integrators providing physical security and integrated solutions, the state of power is even more critical — safeguarding lives, people, property and the infrastructure. 

Not long ago, the engineered enclosure that houses power and access control components was simply a static piece of hardware, and often, three separate enclosures were required for system power, lock power and the access control modules. In the interests of simplifying installation processes, a recent trend has seen one enclosure handling it all. 

Such modular enclosures offer streamlined electrical and mechanical integration of power, locks and access panel hardware. These unified systems construct a high level of integration between a power system and an access control solution. Today’s power systems can not only integrate three enclosures into one, some are also available prewired and ready to install, with quick-connect terminal strips prewired directly to the latest access control hardware. 

Other changes to power technology include new intelligence, networking and historical data. Here’s a rundown on the four most significant changes in the category and their impact on systems integrators. 

Managed Power Arrives 

The ability to provide remote services and proactive monitoring has been a game-changing power advancement. In addition to the in-the-field pluses of managed power, it offers the ability to earn recurring monthly revenue (RMR) from proactive notifications, data and reporting — while the customer gets better uptime and can head off potential problems proactively. 

Modern power solutions now predict battery health, exact standby time remaining and also preempt possible downtime with constant analytics on device status.  

  • Managed power services can encompass a number of physical elements, including the main power supply, power system outputs, locks, access control modules and standby batteries.  
  • Managed monitoring covers event reports, AC loss notification, service due reminders, impending lock failure, low-battery warning, insufficient battery standby and more. During the pandemic, being able to remotely access, manage and control systems offered service continuity when buildings were closed or inaccessible. 
  • Remote servicing capabilities of power solutions offers output supervision, remote scheduled battery load testing, remote power cycling and system health logs/trouble alerts. 

Continuous power system monitoring also creates customized action alerts and reports for system maintenance and management. Alert formats include email, XML or Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). For example, a short circuit or integrated lock that is drawing more or less power than it should is an indication it is beginning to fail. In this condition, an email alert or SNMP trap (notification) can be automatically sent to the integrator or end user, alerting of a potential problem before it happens. 

Accessed through an intuitive web browser interface, the latest remote monitoring and control increases power system ROI, maximizes system uptime, and saves maintenance costs. For the end user, monitored power means the move to a more comprehensive, proactive network. It offers lower total cost of ownership, coupled with useful data that ultimately keeps systems solutions up and running smoothly. 

Today’s modular enclosures offer streamlined electrical and mechanical integration of power, locks and access panel hardware.

Access Control Integration 

Managed power can also be integrated directly with industry-leading access control management software, streamlining the administration and control of connected solutions. Direct, native integrations to access control and security management software platforms include Mercury, Genetec Security Center, OnGuard for Lenel S2 and C•CURE 9000 from Software House by Tyco. 

With an integrated system, power management is available natively and originates from the access control system’s interface. Users can easily add devices into the software platform so real-time alerts appear directly within the interface. Users gain detailed data on the health and viability of power, connected locks and other devices all in one place for simplified management and control.  

In addition, users can receive and centrally manage all alerts and notifications through the software, which relays real-time data and analytics on the health and viability of door controller power, lock power and battery condition.  

Installer Time Savings & Assistance 

Visual voltage indicators across all boards show the security technician the output voltage of the power supply boards and each distributed output. This breakthrough alleviates the need for systems installers or facility technicians to measure each individual output with a voltmeter to confirm its setting — a big time and labor savings across a multibuilding campus. 

Dual-colored green (12V) and blue (24V) LEDs provide instant visual verification of appropriate voltages, streamlining installations and avoiding damage to sensitive and costly access control components. Optional RS-485 capability allows the installation of larger managed power systems with fewer network drops for network managed power systems.

PoE Possibilities

Power over Ethernet (PoE) eliminates the need for high-voltage wiring and potentially an electrician. LifeSafety Power has responded to increased demand to enable remote power in a range of access control and other applications with its new BiTSTREAM line of power systems. BiTSTREAM PoE lets an installer power the access control system exclusively through PoE power, eliminating the need for field wiring and AC drops. A unique, UL Listed Fire over Ethernet (FoE) feature enables egress on fire alarms through a single centralized fire alarm connection.

Midspan injectors and switches provide power and data over a single ethernet cable to PoE-compliant devices, such as IP cameras, door locks, IR illuminators and other access control edge devices. Dedicated, centralized battery reduces backup demand for the rack and permits backup for the entire system from a single battery set.

PoE splitters convert PoE power to 12 and 24VDC for powering edge-intelligent devices such as access controllers, locks and readers. Fire alarm control can be local or centralized through FoE.

These devices comply with the IEEE 802.bt high-power PoE standard for up to 90 watts per port (500 watts total) of power distribution. Installers can use a single midspan injector to remotely power locks to control doors or other devices instead of cabling to each location. They may also be fully network managed, allowing monitoring of voltage, current and power per zone and other specifics.

Added data points such as AC input voltage and main output current on the power supply and output cycle counts yield a comprehensive view of overall system health. Refinements like built-in low battery disconnect and battery current sensor foster cleaner installations. 

Ground wires on the doors of enclosures are engineered with pluggable connections so there are no tools required to remove the door. These design changes may seem small, but savings add up when it comes to streamlined wiring, labor, maintenance and standardization across a massive facility or corporate setting. 

More Doors? No Problem 

Some of the industry’s largest enclosures are now available for expanding access control footprints and enterprise applications that consist of a substantial number of connected doors or other components. These spacious enclosures offer the advantages of unified power and accommodate more access control boards, power supplies and managed outputs in a single unit for hardware and deployment savings.  

The enclosures accommodate up to 750 watts of power to allow complete management of locking hardware, access control boards and auxiliary devices and are available in configurations to integrate authentic Mercury systems up to 24 doors or Software House controllers with as many as 32 doors. 

The need for power will only increase as systems become more interconnected and interdependent. Any downtime in a system could lead to irreversible loss of assets, business continuity, reputation and customers. The entire profile of power has changed — and systems integrators can take advantage of this evolution to provide greater system value and intelligent power networking. 


Matt Virga is Vice President of Sales for LifeSafety Power.

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