Protect your home against crime during load-shedding
South Africans must ensure they have adequate backup power to run their alarm systems, security lights, and cameras when load-shedding kicks in.
The Institute for Security Studies recently warned that robberies increased during the fresh bouts of load-shedding Eskom implemented during the early weeks of November.
The experience of at least two security companies who recently spoke to MyBroadband supports the institute’s analysis.
Fidelity Services Group CEO Wahl Bartmann said that criminals were taking advantage of load-shedding interruptions to break into homes and businesses across Gauteng.
“Criminals are opportunistic. They are always looking for an easy way in. Load-shedding is another opportunity for them to exploit,” Bartmann said.
“Within the Fidelity ADT footprint, we have seen an increase in armed house and business robberies during load-shedding.”
French Jooste, operations manager of the Pretoria-based Bull Security, noted a similar trend.
He said the biggest challenge for home security was during the early morning hours when street lights were not working.
“Criminals use this to their advantage, and unfortunately, many homeowners are not equipped with backup power solutions to keep their outside lights on,” Jooste stated.
Load-shedding creates another major problem for the private security industry — more frequent false alarms.
“With all the ongoing load-shedding, we receive high volumes of alarm signals, especially when the electricity goes off in one area and comes back on in the other area,” Jooste said.
“The control room is flooded with thousands of alarm signals, and each signal needs to be handled individually.”
“My control room will prioritise signals and attend to panic and phone-in clients,” Jooste added.
Bartmann encouraged those whose alarms were triggered by a power surge or load-shedding to contact their security company as soon as possible to cancel any false alarms.
“This helps us ensure that armed response officers are allocated to legitimate emergencies,” he said.
A proper backup power solution for the alarm system would, therefore, not only help to keep your home safe from criminals but also assist others who might be in a life-threatening situation.
Bartmann said a stable and correctly programmed security system, coupled with a battery in good condition, would continue to protect a home or office during any power outage.
He emphasised that regular testing of the alarm system was more important during periods of frequent load-shedding.
“The battery backup is a crucial element that needs to be tested to give you peace of mind that it will still offer monitoring and protection when the power goes out,” Bartmann said.
Other than expensive fully-fledged solar and battery backup systems, several other options can power your alarm and associated systems during load-shedding.
Bartmann and Jooste pointed out that the frequent occurrence of load-shedding could prevent certain backup batteries from charging up adequately between outages.
In this regard, Bartmann recommended that customers consider lithium-ion polymer batteries that last longer than historic alarm systems that use lead-acid batteries. The latter generally take longer to charge and deteriorate faster.
Naturally, the backup system must be large enough to last through an entire load-shedding cycle.
“Add a battery backup power supply (A PSU and an extra battery) on the existing hardwired peripherals to split the power on the alarm systems and by doing so increasing the backup time on the alarm panel and also on the detectors,” Bartmann advised.
Jooste advised another cost-effective option was a standard computer uninterrupted power supply (UPS) with a backup battery connected to the alarm and CCTV camera setup.
“Make sure that you buy a big enough UPS – 2,400VA minimum,” he said.
You could also consider a fast-charging 3.2-amp power pack with a battery.
“The average alarm system charges the backup battery at around 800 milli-amp per hour, where this unit will charge the battery at 3,200 milli-amps per hour,” Joost explained.
Furthermore, Jooste recommended installing sufficient outdoor lighting that can run on backup power.
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