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    Great article!
Joe Pfefer
    Det Robinson wants to know why are alarm companies and alarm techs installing non-supervised power supplies on security systems?
    The answer to Det. Robinson's question is, because they're idiots.  Sometimes I get the feeling there are more flakes in our industry than any other industry including home builders.  I suspect it might be they buy cheap panels that do not have enough aux. power, thus they have to compensate on the cheap.
    Thank you for your newsletter.  It keeps me aware of industry problems.
Best Regards,
Barney O’Donnell
HSI Security Systems, Inc.
    Great newsletter today… the Phoenix inspector sums up what’s been happening in our industry for years and years.
    Thanks for publishing his comments.
Matt Buehrer
Buehrer Alarm Systems Consulting, LLC.
Burlington, VT
    Detective Robinson raises a good point.
    Alarm panels supervise their AUX output terminals sending a report on LOSS OF AC POWER and another when standby battery power is below the power requirements of ancillary devices.  The use of AUXILAIARY POWER SUPPLIES to compensate for LONG WIRE RUNS, UNDERSIZED WIRE or excessive numbers of devices demanding operating power.
    In this case the AC INPUT to the auxiliary power supply must also be supervised to notify of the loss of commercial power thereby operating those devices on battery only.  In those applications the use of a supervised power supply appears to be mandated by Phoenix ordinance. This is a case of the regulator requiring what the installer should regard as common sense.
    Unfortunately the sales people that worry about the bottom line look at the extra dollars as "unnecessary expense". I am sure Jeffery Zwirn will echo, no REVERBERATE the above....
    From out in the rain......
Joel Kent
     I take exception to many of the assertions of "Det. Robinson."  Much of what he had to say sounded very much like he was painting the whole alarm industry as a bunch of slackers, and he used a very broad brush.  Without reducing this to a personal attack, I would like to reply.  First and foremost,  "monsoon" like rainstorms are never considered as a part of the "normal environment" of a city.  Any alarm ordinances that I have ever read, have exceptions for inclement weather.  Alarm panels are only designed to give you so much in the way of auxiliary power.  So if you have three or four security consoles, a bunch of motion detectors and any other devices that use power, it is very easy to exceed the limitations of the control panel.  If you look at the installation instructions of any alarm panel, they are explicit when they say to test the unit weekly.  Those tests are supposed to be performed by the end user, not the security company.  If you noticed, I did not mention any smoke detectors in the use of aux. power.  NFPA regulations require any aux. power devices to be supervised.  But Det. Robinson lives in his little bubble, he doesn't know what stuff costs, nor does he care.  Price out the difference in cost between a "dumb" power supply and one that is supervised.  I will give him that when an alarm company does an inspection and changes the standby batteries, ALL of the batteries should be changed.  Whether it be poor instructions on the part of the initial installer or the inspector just not paying close attention, all batteries should be changed every three years.
     I don't cut corners, nor does my company do shoddy work.  But I'll tell you this:  If I quote a job using a supervised aux. power supply, the difference in the price will be enough for me to lose the bid to a company that didn't.  As for just using a larger battery for standby power, Robinson is talking out his backside.  If a control panel is marked with "available aux. power 700mA or even 1Amp, that is the most you should be drawing from the panel.  Putting a larger battery on the unit will give you more standby time, and that is all.  Putting a larger load on a control than it was designed for can be dangerous.  It will heat up it's components and doom it to a likely early failure.  Do alarm installers do dumb things sometimes?  I would say YES, but not all the time and not even on a regular basis. 
     As for Zwirn, he too should stick to what he knows, and that is fire alarms.  Zwirn teaches these NICET prep courses at a fairly high price, and then if there is a catastrophic fire, he goes in as the "fire expert" and for many thousands of dollars more than any company makes on the installation, he will tell them that if the installer had placed the detector a few feet over to the side, it may have saved many thousands of dollars in damage.  He plays right into the deep pockets theory, and they look to subrogate.  I've never heard of an alarm system causing a fire, but going on Robinson's idea of using a bigger battery, that might be a first where a panel gets just that hot.  Every fire is different, and as much as fire science has come a long way there are always variables.  It just irks me that a guy would make good money from the fire alarm industry and then turn around and testify against them in court.  I went to one of Zwirns courses some years ago, and it will be the last.  And maybe "Detective" Robinson should stick with detecting crimes, not trying to evaluate alarm installations that he has no expertise in.  I can't take away from Zwirn that he is indeed a fire expert.  But being a cop in no way makes Robinson an alarm expert.  I have always been pro law enforcement, but maybe we should get new bumper stickers  "Alarm Installers Lives Matter."  Going back to the OJ case referring to Det. Robinson,  "If the larger battery don't fit, you must aux. it."  Sorry for jumping back and forth between the two, but both of these guys irk me.
    As always,
John from NJ
    I’d like to comment on today’s article and letter from Detective Robinson:
    Det. Robinson is 100% correct, even more so than he may realize. Connecting a 12VDC output directly to standby batteries not only defeats the battery self test, it also bypasses the internal battery charging circuit, putting the entire available output amperage into the standby battery. This can cook away the electrolyte and will absolutely destroy the battery. There are reasons that battery charge circuits have limited available current and monitor the battery voltage as well. Putting an aux 12 volt power supply on top of battery terminals is foolish and counterproductive.  Yet, I’ve seen it done by supposedly knowledgeable techs and alarm firm owners all the time.
    Yes, monitored power supplies are more expensive than a simple board. Many have AC power monitoring but only the better ones also contain a low battery output. A relay can be added to the supply input to monitor the AC coming in, but you can’t add a relay to the battery circuit to get a true battery test. At best you will only get charge current, unless you know how to build a true load test timer, which few in this business know how to build. It’s better and cheaper in the long run to get the right power supply than building your own or jury rigging the aux supply.
    Some may find it interesting that there are card access control panels on the market that don’t have low battery testing built in. I add these to our systems, but again it’s a lot more than a voltage check. It requires a timer, comparator, dummy load and a simple logic circuit. It may not require an engineering degree to build, but it’s a lot more complex than a relay.
Mitch Cohen
    I would love to live in Detective Robinson's world, but this is just not possible.
    If everyone followed the Rules, Laws, Codes and practice the highest levels of ethics, we would not need police offices. Now this is not to say what the Detective is says is wrong, on the contrary, all of his observations are correct and he will become a bigger threat to our industry than Jeff Zwirn when he retires and becomes an expert witnesses for hire.
    Stop signs, traffic control signals, one way signs or speed limit signage don't have the ability to apprehend or stop an act of any individual who violates these laws with complete disregard to the Vehicle and Traffic Laws of his community. Traffic signs are in affect nothing more than suggestions unless there happens to be an Officer there at the right moment that you don't respect those "suggestions" you may be subject to fine, loss of privileges or incarceration. 
    The City of Phoenix and its populous is very lucky to have such an informed and knowledge person on the Police force, however he is the exception and not nearly the rule. The vast majority of the nations police departments will never have the resources to perform the service that is described in Detective Robinson's email.
    As a central station owner, I would grasp any realistic opportunity for the industry to adopt his view and improve the industry image, as well as the value of burglar alarm systems in America. To my own gain, I would be able to cut my monitoring staffing in half if we could only have alarm companies who operate to this level as described by Detective Robinson.
    However, this is not reality. To many police departments have gotten the false alarm problem down to levels they can accept and manage with help from the industry and SIAC, or they just don't have the extra resources to duplicate Detective Robinson. Detective Robinson is a valuable asset to his department and community, but until there is a Detective Robinson in the vast majority of communities or at least the top 50 cities, his view for the future reality of the alarm industry will unfortunately continue to be just a mirage. 
Bart Didden, President
USA Central Station Alarm Corp
with central station offices in NY, CT & MN

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