Protection from power disruptions

July 2017 Security Services & Risk Management

Security installations are prone to power problems. These can occur daily and are not only the result of power failures. All electronic security equipment connected to normal mains electricity is vulnerable to power surges, dips, spikes and blackouts.

According to Shane Griggs of PSS Distributors, it is therefore imperative that uninterruptible power supplies and/or surge protection are connected in line with security equipment. Uninterruptible power supplies protect against power surges, dips, spikes and blackouts, while surge protection protects against power surges only, and is a necessity on outside cameras.

Naturally, this comes at a cost, and for a security installation Griggs recommends budgeting between 10% and 20% of the cost of the security equipment for protection equipment. Once the budget is set aside, informed choices can then be made by looking at the solutions available.

“The easiest way to determine your requirements is to add all the equipment’s wattages, get the total maximum wattage draw from the equipment you want to protect with the UPS, and divide this by the output power factor of the UPS (usually found on the brochure of the UPS). Add 30% to this amount to size the UPS.”

If a generator is chosen as a solution, there are some simple rules of thumb that can be applied to choosing the right one, but in some cases, specialist knowledge can prove invaluable. “For the generator, you can use the UPS size multiplied by 1.2, this will give you the generator size. Anything additional you would like to add to the generator must be added. Use the wattage and divide it by 0.8 to accommodate sea level losses – this is a good guideline to size the generator.”

Equipment with start-up currents, such as motors, laser equipment and fluorescent lighting, needs to be worked out slightly differently and it is suggested you speak to a specialist in the field.

It’s one thing to buy equipment, but it’s essential to keep it maintained to get the best working life out of it. Griggs recommends that backup solutions be serviced every six months, or every three months is areas where there are a lot of power failures or dust.

Ultimately, there’s no getting away from the fact that having an independent supply of power is costly. “No matter which decision you opt for, it is very expensive,” says Griggs. “We normally recommend UPSs for up to four hours. Should you require more runtime then we recommend either a generator or solar solution.”

For more information contact Shane Griggs, PSS Distributors, +27 (0)11 608 4259,,


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