Security In A Power Outage- Are You Be Prepared?

Table of Contents

In 2019, where you can ask a robot for the weather, news, and the best way to get to work, it’s surprising that power outages are still a problem. However, anyone who’s not living under a rock knows that even with so much amazing technology around, a lack of electricity can make everything null and void. While that may be fine for something like a light bulb, you want your security system to stay on all the time, even during a blackout.

Fortunately for you, there are a bunch of ways to keep your security system up and running, even when your entire neighborhood isn’t. The article will discuss alternate power sources and the systems that support them, plus some power outage tips to round it out. We have a ton to go over, so let’s get started!

Power Sources

ihome-isp6x-smart-plug-review
Power Sources

Your security system shouldn’t just be powered by your home’s electricity. There are a bunch of other backup power sources that I recommend you have in case of an emergency. Let’s start with the most common, cellular backup.

Cellular

Cellular Backup
Cellular Backup

Cellular backup is a wireless connection distributed through either through land areas with transceivers or base transceiver stations, cells or cell sites. You can use a cellular connection to transmit everything from your voice speaking through two-way audio or data, like that your entry alarm went off at 2:00 AM. It’s the most common backup for home security, with support from companies like:

  • abode
  • ADT Samsung SmartThings Starter Kit
  • ADT/ Protection 1 
  • Alarm Grid
  • Brinks
  • Cove 
  • Fortress
  • Frontpoint
  • iSmartSafe
  • Lifeshield
  • Link Interactive
  • Nest Secure
  • Protect America
  • Ring Alarm
  • Scout
  • SimpliSafe
  • Vivint 

Some of these companies include cellular backup with 24/7 professional monitoring, while others offer it as a separate cost. However, all of these companies have cellular backup as an option, which is the most important thing.

Landline

what-happens-to-security-system-during-power-outage
Landline Phone

Remember land lines? They were like cell phones that you couldn’t walk around with without tying up the whole house in one long cord, and all they could do is make calls. Now, landlines aren’t completely dead yet, but they’ve definitely decreased in popularity since the rise of mobile devices. In fact, by the second half of 2018, 57.1% of all households in the United States didn’t have landlines but rather a wireless cell phone, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Despite this decline in usage, landline backup is a great way to keep your security system up and running regardless of any power outage.

What is landline backup exactly? Well, according to the Central Intelligence Agency (otherwise known as the CIA), it’s a communication wire or cable that’s installed either underground or on poles. Compared to cell phones, landlines are useful because they tell emergency services your location information. While cell phones have GPS, it can be a little fuzzy at times, particularly if you’re in an urban area with tall buildings.

Although there exists a requirement from the Federal Communications Commission that all cell phones have location information for emergency calls, in practice, this hasn’t always been the case. More than half of wireless 911 calls in California didn’t have any location information, the California Chapter of the National Emergency Number Association discovered. So while legally, your cell phone should be able to give 911 your location information, this fails more often than not. With a landline, however, the location is always clear, mainly because it’s staying in one place! Obviously, you want the authorities to know your location as quickly as possible, so even a few seconds can make a huge difference.

Some companies that offer landline backup include:

  • Lifeshield
  • Protect America
  • ADT

As you can see, this number dips way below cellular backup, as landlines have gone out of fashion.

Voice Over Internet Protocol

what-happens-security-system-power-outage
Voice Over Internet Protocol

Voice Over Internet Protocol allows you to make phone calls using a broadband Internet connection rather than a phone line. Your voice will be carried digitally the exact same a web page would. However, this method may not work in a power outage, which could prevent you from contacting 911 or other emergency services, according to the Federal Communications Commission. While Voice Over Internet Protocol can be a good backup, you should really check that out with the company you’re buying the system from. Security Baron hasn’t reviewed any security systems with Voice Over Internet Protocol, so unfortunately we can’t give any examples.

Backup Battery

security-system-power-outage
Batteries

Definitely the most straightforward option, physical batteries give your system something to depend on if the power goes out. It’s just like any battery-powered toy that can continue working even in the event of a power outage. Some security systems with backup batteries include:

  • Lifeshield
  • Minut
  • Fortress: Strobe Siren
  • Scout: Hub
  • Frontpoint: Keypad
  • Ring Alarm: Range Extender

Of course, not every component of all of these companies include battery backup, except Lifeshield and Minut, so it’s important to figure out your requirements before swiping that credit card.

Solar Power

will-my-security-system-shut-off-during-power-outage
Solar Power

In what is no doubt the most environmentally-friendly option, solar power is a clean and renewable energy source that uses the sun. Despite it being so good to the climate, solar power makes up less than 0ne-tenth of the global demand as of 2011, according to the National Geographic.

Unfortunately, not many security systems on the market today use solar power at the moment, but there are a few examples:

  • Protect America: Solar Yard Light
  • Fortress: Outdoor Siren
  • Ring Alarm: Spotlight Cam Solar

And yes, these devices will keep working even if the sun isn’t out by using solar storage, according to an article from Energy Sage. And thank god for that!

Security Systems Without Additional Backup

swann-security-system-review
Swann Camera and Hard Drive

Unfortunately, there are a few security systems on the market that completely depend on your home’s power, so they won’t work in the event of a power outage. Here are some examples:

  • iSmartAlarm
  • Kangaroo
  • Lorex
  • Wyze
  • Night Owl
  • Notion
  • Swann

I am in no way saying that these smart security companies aren’t worth looking into, but you should definitely be aware of their disadvantages as well.

Power Outage Tips

power-outage-tips
Power Outage Tips

Like I said, no matter how technologically advanced we are, at this point, power outages are still not uncommon. This section discusses how a power outage can affect you, some tips you can take to prepare for a power outage, and the best practices for during a power outage.

Consequences Of Power Outages

what-happens-home-security-system-power-goes-out
Power Outage Tips

Aside from your lights being off, making it hard to walk around and do most activities, there are a few other things that power outages affect. Of course, there’s your security system, if it doesn’t have any other form of backup. Your food and water may spoil if it’s perishable, medical devices may not work, and stores might be closed. That’s why it’s important to prepare for a power outage before it happens, which brings me to my next point…

Preparing For Power Outages

security-system-power-outage
Flashlight

What are some preventative measures to take while you’ve still got electricity? For starters,

  • Take inventory: Look around your house and think of everything that relies on electricity, especially if you use any electric medical devices. Think of a Plan B for medical devices along with food and anything else you want to keep functioning.
  • Research medications: Some medications need to be stored at certain temperatures, so prepare for that beforehand.
  • Buy batteries, etc.: To power everything, you might need batteries or other power alternatives aside from electricity (see above for your options).
  • Sign up for alerts: Whether it’s weather alerts, local alerts, or warning systems, make sure you stay abreast of your neighborhood’s power.
  • Get flashlights: The most old-school option, all of the members in your households should have flashlights (with extra batteries, of course).
  • Buy nonperishable food: I’m not suggesting you prepare for Doomsday, but there are a bunch of food items that won’t perish that can be incredibly useful during a blackout.
  • Put a thermometer in your fridge and freezer: That way if you lose power and you see that the temperature has risen above 40 degrees, you know to throw everything out.

With some careful planning, you can stay safe, comfortable, and fed during a power outage.

Tips For During Power Outages

power-outage-tips
Gas Oven

So, you’re in a power outage. What are the best practices to protect yourself and your family? Well, according to the Department of Homeland Security, you should:

  • Close fridges and freezers: If you’re not letting the cool air, then food can last up to four hours in the fridge and up to 48 hours in the freezer.
  • Use generator outdoors: Also make sure it’s away from windows.
  • Don’t use your gas stove: Although it may be a nice way to heat your home, avoid using your gas stove.
  • Disconnect appliances and electronics: To avoid electrical surges, disconnect all of your appliances and electronics.
  • Keep phones charged and gas tanks full: This one’s obvious, and good motivation to plug in your phone and hit the gas station frequently.

If you follow all of these steps, you can handle a power outage like a pro.

Recap

With a few simple steps, you can prepare for a power outage and keep your home safe while doing it by backing up your security system’s power. If you have more questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll respond as soon as possible.

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner is an attorney and journalist with a passion for home tech and secure, efficient living. Since graduating from NYU Law, he has maintained a paradoxical existence of trying to live life adventurously while remaining staunchly risk-averse. He is torn by the dual desires of wanting to only be in Brooklyn writing about housing policy and smart home tech and aspiring to visit his friends scattered across the globe. Gabe believes that stable, safe communities are the cornerstone to a vibrant and healthy society, and it is this passion that brought him to contribute to Security Baron.

Leave a Comment