NewsAugust 30, 2022

Battery Backup for Gate Operators is Crucial

Purchasing battery backup for an automatic gate operator might just be the best investment when it comes to perimeter security.

With climate change causing heat waves and droughts, and global conflicts causing oil supply shortages and price hikes, America could experience a huge energy shortage which could lead to more frequent power outages. Such an event leads to more frequent gate operator downtime, which makes any critical infrastructure vulnerable to criminal or terrorist attack.

“Having a reliable battery backup bridges the gap in energy supply during a power supply shortage, which ensures continuous gate operation and perimeter security,” explains John Allen, senior product manager at Nice | HySecurity. “Some may think that backup power is unneeded if there are manual options to open a gate in a power outage, and every gate is required to have such a manual operation. These people may not be considering the need for emergency access during these times. Emergency crews cannot use this mode and may end up damaging the gate or the gate operator getting through.”

According to Allen, battery backup solutions available in the market today involve the use of an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), which is equipped with a bank of rechargeable batteries that provides backup power to a device during a power outage.

Depending on the battery capacity and the number of batteries, Allen says a UPS can provide backup power for as short as a few hours to as long as 24 to 48 hours until AC power has been restored. Some UPS even provide surge protection and voltage regulation in places where power supply fluctuations are common.

“Gate operator accessories often can operate on 24V DC power too, such as wireless receivers for access control. These can be powered from the UPS keeping them up and running and maintaining access to the property,” he says.

For gate operators, there are two kinds of UPS systems: integrated and standalone. An integrated system is built into the gate operator as a standard feature of factory option. Integrated UPS systems have the advantage of a smaller footprint and lower cost, but they are limited in what they can do by the size restrictions. They typically house only two 50 A-h batteries, and generally are meant for small- to medium-sized gates.

A standalone UPS, on the other hand, is purchased as a separate piece of equipment. They are available with a much higher backup energy storage, up to four 100 A-h batteries, and can be used to power much larger gate operators. Standalone UPS systems are available with AC or DC power output depending on the needs of the gate operator.

Regardless of one’s choice of UPS, Allen says its highly important that UPS systems be selected with the use case in mind.

“How often do power outages occur?” says Allen. “An outage of a few hours is easy to overcome, but what if the power is out a day or many days? It’s important to consider the challenges we’re currently in and make decisions to avoid as many problems as possible. Installers should consider how long they need to keep a gate operational, and what the impact is when all reserves are depleted, then select a system that will handle the load. When sizing a UPS system be sure to include the power needs of dependent systems such as access control. If one of these systems fails, the backup power for the gate operator is not much use.”

Moreover, Allen says installers should also decide if they want the gate to fail safe, meaning that as battery reserves fail the gate opens and stays open, or if the gate should fail secure, meaning the gate will remain closed when the batteries fail, keeping the property secure.

“Invest in an intelligently monitored system that checks the battery charge along with the ambient temperature. Be sure standalone UPS systems include heating and cooling systems, which can help extend battery life and ensure an efficient gate operator performance. Taking care of your battery backup ensures that it will be there for you when you really need it,” he says.

This article was originally published in the August 2022 issue of FenceNews. You can read the original article here.

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