“An Ounce of Prevention Goes a Long Way” When Powering Your Cameras
As video surveillance systems continue to grow in size and functionality with new technologies driving even higher levels of performance, there’s still one basic premise that applies to each and every one of them: if the power goes down, your system is of little practical value. With that in mind, it’s important to note that conventional Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) provide a fundamental means of maintaining power for core system components such as recorders and switchers. And in high security venues, or those mandated to maintain continuous video surveillance like in the gaming industry, large back-up generators are installed to deliver the sufficient power capable of maintaining all system components. This includes the security cameras using centralized power supplies at the main distribution frame (MDF) or remote power supplies at the intermediate distribution frame (IDF) that may be scattered throughout expansive facilities and their surrounding properties.
But what about the countless small to mid-size facilities that want to maintain continuous video surveillance and can’t justify the expense and maintenance of back-up generators? Up until recently, they had limited options to protect against power outages and brownouts capable of interrupting their video security. All of that has changed in recent years with the availability of new power solutions specifically designed for professional video surveillance applications. These solutions provide a cost-efficient and extremely effective means of assuring the continuous operation of your video cameras.
These new UPS units are designed not only to keep devices running but have all the functionality of a multi-output centralized camera power supply. What differentiates them from a conventional UPS is the ability to deliver regulated 12VDC or true sine wave regulated 24VAC – or a combination of both – to the security cameras and/or their accessories under any power condition. These integrated units provide seamless power under normal conditions or when there’s an interruption of AC power to keep cameras continuously up and running.
Selecting the right power supply/UPS solution for your system takes a bit of calculation, but it’s time well spent. What needs to be determined first is whether or not all cameras must be backed-up, or just those cameras covering critical locations, such as areas where cash transactions take place, or valuable or controlled substances are located. Second, determine the total load of the cameras selected for back-up, and the most efficient means to deploy power supply/UPS units based on their power capacity and their physical location. This requires some additional math to calculate power requirements of each camera and the capacity of the power supply/UPS you need to specify. What’s important to consider during this process is that there may be instances where only a few cameras are connected to a single power supply/UPS unit. This will allow you to achieve maximum back-up time based on the UPS’s output capacity.
After you determine your requirements, and it’s time to make purchasing decisions, there are a few key features you may want to consider when shopping for a power supply/ UPS solution including:
- Units that deliver 12VDC, 24VAC or some combination of both to accommodate existing cameras and provide room for expansion
- The ability to deliver regulated power under all operating conditions
- Local or remote notification of UPS trouble conditions
- The availability of outdoor models for applications to handle exposure to the elements
- UL listed units
As simple a concept as it sounds, the need for consistent, reliable power for your cameras is essential for most surveillance systems. As reliable as conventional power supplies are, they can be rendered useless due to a variety of power interruptions. The old saying “an ounce of prevention goes a long way” surely applies when it comes to power supplies with integrated UPS capabilities. Give yourself added security and peace of mind knowing you have plenty of reserve power in place in the event you ever need it.