More Power to the Integrator

Find out how smarter power supplies are exceeding traditional devices as connected components that provide system diagnostics and alerts.

Whether working with access control, video surveillance, intrusion or fire detection, or automation systems, a security contractor always needs a trusted and reliable power supply system. Systems must be carefully planned and installed for reliable operations of ingress/egress, smoke and fire detection, false alarm-free intrusion detection, and video surveillance. Performance demands and expectations are high from the customer and community. Emergency power must also be quickly and reliably available when primary power sources fail or misbehave. All of these power requirements can be a daunting task for professional systems integrators.

Once all of the preliminary demands of system installation are accomplished, the additional requirements of system supervision and service take place. How is the system’s power performing? Has the quality of provided power changed due to extraneous conditions? Extreme power conditions such as voltage brownouts and sagging can pose a serious threat to overall system performance. Is the backup battery performing properly? Will a service call be needed? These are questions that need to be addressed in a timely manner.

Customers may faithfully promise that they will diligently check equipment power supplies and uninterruptable power supply (UPS) status indicators on a regular basis. This promise often falls short. As a backup, system power equipment may have an audible alert when something is wrong. But sadly this equipment is typically located in a remote, seldom-visited room where an audible warning goes unnoticed. Many times the first indication of a power supply malfunction is when an emergency occurs, and by that time it may be too late.

With those traditional shortcomings of power supplies and UPSs in mind, let’s move forward to look at some of the best power supply and accessory products available today and how new technology can make our lives easier and happier. Plus, a sidebar examines circuit protection measures being deployed in today’s power source devices.

Versatile, Feature-Rich Supplies

Video systems are the hottest security install today, but video cameras have shown they do not take kindly to weak power. Additionally, with more coverage demand more cameras are being installed. With the rise in cameras being monitored, the demand has also increased for 24/7 power, along with reliable backup power. In an effort to keep up with this industry-wide demand, Honeywell Power has released its HP1205/10 UL power supplies. A particularly nice aspect of these devices for installers and technicians is how they have been designed with speedier and easier installation and servicing in mind.

With the addition of more cameras to power circuits, an old technical reality has raised its ugly head – voltage drops. With longer power cable runs, small gauge wire and more electrical load, the wire itself can drop so much circuit voltage that there is not enough left for the cameras. What to do? Typically, the answer would be to run more cable or invest in another remote power supply. Honeywell, in its infinite wisdom, has provided a convenient voltage adjustment that can take your source voltage to 14VDC if needed. That’s very nice indeed for when your customer asks you to add those extra cameras.

Another convenient method to distribute system power these days is Power over Ethernet (PoE). Altronix, one of the more versatile and comprehensive power supply manufacturers, is offering its eBridge adapter/media converters along with PoE midspan or endspan products, such as their NetWay. These allow security contractors to provide PoE to network or coaxial cable for distances of thousands of feet.

Another popular power supply/charger option is the eFlow line, which can deliver 12VDC at up to 10 amps. These units include features like fire disconnect, overvoltage protection and power disconnect, which prevents deep discharge of standby batteries. All told, Altronix has 11 brand groups designed for seamless integration with network-based IP and analog video surveillance, security, access control, and fire alarm/life-safety systems.

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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.

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