Updating Legacy Power Systems

Why you need to deploy the newest solutions for greater reliability in security and access control specifications

It is exciting times for physical security today. Technology has advanced at breakneck speeds, quite significant for an industry that seemed to stand still for decades. Now, with networked and Internet Protocol (IP) products in video surveillance and access control, edge intelligence and connected data coming from a host of integrated devices and sensors, there’s a whole new proving ground emerging for power in these types of security solutions.

Consumers and end-users expect to connect to their systems at any time, from anywhere. End users need their solutions up and running 24/7, especially in critical infrastructure or government security applications. Everything is interconnected and talking to each other— and power is the heartbeat of the integrated solution.

Power systems have undergone a substantial transformation in performance and design, resulting in better efficiency, reliability and stability. Now, it too has joined the growing fray of networkconnected products—with new remote monitoring and management capabilities yielding a more robust power and security system specification.

History of Power

The basic design of power systems has changed dramatically during the last several decades. In the 70s, power systems used linear regulation, an older technology that was inherently inefficient. With linear systems, a large, step-down transformer was required and the regulator operates by “burning off” extra voltage as heat. Heat generation, an enemy of electronics which degrades performance over time, is much greater in linear power supplies. Efficiency levels for linear power supplies were typically in the 65 percent range and generally limited to a single, preconfigured output voltage dependent on the input transformer. Linear power supplies are generally being phased out, driven also by state and federal regulations, in favor of offline switching supplies (OLS).

OLS is a widely used technology capable of operating with a cleaner power output than linear. It offers less noise and ripple as opposed to linear, especially during high-power operation. An OLS power system operates on the same principles as a low-voltage switching mode power supply, but eliminates the need for a step-down transformer, improving efficiency while reducing weight and heat output. OLS is able to achieve nearly 90 percent efficiency and far lower operating temperatures than either linear or switching mode, with the result being greater long-term product reliability.

When power supplies began to move to OLS the higher efficiency presented a greater feature set and ultimately it began its transition from dumb hardware to an integral part of a network-connected system.

The efficiency, feature sets and available diagnostics of power solutions will only improve with the future generation of products. Devices will continue to integrate—with the ability of hardware and software to communicate more wholly through protocols such as Physical Logical Access Interoperability (PLAI) profile and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)—as well as foster easier use and user transparency.

The power supply is now a complete solution, offering single and dual voltage, power distribution, lock and output control, remote test capability, remote diagnostics and remote reporting capabilities.

Big Picture: Access Control, PoE and Wireless

Power also plays a significant role in many emerging trends in access control. There’s quite a large infrastructure of legacy access control solutions still operating in the industry today, but they are being migrated to integrated open solutions. In addition, the rise of wireless locking products, power over Ethernet connectivity and edge intelligence in access control is also dictating the need for more robust power solutions to keep systems up and running competently.

With an IP edge-based solution, each door operates independently of other openings in the system. Edge access control systems require networked power solutions that can provide predictive capabilities, remote monitoring and maintenance, so integrators and users can maintain them proactively.

Networked access control systems are an integral part of security at the protected premises. And wouldn’t it be great if an end-user knew, ahead of time, of impending lock failure or battery fatigue— offering the ability to replace components in a timely manner and maintain system uptime? That’s what’s possible today with proactive power system management from networked components. In addition, reliable and predictable power systems provide greater efficiencies and yield substantial cost savings for customers and integrators.

Modern power systems provide these capabilities:

  • The ability to access real-time data and detect historical trends, with 100 percent visibility into the system, globally or locally, or to each connected device.
  • The ability to identify and prevent potential power problems to critical security systems before they fail.
  • Powerful analytics that deliver information in a highly intuitive form that helps security integrators manage systems to a healthy, optimal performance.
  • An integrated solution that combines access control hardware with intelligent power networking capabilities in a single enclosure to reduce installation time and yield easy standardization across enterprise specifications and from installation to installation.
  • Proactive real-time reporting and the continual delivery of mission critical information on the overall system health and viability, leading to less downtime or failure.

Networked enterprise or multi-tenant sites can effectively use power solutions to pinpoint potential connectivity and device issues with proactive, intelligent analytics. At the ready for integrators and end users are many predictive tools to automatically manage power solutions and receive alerts in advance of issues so preventative actions and response can be administered through managed services. These managed services could include: remote battery management and testing; remote device monitoring and restart/power cycle functionality; proactive detection and assessment of problems; and system solution health and connectivity reports generated on demand or at any designed schedule or interval.

What once was considered a dumb device now has attained mission critical stature for integrated solutions at the protected premises. Power is knowledgeable, connected and intelligent, culling constant realtime information on the status and operational history of systems installations.

This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of Security Today.

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