Battery for Alarm System
Today’s alarm systems depend on batteries more than ever. The home alarm system has always had a back battery for the control panel. These batteries would furnish power in case your home experienced a power loss. In this event the alarm system would still function for a time and continue to provide protection for your home.
With today’s wireless alarm systems the battery is even more critical than ever before. Every wireless device is powered by a battery. If your wireless device has a battery that is weak the system will generate a trouble that will alert you of the problem and where the problem exists. This is another reason to have an accurate zone list for your alarm system. The last thing you want is to be chasing a low battery signal and not be able to replace the correct battery.
What Happens when Power is Lost?
Your home security system is normally operating on house current or AC. The backup battery is checked by the control panel for the proper operating voltage. If the voltage goes below a base level then the control panel will generate a system battery trouble. If the AC to your control panel is lost then a different trouble will be generated that will indicate AC loss.
How Long Does My System Backup Battery Last?
There is no exact estimation of how long your system battery will last. It depends on the A/H Amp Hour rating of your battery and the total current draw of your alarm panel. This is typically based on the number of devices connected to your system. Typically without an alarm condition your alarm system will easily operate for a 24 hour period. If your alarm system is triggered while using your battery backup the backup period will be much less. If your system remains in battery backup mode for an extended period of time and your battery goes dead it is best to replace the system battery. When you have a new alarm system battery the warranty is typically for one year.
How long do Wireless Batteries Last?
There is a wide variety of batteries utilized in wireless alarm systems. They range from your standard double batteries to 9 volt. The newer wireless devices use a much smaller battery such as a lithium 3v battery. These batteries allow for a much thinner device which blends in well with your home. The length of time that your devices will last depends on how often the device is used. Your wireless devices are in stand by a lot of the time to conserve the batteries but they are always ready to perform when they are called upon to do so. A good estimate of time would be approximately 1 year. A good rule of thumb is to replace your batteries once per year. This can be expensive depending on the size of your system. You can wait until the devices report a low battery condition. If you start to see a number of devices that are reporting low battery it is best to simply replace all of the device batteries or at a minimum make sure to purchase all of the batteries that you would need. By purchasing a larger amount you can save money and you know that you will eventually need them.
Testing Your Alarm System Battery Backup
Every alarm system that is installed has a statement in your owner manual that says that you should test your alarm system monthly. It is your responsibility to ensure that your system is functioning properly. You must inspect what you expect. In years of servicing alarm system I have never found anyone that tests their alarm system as frequently as they should. Once per month may be a bit of overkill but never should not be an option. If you are replacing your battery because of a low battery condition then the trouble should go away on its own. Some systems will take a few hours for this to happen because the control panel does not test for battery voltage continuously. If you want the trouble to clear right away you will need to unplug the battery and remove the power from the panel. Always plug the battery in first and then restore system power. The trouble should be clear as the system powers back up.
You should test your system on battery at least some of the time. In order to test your system with the battery backup you will need to disconnect system power. Then arm your system and set it into alarm. Allow the system to ring the alarm siren until it cuts off automatically. Then you can disarm your system. Make sure that you notify your alarm monitoring company before you test your system. If the control panel does perform adequately during testing then you may need to replace your alarm battery.
How Do I Replace My Batteries?
Whenever you do any work on your alarm panel make sure that you contact your monitoring company and put the system in test. They will ask you how much time you will need. Make sure you overestimate the time because you should call in when you are finished and remove the system from test.
Here are the steps to replace your battery:
1. Call to have the system placed on test
2. Remove the leads from the battery
3. Remove system power
a. You can do this by removing the system transformer from house power or
b. You can remove one power lead from the control panel. Make sure that you do not short the lead out on any other terminals or touch the cabinet. You can put a wire nut on the loose lead or put a piece of electrical tape on the bare wire.
4. Remove the old battery
5. Install the new battery and plug the leads back in. Make sure that you observe the proper polarity when replacing the leads.
6. Always plug the battery in first!
7. Then plug the transformer back in or replace the removed power wire.
The alarm system will power back up and everything should be normal. Make sure to call the monitoring company when everything is complete and remove the system from test mode.
What does the A/H rating mean?
All security systems are 12 volts unless your alarm system is very, very old. Fire alarm systems are 24 volts. Batteries are rated for the amount of voltage they supply and they have an amp hour rating that will tell you how long a battery will operate for based on the current draw.
A battery with a capacity of 1 amp-hour should be able to continuously supply a current of 1 amp to a load for exactly 1 hour, or 2 amps for 1/2 hour, or 1/3 amp for 3 hours, etc., before becoming completely discharged. You should replace an existing battery with the same amp hour rating but you can go higher and lower in a/h rating and your system will still work. Keep in mind that the higher amp hour rating batteries are physically larger and may not fit in the space available in your control panel. A higher amp hour rating will allow your system to have a longer back up period. The newer all in one alarm panels will require the exact replacement batteries.