Across the security industry, power supplies are too often an afterthought and the first item in an access control system to be value-engineered. However, when the power supply fails on a high-end access control device, the system becomes a very expensive paperweight.

Fortunately, there are now power supply units available that can enhance system reliability by providing remote diagnostics and real-time reporting and analytics. There is also a mistaken perception that all power supplies are the same, says David Corbin, Director of ASSA ABLOY’S Power Management Strategic Business Unit.

Access control and security applications

Power supplies today are more important than ever for access control and security applications

The fact is, a properly designed unit for today’s market must have a wide input range, a myriad of features, interface to network, have adequate transient protection, good surge capability and a demonstrated quality level for mission critical reliability, he says. “Power supplies today are more important than ever for access control and security applications,” says Corbin.

From heavy snowstorms in the Midwest and East Coast to the two million Californians that experienced unprecedented power outages, extreme weather conditions have created chaos for millions over the past few months. These events have resulted in students being locked out of schools, hospitals darkening and electronic keypads or card readers shutting down. With events like these on the rise, and an increased reliance on the technology we use to get in and out of the spaces we occupy, power supplies are critical for keeping systems up and running and people safe and secure.”

ASSA ABLOY’s acquisition of LifeSafety Power in September expanded the company’s offering of smart integrated access control power solutions
ASSA ABLOY's LifeSafety Power’s FPO Intelligent Power Supplies and Helix Redundant Power Systems

Installing right power supplies

ASSA ABLOY has a range of products within the power supplies category, including LifeSafety Power’s FPO Intelligent Power Supplies and Helix Redundant Power Systems. ASSA ABLOY’s acquisition of LifeSafety Power in September expanded the company’s offering of smart integrated access control power solutions for OEMs, integrators and end-users. Other ASSA ABLOY power supply products include Securitron AQ Series Switching Power Supplies, and eco-friendly, linear, plug-in and solar power supplies, as well as Power over Ethernet (PoE).

Access control is crucial to security and life safety, says Corbin. And without power, any protective system is useless. When the right power supplies are installed correctly, the system will have built-in backup power that will be triggered during an outage. Dependable power supplies, with regularly replaced and appropriately sized backup batteries, are critical to keeping occupants safe in an emergency event.

Dependable power supplies, with regularly replaced and appropriately sized backup batteries
Other ASSA ABLOY power supply products include Securitron AQ Series Switching Power Supplies

Periodic testing of the battery

When it comes to extreme weather conditions, the result of a power outage can lead to hazardous situations for employees, patients, residents and students, he says. Buildings that require power to gain access can leave people stranded outside or locked inside. “When access controls are disabled, intruders can easily enter buildings without notice, affording the opportunity for interruptions to power distribution, water supplies and other necessary public utilities,” says Corbin.

Preparation for the next big power outage should include the sizing of power supplies to the system requirement with a reasonable safety factor for foreseeable system expansion and a battery set that is sized for operating the system for a period of time greater than the planned requirement, he says. Using a ‘smart’ power supply provides early warning of an impending failure; and consistent, periodic testing of the battery set keeps the system in peak operating condition.

Predictive maintenance of access control

Predictive analytics and data harvesting can help with predictive maintenance of access control

Redundancy ensures that power remains available in the event of a failure, regardless of whether it is a blackout situation or a failure of the power supply itself, says Corbin. “In critical power installations where redundancy is vital, the system must have a properly sized and maintained backup battery,” says Corbin.

Additionally, further redundancy can be achieved via products like our Helix systems that provide for seamless switching between two different power supplies in the event of an electrical failure of one of the power supplies.” Corbin also notes there is a growing want and need for more data and analytics in the access control field. End users increasingly expect access control systems to be able to integrate with building information systems.

Predictive analytics and data harvesting can help with predictive maintenance of access control and building systems. For example, intelligent power supplies can identify problems before they happen – such as performing periodic, automated battery tests and then notifying a central monitoring location and/or a facility manager of a battery that needs replacement. Lock operation can also be monitored on a real-time basis for failure or impending failure of a secured door opening, he says.

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Author profile

Larry Anderson Editor, SecurityInformed.com & SourceSecurity.com

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is SecurityInformed.com's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads SecurityInformed's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

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