Power saving opportunities for installers

Shaun Cutler, Raytec

In a world where energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important new opportunities are opening up for security system installers, explains Shaun Cutler of Raytec.

How much power does a security system use to operate and maintain? Could you re-design it to be more efficient? Could you deliver huge running cost savings to the end user and increase site security? In a world where energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important these are questions worth asking. As the cost of energy increases, new opportunities are opening up for those who design and install security systems.

More and more end users are looking to operate in a socially responsible way, to reduce their energy bills and to meet CO2 reduction targets. This provides good opportunities for security installers not only to make a positive contribution, but to show a lead. Lighting has always been the one area of a CCTV system which requires a lot of power. Consider an old CCTV system using 10 x 500W halogen illuminators. That is 5,000W in total. New advances in LED technology dramatically lowers running and maintenance costs, increasing on-site security and giving installers very easy wins when it comes to making and proving significant savings. They can now deliver tangible cost savings to their organisations by overseeing an estate-wide review of lamps and illuminators in use.

LED illuminators can drastically reduce the electricity costs due to their low energy consumption. Factor in maintenance visits for bulb-replacement, and the figure rises further. So organisations have a lot to gain by switching away from indiscriminate, continuous light-spill towards using targeted, carefully directed light only when it is actually needed.

The great advantage of LED illuminators is that they convert electricity into light very efficiently (low energy), and with the correct optical design can produce very defined beam patterns reducing light wastage and increasing efficiency. Additionally they start up more quickly (no warm up), and last significantly longer than traditional light sources. Being solid-state they are also more resistant to movement and shock, and their life-expectancy is not reduced by switching on and off. This advantage of LED illuminators is perfect for critical installations that demand 100 per cent performance, or where failure is either unacceptable or where the cost to replace a bulb becomes woefully high.

In the field of CCTV lighting it is now widely recognised that you need dedicated illumination to achieve consistent, high quality image capture 24/7 - CCTV quality at night is hugely dependent on whether the scene is properly lit. Further, LED-based illuminators offer considerable advantages over traditional, halogen-style lamps which were expensive to run and dent the budget every time they needed replacing. CCTV planners are now also thinking more strategically about what they want from lighting. For example, do they want covert Infra-Red lighting to improve the performance of their CCTV systems whilst keeping the scene dark, or do they want visible White-Light for optimum quality colour images? Both White-Light and Infra-Red could have good deterrent value if used well, the former reducing cover for intruders and the later capable of sending a more subtle but still clear signal that good quality CCTV is in operation.
In either case LED-based illuminators are an attractive proposition.

Some customers - security managers - are also asking for our LED white lights to be adapted for non-security applications. As an example of this new thinking in action, one energy company recently began using Raytec combined IR & White-Light illuminators strategically around the perimeter of a protected site. The covert IR allows the CCTV system to view the scene and watch potential intruders approach even before they are aware that they are being monitored. Once they reach a pre-determined range the white light LED's snap on, delivering a very effective warning. Should the intruders not be deterred the same White-Lights will help the security patrols who are sent out to attend. This same customer is now going further, and actively looking for other areas where LEDs can replace older style lighting.

We are in no doubt that this trend will catch on, and we are determined to help installers encourage this broader thinking. The first and most obvious applications are failure-critical lighting, where it is either very expensive, difficult or operationally undesirable for lamps to fail. Long-life lighting products are perfect for these situations. Next, consider areas where carefully targeted light is needed - architectural or heritage lighting for example. LED-illuminators are perfect for this job, and the cost of running them continuously is a fraction of the cost of running traditional floodlights. Moving forward, there are similar gains to be made in almost every area of site lighting.

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