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The Security System Power Supply is literately what powers your alarm.  Both wired and wireless systems depend on them though you’re less likely to need additional power for the latter since wireless manufacturers know the maximum power draw – and design for it. The supply on a wired security system however must not only provide sufficient power for the alarm panel itself but also any external powered devices such as motion sensors, keypads, smoke detectors, and/or glassbreak detectors.  If you load the supply too much the whole system will fail until the load is reduced or an additional power supply source is added.  Wireless devices on the other hand are individually powered by their own batteries and not dependent on the main system’s power supply.

Your security panel is classified as a “low voltage” system. These systems are not hard-wired to your house power (110VAC), but instead are powered from a wall outlet through a plug-in transformer. Obviously care must be taken so the transformer is not plugged into a switched outlet!

System back-up batteries are located in your alarm panel or wireless control/keypad. This battery keeps your system active whenever the utility power is interrupted.  Generally you want the battery to be able to keep the system powered for at least 12-24 hours during a power outage.  The actual time will depend on the total system load and size/capacity of the backup battery measured in Ah (Amp Hours).

Normally the system backup batteries need to be replaced every four-five years. Our recommendation is to only change the backup battery when the keypad/system alerts that the battery is low.  Most panels on the market automatically “test” the battery several times a day to ensure they are still functioning adequately.  If the test fails (meaning the measured voltage under load is below a set threshold) then an alert is signaled and its time to get a new back-up battery.  Wireless devices also need to have their batteries replaced but will alert you at least 30 days before they are too low to power the device.  The length of time between wireless device replacement varies by sensor use (front door transmitter or motion sensor) as well as device type.  Traditionally wireless transmitters required a battery change every 12 months but typically its 4-5 years now with design improvements.  Again, wait until the system alerts you its time for a battery change.

Troubleshooting a system power issue

  • Check your transformer to ensure that it is plugged in and warm to the touch.  Burning hot or ice cold is bad!
  • If the transformer is not warm, ensure that the outlet is operational.
  • If the outlet is powerless, check your breaker box for tripped breaker.  Sometimes, a breaker can get flipped or tripped causing loss of power to the transformer and forcing your battery to drain while you are not at home. You may not even be aware that the system is down until you pass by the keypad and realize that there are no lights on.
  • If the breaker isn’t tripped, the outlet works, the transformer is plugged in and you still have no power to the alarm, then your transformer adapter may have failed.  Electrical storms are notorious for ruining alarm transformers.  there is a non-replaceable fuse in the transformer that may have melted due to an electrical surge. We carry replacement transformers for most makes and model alarm systems.  The newer transformers have a re-settable breaker to minimize the need for replacement due to electrical surge.