How Security Pros Can Utilize Power Protection as a New RMR Stream

Security contractors can jumpstart clients’ connected products as well as kickstart a new recurring revenue stream by providing power protection. Tap into the latest devices, sales strategies and managed services opportunities.

How Security Pros Can Utilize Power Protection as a New RMR Stream

Power products are not likely top of mind for customers when it comes to security systems. Naturally commercial and industrial market end users will be budgeting for traditional solutions such as access control, video surveillance, fire/life-safety, intrusion products and the like.

However, systems integrators can make a powerful pitch for the important behind-the-scenes power products fueling today’s comprehensive security solutions.

“Power protection should be an integral part of every installation — no matter what type of business or facility,” says Anne Gray, product marketing manager, Honeywell Home and Building Technologies. “Security systems are installed for protection, and not protecting them could take away from the overall benefits of the system.”

It’s not hyperbole to say that the impact of power supplies and protection could play a part in the potential dire consequences from compromised functionality of an installed integrated security system.

“When an emergency strikes, seconds count. An inadequate or improper power supply can trigger power losses that result in a breakdown of critical communications,” adds Gray. “Delays in providing fire first responder notification, missed-critical surveillance or a loss of access control can have devastating results.”

With that in mind, read on for more impactful insights on how power protection is sure to grab your customers’ attention and garner bottom-line benefits for your company.

In addition to Honeywell , SSI plugged into the knowledge base of several leading power providers including Altronix, DITEK, LifeSafety Power, Middle Atlantic Products, Minuteman, SnapAV WattBox, and SurgeX. Plus, learn how integrator Preferred Technologies caters to myriad municipal and education market clients, and how residential power customers are also being well covered.

Parsing Potential Power Issues

It’s important to identify various power issues that can affect security systems. As Bill Allen, marketing director, Minuteman, explains in brief, surges (an increase in voltage, similar to a tsunami) and spikes (a sudden large increase in voltage) can cause catastrophic damage to any type of electronic equipment.

Device power supplies and circuit board components can be rendered inoperable from either a surge or spike, he says. Brownouts are among the most common power disturbances, says Allen, and can cause sudden reboots and system resets due to the drop in voltage.

“At a minimum, anything that plugs into a wall receptacle should be protected with a surge suppressor. Surges and spikes don’t happen too often, but when they do, the damage can be catastrophic,” he says. “Better yet, an uninterruptible power supply [UPS] is the best type of protection.”

A common mistake, notes Lauren Simmen, marketing manager, SurgeX, is the mental image of a lightning strike as most customers’ knee-jerk thought of power problems that will affect their systems, but that’s really only a fraction of what to guard against.

“In reality, 80% of surge events occur within the building or installation. In a commercial environment, damaging power anomalies can be caused by elevator operation or the HVAC system kicking on. The same is true on the residential side whereby power anomalies generated by turning on an AC unit or dryer can slowly damage equipment you’ve installed on-site over time,” Simmen says.

Downtime from power disruption will adversely impact all manner of security devices, so it’s crucial for customers to think about power protection as a foundational system in their investment.

“A power surge can easily transfer from a single device to an entire system,” says Anthony Knighton, field sales engineer for DITEK. He outlines a few scenarios in which issues may affect certain connected technologies: When a video surveillance system goes down, the facility is vulnerable to liabilities; downtime on access control could allow free access to restricted areas or to the facility itself, requiring closures or costly physical security increases; should a fire alarm panel go down, the customer may need to institute a “fire watch” (stationing of additional personnel and equipment), incurring massive but avoidable costs.

Brian Holden, director, SnapAV WattBox power products, adds that because of the microprocessors used to deliver crucial functions across technologies like access control, fire/burg and surveillance, as the sophistication of the systems increases there’s a greater chance they will lock up or require a power cycle reboot.

“Consider the number of times a basic residential security panel needs to be power cycled — rarely, if ever — versus the issues generated from large access control systems or large building-wide fire protection system. The latter is much more critical and requires more service,” Holden says.

Products from companies such as (clockwise from left) Minuteman, Altronix and DITEK enable security systems integrators to respectively address end users’ UPS, PoE and surge protection needs.

Conveying Coverage Options to Customers

Power supplies are often overlooked by customers who are focused more on the key features and benefits of the complete security system they are purchasing, notes Honeywell’s Gray. “It’s kind of like light switches for a new home — you expect them to be there and work without paying extra for them,” she says. “Since life-safety and security products provide critical alerts and information it is vital that they have the power they need to function properly. Reminding customers of this fact will help pave the way for a discussion of power requirements, options and associated costs.”

During those discussions integrators may need to be prepared for customers who aren’t expecting to feel the financial strain, but the potential repercussions later on could prove far more costly than initial investment and ongoing expenditures for the insurance of proper power.

“It’s important to ask potential clients about the last power failure they experienced, and what some of their pain points are in maintaining reliable power,” says Middle Atlantic Products’ Scott Lowder, director of product management, power. “Using that feedback supports power assurance and helps integrators educate the client about value of a well-designed system. While a well-designed system may cost more initially, it lowers risk of damage to sensitive solutions and savings can be realized in lower overall maintenance over the life of the installation.”

Moreover, adds DITEK’s Knighton, “Integrators should discuss surge protection during the system design and proposal stage, and should always include a surge refusal form for the customer to sign should they wish to waive liability.”

Like the security solutions they are feeding, there isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all installation for power protection, notes Ronnie Pennington, national sales engineer, Altronix. Every installation is somewhat different, even when systems are blueprinted for commercial customers such as franchised locations found in retail and the fast-food industries, he says.

Plus different types of devices, whether networked or standalone, also have different requirements. Core power issues to address with customers to ensure proper installation, according to Pennington, include:

  • the type of infrastructure that will host the power solution; the number of devices to be powered at each location
  • the maximum power consumption (total amperage) for all of the devices connected at each location
  • the distance of the devices from the primary power source, whether it be PoE or a conventional power supply

“However, there are potential issues that require specific attention and may not be as apparent, such as voltage drop due to long distance cable runs, and the threat of external power surges which may require additional external surge protection,” Pennington cautions.

When it comes to UPS systems, there are various flavors to consider, according to Minuteman’s Allen. Three types of UPSs, he explains, are: a standby UPS (good), line-interactive UPS (better), and online UPS (best).

A standby UPS essentially switches to battery backup and would be recommended for small security systems or devices with low power draw, according to Allen.

A line-interactive UPS also provides full protection, but has a built-in voltage regulator to solve a drop in AC voltage or an overvoltage condition. Since brownouts and overvoltage conditions are a more common problem, a line-interactive UPS solves these without going to battery mode and preserves battery power.

These are good for protecting medium-sized, more critical systems, Allen says. An online UPS takes the incoming AC signal, converts it to DC, and then at the output the DC signal gets converted back to AC and sends the clean AC signal to the attached devices.

“Through this ‘double-conversion’ process, the AC signal is totally cleaned up and regenerated, thus providing the best protection through an impenetrable ‘electrical firewall.’ An on-line UPS is typically used in higher-end, mission-critical applications,” Allen says.

Read on to learn how power products can offer RMR opportunities…

About the Author

Contact:

Arlen Schweiger is managing editor of CE Pro, Commercial Integrator and Security Sales & Integration magazines.

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