Security System Upkeep

Security system upkeep is important to ensure the integrity of the system in the event of an actual breach or break in. It’s then that the significance of a reliable intrusion detection system comes to light.

One way to ensure the integrity of the system is to perform regular service and maintenance. While it’s true that many devices provide various levels of built-in supervision, it’s better to employ a professional for such work.

Properly installed and tested regularly, not much can go wrong with security systems. Surge suppression, proper grounding and lightning protection, using clean power and other elements are crucial. In addition, periodic inspections and maintenance are also best practices to adopt.

Battery-power prowess

Power is the most critical element in the operation of security and life safety systems. Batteries and battery backup are the heart of the system, and these components have come a long way.

Longer life is a chief advantage of new batteries on the market, making system upkeep easier. For example, one line of lithium/manganese dioxide battery packs for card-reader door locks lasts up to seven years. These battery packs provide more power than alkaline batteries and operate in temperatures from 40 below to 140 degrees, making them well-suited to a variety of installed environments.

According to VOXCOM, a Canadian Security Company based in Alberta, some systems use AA or 9V batteries, while newer products may use the longer-life lithium batteries. When a battery trouble signal is indicated at the keypad, the next step is to determine which device, such as a motion detector or door contact or the control panel battery, caused the signal.

Fire systems are a whole new ballgame when it comes to batteries and backup. According to the National Fire Protection Association, if the public utility electric system fails, batteries should be capable of maintaining the system in standby mode for 24 hours.

Check with the NFPA or your local authority having jurisdiction for further specifics. One way to aid compliance is to have your fire alarm system batteries tested on a regular basis.

Technological advancements

Technology is improving all the time when it comes to security system upkeep. Security sensors, such as passive infrared and dual technology detectors, have supervision in tow, with the ability to “poll” or ask the device if it is “OK” on a regular basis. Problems are generally reported to the keypad or central control command or PC software.

Part of the challenge of security-system upkeep is keeping abreast of new technologies and knowing when an upgrade is appropriate. Because security systems are directly related to computer technology, advancements come fast and furious.

Newer systems are state-of-the-art, and will not only bring the facility up to date to meet the challenges of modern security, but also provide a quick return on investment under a lower price tag, less maintenance and greater functionality.

Bottom line: expect to pay substantially less for a more powerful access control or camera system, for example, versus the price tag several years ago. And a newer system generally requires less attention when it comes to system upkeep.

Manufacturers have made upgrading and adding peripherals easier than ever with standardized communications protocols and other interfacing options that may be hardware- or software-based. Such add-ons permit a wide selection of systems to work in tandem. In access control, it’s possible to upgrade to newer protocols, such as proximity and biometrics, with the help of software and peripherals. Facial recognition is just a wrinkle away, so to speak.

Security technology continues to advance with software-based intuitive programming, miniaturized hardware, and fully integrated and managed systems, making upkeep a bit easier, but still, a task that should never be neglected. EC

O’MARA is the president of DLO Communications in Park Ridge, Ill., specializing in low-voltage. She can be reached at 847.384.1916 or


About the Author

Deborah L. O'Mara

Freelance Writer
Deborah L. O’Mara is a journalist with more than two decades experience writing about security, life safety and systems integration, and she is the managing director of DLO Communications in Chicago. She can be reached at

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