Security Systems

Security System Backup Batteries: How They Work, How Long They Last & Which Systems Support Them

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APC UPS 1000VA UPS Battery Backup and Surge Protector sitting on desk next to computer and coffee mug
It’s important not to leave yourself in a vulnerable situation when you need power most.

Home security systems help keep our families safe and feeling secure. But what happens when you lose power? Does your system keep working? You may need a battery backup to ensure your security system stays active when your family needs it most. Do you know if your security system has a battery backup? Don’t worry, our experts are here to help you figure out if you do, and if you don’t, steps you can take.

How Do Home Security Battery Backups Work?

Battery backups provide a power source when alternating current (AC) power is lost. AC power is the standard form of electricity that comes from an outlet. These backups are usually made up of rechargeable batteries and slowly store energy while the system has power. When your home loses power, the battery backup will automatically activate and power the system for as long as possible.

3 Reasons For Power Loss To A Home Security System

There are three main reasons for power loss:

  1. Electrical outages: These outages occur when power coming in gets disrupted. Common causes are powerlines going down or transformers blowing. Weather events like a winter storm, high winds, hurricanes, and tornados can cause you to lose power too.
  2. Disconnecting the system’s plug: You may accidentally unplug the security system from the outlet.
  3. Connection wires getting cut: If someone is trying to get into your home, they may cut the wires to your system to deactivate it.

How Long Can A Security System Battery Backup Work?

Battery backups are a temporary solution during a power outage. They keep a system running until you can restore AC power. The range for these types of batteries is relatively broad. They can last anywhere from 4 to 24 hours. It all depends on the batteries, the system, and how much additional equipment you connect to the system.

Battery Backups For Wireless vs Hardwired Security Systems

You may have a different battery backup based on whether your security system has a wireless or hardwired control panel. A wireless system typically has an internal battery pack that plugs into the system board, and you can store it in the control panel.

A hardwired system has a larger battery that you’ll need to connect to the panel with positive and negative leads, much like a car battery. Hardwired control panels usually have a metal enclosure that’s large enough to hold the backup battery.

Cellular vs Broadband vs Battery Backup

It’s easy to get confused about the need for a battery backup when your security system has cellular or broadband backup. However, these types of backups are very different things. Battery backup deals with maintaining the power source for your system, while cellular backup supports data transmission, and broadband backup uses your internet connection to connect to the monitoring station. Our experts illustrate the difference between the three in our article explaining central monitoring stations.

It’s important to note that if you only have a broadband backup, your system won’t transmit data if the power goes out. Only cellular backup will do that. Though, you can add a battery backup to your security system and your broadband modem or router. The best-case scenario is to have it set up so your system can communicate and stay active in any situation.

Create Your Own Battery Backup

APC UPS 1000VA UPS Battery Backup and Surge Protector

If you have concerns that the security system you’re using doesn’t have a backup battery or the one it has won’t last as long as you’d like, you can create your own. You can purchase an Unlimited Power Supply (UPS) battery backup and surge protector to fill your need for long-lasting power. These UPS devices come with a variety of voltage options and several outlets. Plugging your system in through the device may be all you need to have more peace of mind.

Will Battery Backup Work With My Cameras?

When it comes to security cameras, there are different options for battery backup.

Wired Cameras: If you have wired cameras or your cameras are part of wireless cameras, and they run on batteries already, a loss of power doesn’t affect them. Some outdoor wireless cameras are solar-powered, and rechargeable batteries act as backup batteries in cloudy or dark conditions.

How Do I Replace My Backup Battery?

From Zion Security Alarms, this two-minute video is an example of how to change the battery backup in a wireless system.

The next one-minute video, from My Alarm Center, is an example of changing the battery in a hardwired system.

Every security system is unique, so make sure to check with the manufacturer of your system to ensure you’re changing the backup battery properly and using the correct battery to match your system’s power requirements.

Know Your Home Security System

Most home security systems are set up for battery backup. But not all are. Curious if your system supports battery backup? In our home security systems reviews our experts have done the research to give you the battery backup capabilities of each provider.

Julie Fritz

Julie has been writing professionally since 2012. She is an active volunteer for a local arm of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country. Everytown does comprehensive research on gun violence and makes recommendations on how we can all make our communities safer. Her involvement with this organization has given her invaluable information about how to keep our kids safe. She enjoys writing not only about gun safety, but from family-related content to informative articles about technology, events and healthcare. In her free time, you might find her hiking, trail running, biking or swimming. You might also find her in the kitchen where she loves to cook and bake.

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