Over recent years, the rise of ever more sophisticated, technologically advanced security systems has given many Australians improved peace of mind. It is a slow-motion revolution that has changed the focus from physical barriers like heavier doors and locks to digital, electronic ones like motion-detecting lights, CCTV cameras, and whole security systems that can be operated remotely with a handheld device. This trend towards the digital has improved safety and security in previously unforeseen ways and is welcomed by industry experts and consumers alike. But what happens when the source of all that electronic equipment disappears and the power goes out? This article will examine scenarios where the power becomes unavailable and how it affects your security system. We will also offer some tips and tricks from our experienced Casa Security gurus on how best to protect yourself.
When the lights go out
Even in sophisticated, modern societies with solid infrastructure like Australia, power outages are an occasional but unavoidable feature of life. From periods of planned maintenance to extreme weather conditions and blown fuses, it is not an everyday occurrence for the power to go out, but it is bound to happen to us all sooner or later. Even the most robust infrastructure succumbs to the power of nature in the form of floods, lightning strikes, severe storms, and wildfires. The experts act fast to get things up and running again as quickly as possible, but some homes and businesses may be left without power for days or even weeks.
What happens to electronic security systems when the power goes out?
The bottom line here is that it depends totally on the type of security system. Some will continue to operate, perhaps with reduced features, and others will cease to function altogether. If your home has a system that relies solely on electricity from the grid, it will not be operational without power.
Suppose you are connected to a remote location where a company monitors your security status at all times, and they lose power. In that case, they should have backup contingencies to remain active, whether through emergency generators or batteries. When considering engaging in their services, you might raise this issue with any potential security company.
Loss of function
There are three main reasons why your security system might stop working in the event of a power outage, namely:
- The absence of battery backup.
- You have an internet, Wi-Fi, or VoIP (traditional landline)-based system that loses connection.
- The system is damaged or compromised as a result of blunt trauma to physical components.
When considering which security system is perfect for your circumstances, focus on ones installed with, or at least compatible with, battery backup systems (external or integral).
- Tip – Have a regular maintenance and inspection schedule on your security system. This will guarantee that all parts are in good working order and that any software updates and issues can be addressed.
Choosing the right security equipment beforehand should mean continuous protection when external power sources are unavailable. A battery backup will keep your operation panel lit and your alarms ready to sound when required. This type of backup even counteracts acts of sabotage by potential intruders, as cutting the external power will not circumvent the protection of the security system.
Of course, even the most modern, high-quality batteries cannot last forever, and the system will eventually be without power if depleted. Commercial and industrial spaces will often have a generator to provide electricity if the battery backup is depleted, and this could be considered in residential locations, provided there is enough space and ventilation for a small generator unit.
Powered security systems and alarms will operate normally and sound if any intrusion is attempted, and this remains an excellent deterrent. Older alarm systems were not connected to any broader monitoring system and relied on drawing attention to nefarious activity and driving the perpetrator away. Such was the prevalence of alarms sounding accidentally that this effect was lessened over time, and connection to a monitoring system was introduced. But those old methods still have value and should help deter criminals who set them off and do not wish to be spotted.
Assuming the system has power, whether through battery backup or generator, two types of systems can remain connected to the outside world and your chosen security monitoring company, namely:
- Traditional landline systems
Landline security systems keep surveillance systems, alarms, and control panels working, most commonly in remote areas where internet access and cellular signals are inadequate. As much as Australia has been catapulted into the forefront of modern technology, it remains a vast, featureless landscape in places, and these signals cannot always be relied upon. Fixed landlines are exceptionally reliable and guarantee connection, remaining unaffected by any power loss. The physical lines may be susceptible to intentional tampering or storm damage but can be protected in several ways to reduce the risk.
- Tip – Although the connection between your system and any external monitoring station will be unaffected by power loss, you will still require battery backup to keep your control panel and electronic surveillance devices running.
- Cellular systems
Cellular security systems use wireless telephone networks to operate similarly to a mobile phone. During power outages, signals from your system to the external monitoring station are uninterrupted, provided your local systems have battery backup and remain operational. This type of system has seen the most significant rise in popularity due to its compatibility with other cellular devices like smartphones and tablets. It also has the added advantage of being impervious to localised tampering or sabotage, as there are no lines to be cut or damaged by extreme weather.
- Tip – Choose a company that operates using the strongest signal in your area, as broken signals and slow speeds might result in delayed response times from your security company.
If you would like to discuss any of the topics raised in this article or learn more about Casa Security and our fantastic products and services, please get in touch with us at your earliest convenience. Our friendly team of experts are standing by to answer any questions and give their advice and tips on the best way to proceed with your bespoke security strategy.