Exclusive: Powering access control with Altronix

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Ronnie Pennington, Director of Sales for the Americas at Altronix details a new approach to PoE power supply for access control.

By eliminating high-voltage installation cost, integrators can better meet the needs of their clients.

Today, ethernet is used virtually everywhere and not just for IT applications. Ethernet infrastructure is the preferred backbone for IP surveillance and access control applications. And regardless of what type of IP-enabled product that is being deployed, there is one common denominator – they all need power. PoE solutions provide power to myriad edge security devices and must ensure operations even when power goes down. Today’s more advanced PoE solutions make designing and powering an access control system a simple plug-and-play experience.

IT-centric physical security systems

The migration to more IT-centric physical security and access control applications is requiring many administrators to ensure these systems work off the facility’s existing IP infrastructure rather than using a separate RS-485 (serial) network that can be difficult to manage and even worse to service when they crash. As access control systems continue to migrate to IP-network environments, it makes sense to have them running on a platform that IT understands and can easily manage.

With Power over Ethernet (PoE) powering most network appliances, many single-door access control panels now have the option to be PoE powered as well. They are using either a midspan PoE power injector or a PoE switch to provide reliable power. The infrastructure’s uninterruptable power supply (UPS) is supplying backup power to the controllers.

Power to ancillary devices such as card readers, fail-secure electric strikes, electrified leversets and motion request to exit (REX) devices can also be supplied by access control panels via PoE. Since these controllers are being powered by PoE, the amount of amperage is limited. Average PoE controllers provide two voltage limits for lock output power and the total power output. But in many instances, the total power output for all ancillary components, including the lock power, is approximately 600 mA. In that case, all components connected along the network’s PoE controller must be prescreened to determine the amperage draw so the total amperage for all components is less that the total output limits of the controller.

The high cost of installation

High-voltage installs can be costly and cumbersome for systems integrators. High-voltage wiring must be separate from low voltage inside an enclosure, which takes up space. The install can be further complicated because high-voltage wiring cannot be in the same pathways/wire runs with low-voltage wiring. Most jurisdictions require a certified electrician since electrified locks are usually powered by hardwired, high-voltage ports that take an 115VAC/220VAC power input that reduces the output to a 12VDC or 24VDC.

That single output is then connected to a distribution board where the electrified locks are connected. Most jurisdictions require that this power input be hardwired with a dedicated circuit. Because of high voltage, the installation now requires dedicated conduit runs for the electrical as well as expensive large gauge copper and dedicated circuit breakers. After initial installation, regulatory compliance may be required to service the system.

Finding a way to provide a PoE solution that eliminates the need for high-voltage 115 or 220VAC-volt AC inside the cabinet that power your locks, panels and readers has been a goal for systems designers and integrators. Having the ability to use a power solution that takes 90 watts 802.3bt, the new standard that was ratified in September 2018, monitors input power, includes a battery for fail or normal conditions and allows for stackable sub-assemblies would be a real game changer.

New approach to PoE power supply

Such a revolutionary PoE-driven power supply has finally been developed, providing integrators with the ability to deploy access control systems utilising low-voltage installation methods and techniques, which saves money for integrators doing the install and their end user customers. The Altronix Tango Series PoE-driven power supplies allow 12VDC and 24VDC devices to be powered simultaneously via 802.3bt PoE input. IEEE 802.3bt, also known as 4PPoE or 4-Pair PoE, uses all four pairs of wire in a structured cable to evenly distribute power. This new standard allows manufacturers of powered devices to design new products with power hungry features such as PTZ cameras w/ IR illuminators and heaters and blowers for harsh environments and other power-hungry security applications. Security technicians can also wire up the power input. Power (PoE) is run over Cat6 cabling and shares the same pathways as other low voltage wiring.

Tango Series products also save valuable enclosure space by using an eight-pin connection allowing installers to stack the access control power controllers and power distribution boards directly on top of a Tango product. This leaves more space in enclosures for additional equipment or accommodates the use of a smaller enclosure where wall space is often limited. Another advanced feature employed in Tango Series products that installers have applauded is a Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery charging circuit. This new-era battery solution is providing integrators with a multitude of benefits when compared to the sealed lead-acid batteries by giving 5,000 duty-cycles as well as a ten year shelf life. Tango is an UL294 Listed industry game-changing power solution.

Using low-voltage installation methods to power an access control system will eliminate the need for an electrician and associated costs such as permits, electrical cabling and dedicated conduit. The low-voltage cable used for power can run in the same cable trays and paths as other network cabling along with access control cable. For service and maintenance, the lack of high voltage inside the enclosure eliminates the need for regulatory safety precautions.

access control
Ronnie Pennington


This article was originally published in the March 2021 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital copy here

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