Yes, home security systems work when the power goes out. However, this is only true if the system is connected with a backup battery. Once the power goes out and the plug-in transformer no longer supplies power, the system will switch to the backup battery to receive power.
An alarm system depends on receiving power to provide active monitoring services. If the system is not receiving power, it will shut off. And if the system is off, it will not detect when a sensor has been activated. It will also not send outbound communication signals to a central monitoring station or an end-user. In other words, an alarm system without power is utterly useless.
Having the electricity go out is a significant inconvenience. But when an alarm system is not powered on adequately, it can represent a massive security and safety risk. An unpowered system will not detect or report any break-in that occurs. And if a life-safety sensor, such as a smoke detector or a carbon monoxide detector, activates, then nobody may be informed about the potential emergency.
For those reasons, nearly every alarm system will have some rechargeable backup battery. Usually, the system will be receiving electrical power from the transformer that is plugged into the wall outlet. The transformer will also supply some power to the backup battery to give it some reserve power. So most of the time, the backup battery will be sitting there in reserve.
But when the power does go out, the backup battery will be ready. The system will switch over to this reserve power supply and continue to run as if nothing happened. However, it is essential to remember that a backup battery will not run indefinitely. Most backup batteries can keep a system running for up to a day, but it varies between different batteries and systems. Additionally, a backup battery will need to be replaced every few years. The system will let the user know when the backup battery is low.
In addition to a backup battery, another necessary add-on for a system is a cellular communicator. Cellular communication is the only reliable way to keep an alarm system monitored when the electricity goes out. Another benefit of cellular monitoring is that it is exceptionally reliable, and it is rarely down or unavailable. Plus, cellular LTE speeds are nearly as fast as WIFI, making a cellular communication path excellent for alarm systems.
Security Camera Solutions That Work When Power Is Out
Use Battery Powered Cameras
The battery backup CCTV cameras work without electricity. Powered by batteries, they can work independently when the power is out. Whether there is a power cut or network problem, they will detect and record motion events, save the footage of burglars just as usual.
DIY Solar-Powered Security Cameras
If you are not ready to get a battery backup or solar-powered security camera, you may also DIY a solar-powered security camera yourself to get protected when power is out. However, be prepared for the learning curve and some hard work ahead.
Use UPS Battery Backup During Power Failure
UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) is a surge protector that provides emergency power to your security system when management is out using the pre-stored inside battery backup.
All you need to do is connect the devices to the UPS. For a typical security system set, the necessary counterparts include IP cameras, the security camera recorder (DVR or NVR), a router, and a monitor.
Using a standalone security camera, the UPS battery backup may be a practical way to deal with power outages without being too tough on your pocket (around $30).
However, when it comes to security systems, a decent multiple channel UPS will cost you over $100, which could be fair enough for a quality battery backup camera. The camera solution also saves your money and time in running long cables to connect the devices, as mentioned above.
Use Backup Generator When Power Is Out
For long-term power outages, you will need a standby generator that will automatically generate electric power when the power is out using gasoline.
Do note that the backup generator for the security camera system will need time to start up (usually seconds or minutes). Thus you may still require backup battery power to ensure an uninterrupted power supply.
So getting a UPS and backup generator together is technically ideal for keeping your security system working even if there are several days of a power outage. But, still, you need to make a tradeoff between the cost and its return.
The backup generator is ordinarily expensive, and they are primarily used in a business that shall stand a considerable loss due to power outages, like the supermarket. And some apartments share a backup generator among the neighbourhoods.
Security cameras do need backup power and Wi-Fi to work—the big exception to all.
The big exception to all of this is the cameras, including the Indoor Camera, the Premium Indoor Camera, the Outdoor Camera, and the Doorbell Camera. Because they have a big job to do, cameras use a comparatively large amount of power and need high-bandwidth internet communication.
All of Frontpoint’s cameras have to be plugged into power individually and connected to Wi-Fi to function. Thus, to keep the camera feed running, you need backup power supplies for each camera and the Wi-Fi router and modem. Various battery packs that serve as an intermediary between a device’s plug and an electrical outlet are available for purchase, and some routers have internal backup batteries.
These devices will potentially keep cameras up and running for a few hours, depending on the cameras’ usage during that time and the backup battery’s capacity—which can keep surveillance going during most short power outages. For long-term power, you’ll need a generator (or numerous/large storms).
Cellular systems also keep working when the power is out.
Security systems that use a cellular signal for outbound communication require a small power supply to send alerts. Thus, a security system control panel with a battery backup will stay functional in power outages as long as a cellular signal is available. This capability, along with the inability for these systems to be defeated with a set of wire cutters, makes cellular security very reliable.
In rolling blackouts or planned outages like those happening in California, a cellular signal will be available; telecommunication companies take care not to lose power in such events. It’s important to note that in extreme weather events, however, there are no guarantees that the cell towers will not be damaged. Simultaneous loss of power and cell service won’t be the norm, but understand that it is possible.
The most advanced security systems mitigate this issue by transmitting at a much lower frequency than what’s required for voice conversations over cell phones—helping the system’s cellular connection remain strong even if overall coverage in an area is weak.
How Does My Security System Still Work In A Power Outage?
A security system can offer valuable peace of mind for homeowners. When you know your home and the security system protects your family, you can rest easy at night and feel secure when you are away. However, what happens when the electricity goes out? Will the home security devices be able to provide the protection you need?
These are reasonable questions. You see that the system needs electricity to operate, so it is only natural to wonder about what would happen in the event of an electricity outage. In this post, we will cover some of the issues concerning the operation of a home alarm system that is experiencing a power outage.
Back-Up Power Supplies
A power outage seems like it would be the ideal time for burglars to target houses that have a safety system. In the past, this may have been true; with the power out, your plan wouldn’t protect the home. However, most modern safety rules come with battery backups that can keep them running for several hours, if not for a day or more.
If you have an intelligent wireless alarms system, the first thing you should do is check to see if there is a backup battery in the panel. Next, you want to think about how long that battery can energy the system if the electricity goes out.
When it comes to determining how long you have on a battery backup, there are several factors you have to consider. The size of the battery is one obvious factor, but you also need to consider its age and how active the system is. If your battery is old or you repeatedly trip points like motion sensors and door contacts, the battery will not last as long.
If you are concerned about electric outages, it could be a good idea to check the age of the backup battery in your alarm system. Replacement batteries are affordable, and it could be the difference between having protection during a power outage and the system going down. You could also consider buying additional batteries that could be used in the event of an extended power outage.
Communication Issues and Power Outages
Most security systems are not simply in-house. They need to communicate with a monitoring station to provide the fundamental level of protection. For most homes, this should not be a problem. Most systems connect to a landline with power even when the electricity goes out at home. As long as you have a backup power supply, the system will remain functional, and it will continue to communicate with the monitoring station.
But what happens if the phone lines go down? For some systems, this might mean that it will lose its connection to the monitoring station. However, there is also the option to connect a cellular communication system to maintain the relationship if the phone lines go down. As long as the system has power, the cellular network communication system will continue to transmit data.
Some protection methods may communicate over the internet instead of using a traditional landline. These systems would be more vulnerable to an electric outage. With no power to the router, there is no way for the system to communicate with the monitoring station. If your security system operates over the internet, you may want to consider obtaining a backup power supply for your home internet connection.
Wireless Security Systems
Advances in smart wireless technology have led to the increased popularity of wireless security systems. The benefits are many, but will this type of system continue to protect the home in the event of a power outage?
The first thing to note is that not all wireless alarm systems are the same. Some might have motion detectors that connect wirelessly to a receiver/base that then connects over the internet to communicate with the monitoring service.
In other cases, you might have wireless home cameras that relate to a DVR/receiver that may or may not connect to the internet.
For the most part, most wireless systems should continue to provide some level of protection even when the power is out. The devices on the system run on batteries so that they won’t be affected by losing control of the home. When it comes to the base or receiver, it depends on the unit and whether there is a backup power supply.
With many wireless systems, the base unit plugs into an outlet to get power, but it might have an internal battery backup. If the system does not have an internal blockage, it might be a good idea to connect the base/receiver to an uninterruptible power supply.
This is a power supply that comes with backup batteries, and you could use it to power the safety system base and your router in the event of a power outage.
What About Smart Home Features?
Many modern protection methods now connect to the internet to leverage innovative technology for a more comprehensive form of protection. This could include smart locks, lights, a smart thermostat, a home depot, CCTV, etc. These devices need electricity, so they may worry that they will not work when the power goes out.
The designers of these devices have already thought of the possibility of a power failure. Most smart home devices come with internal battery backups that can keep them running for at least a day. However, it would be best if you still considered that they could not connect to your home Wi-Fi network.
Without Wi-Fi, the devices will operate in a limited state. They will be able to perform all of the primary, necessary functions, but they won’t communicate with the internet. That means you would be able to open a door with a smart lock, but you won’t be able to control it from your phone. In the case of cameras, they should keep recording as long as there is a backup power supply, but you won’t access the remote monitoring.
If you do have a smart home alarm system, it is a good idea to learn about what happens when the power goes out. Learn about the features that will still work when the force goes out. It would be best if you also learned about the steps to take when the backup batteries die. This would only happen in the event of an extended power interruption, but it is better to be familiar with these procedures before an emergency occurs.
Wireless battery-powered security systems keep you protected if the power goes out. Whether they are planned by the utility company, or severe weather hits, power outages make life difficult.
But a home security system will work in a blackout if it is designed correctly—and the core components of Frontpoint’s smart home security system will function for up to 24 hours without power. To maintain camera access during an average power outage, you can invest in individual battery backups for both the cameras and your Wi-Fi router and modem, whereas longer-term outages will require a generator.
The type of home security system you have installed determines what happens when there is a power outage in your home.
Traditional Phone Lines
If your alarm system operates over traditional phone lines, it will continue to communicate with the monitoring center in the event of a power outage. The phone lines remain operational, and the main security control panel in your home will likely continue to operate on backup power for a specified amount of time.
This type of wireless home security system works during power outages, drawing their power from battery backup for several hours. Like a cellular phone, communication is unaffected by localized power outages.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
These wireless home security systems are vulnerable to power outages, as they draw their power from home phone lines. While they do include battery backup, should a power outage also result in an Internet outage, these systems can stop communicating with monitoring centers. Some home security companies have solutions for VoIP systems to maintain connectivity with their monitoring center in the event of a power/Internet outage.
These types of home security alarm systems are the most vulnerable in power outages as a loss of power usually results in an Internet outage. Without an Internet connection to a monitoring center, these systems stop communication until power is restored and the Internet is up and running.
There are many security systems out there, so if you often fall victim to power outages, you’ll want to make sure you get one that will keep you protected during those times.