The Added Security of Surge Protection

Every professional grade security device requires power and some form of connectivity and/or communication – either wireless or wired. Similarly, ‘wireless’ networking is not nearly as wireless as people believe – the network access points always have both power and wired network connections – so wireless networking also depends on wired connectivity to function. Because of their wired connectivity, each system is vulnerable to the damaging effects of power surges and spikes from AC power sources, the grid, and electrical disturbances transmitted via communications and signaling cables. Systems with products mounted outdoors like cameras, access devices, intrusion sensors and emergency notification stations, are particularly vulnerable because they are exposed to the elements and can suffer water leaks, wind damage and lightning strikes, amongst other hazards.

Surge Protection Solutions for Security Applications

Surge Protection Solutions

There’s a high probability that the majority of unprotected electronic security system devices will incur some damage during their lifetime from power surges and spikes. Not every system will fail due to surge events, but every unprotected system has an increased chance of failure or some form of malfunction versus fully protected systems. For every essential physical security and life safety system, the small additional costs for proper surge protection is really a no-brainer. In fact, the cost of providing surge protection is typically less than the sales tax on the system.

According to best practices, every physical security and life safety system device should have surge protection at its supplied power connection, in addition to the surge protection that is installed at the facility power entry point. Power surges can be defined as follows:

A power surge is when the electrical voltage and/or current rises for a short period of time, often less than a thousandth of a second. Power surges can contain very high voltages and the costliest result of these small surges is the wear and tear on electronics and gradual degradation and eventual failures over time, affecting productivity and racking up expensive repair bills.

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Best practices for protecting sensitive electronic systems include installing surge protection at both ends of all connected network equipment, as the network cabling provides a conductive path for electrical power surges. This is vital for cabling paths that run to exterior areas including outdoor facilities for surveillance cameras, access control readers, gate control panels, electronic locks, or any other networked electronics or sensors.

Simplifying Surge Protection for Fire Alarm Systems

Even in areas with little or no lightning activity, exterior electronic equipment is vulnerable to the effects of static electricity. Any device that is powered has the potential to create an electrical fault or short circuit that can transmit damaging power surges through the network cabling to reach other sensitive networked equipment.

Learn More: Access Denied! Preventing Access Control System Failures

Simply having a surge protector doesn’t guarantee that your equipment is safe. The surge protector needs to deliver the right level of electrical absorption to handle regular spikes and surges. Commercial use surge protectors specify how much energy the surge protector can absorb and a higher number indicates greater protection. A listed maximum surge current rating will also confirm that the device is a surge protector and not simply a power strip.

How the Fire Alarm Industry Benefits from Surge Protection with Audible Notification

Adding Surge Protection

Surge protection can be easily and cost-effectively added to almost any security and life safety system to help prevent power surges from causing damage to critical security and operational systems.

At the lowest price points, surge protection devices absorb the excess energy on the line to save the protected systems. Higher quality devices can absorb multiple hits and remain operational. Some surge protection devices have the capability to alert operations staff that they have performed their function and may need to be checked or replaced to maintain protection. This is the best approach, because staff may not be aware of recent power surges and that the surge protection devices may have been compromised.

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Justifying the Need for Surge Protection

In video surveillance applications, surge protection is vital because video images are an invaluable tool for documenting events. However, power outages, surges and voltage transients on network data lines can leave video surveillance systems inoperable when they are needed most. It is recommended that surge protection be installed at every external camera and security device since a surge can travel through the cabling from remote devices, damage or destroy a network switch, and possibly cause further issues with other networked devices and servers.

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Security devices and cabling are not the only costs from power surge incidents. From a business perspective, the potential loss of data and downtime could be far costlier than the cost of the damaged equipment. Facilities must be evacuated when the fire alarm systems stop functioning. When security systems are out of service, parking lots, doors, and secure areas need to be covered by temporary guards at an additional cost. There is also a loss of productivity if staff are delayed by congestion and manual processes at entrances, or if their work equipment and/or work data is damaged or lost. Downtime can also cause a potential loss of customer confidence or business. If a customer uses social media to complain about a website being down for a few hours, the resulting negative impact can be detrimental to a business for an extended time.

Speak to one of our surge protection experts to define and discuss the best surge protection plan to protect your critical security and life safety systems.

Contact a DITEK surge protection Expert!