Newsletter/Blog


2020-01-06
CBAR Load shedding advisory –Keeping you in the Loop- December 2019


Dear Valued CBAR Client,

CBAR has received various notifications from Alarm Communication service providers, as well as from Vodacom with regard to the load shedding currently being experienced.

A national supplier of GPRS communication on the Vodacom and MTN network stated that some clients might experience slow, limited or no signal communication during power outages. Load shedding and the resulting repeat power failures, pose a risk to the availability of all data services across all the cellular networks.  GPRS radio signals may also be affected in some instances. The installation of a VHF radio transmitter should be used as backup and secondary means of alarm communication.

Should you have any queries regarding your alarm and load shedding please contact our technical department on 0860 151515 or via email to colin@citybowlsecurity.co.za.

Vodacom sent out a notification:  “customers’ country wide will be experiencing issues connecting to the network because of stage 4 load shedding currently in place.  Their “towers do use battery backups which have limited power and will eventually fail.  Generators have also been utilized at numerous sites across the country.”

This may result in the CBAR monitoring centre not being able to contact you on your cellular phone to inform you of an alarm activation.  It is our company policy to dispatch a response vehicle to the client on receiving a burglary or panic signal, even if NO contact can be made telephonically.

The SMS service is also affected, as our SMS’s sent out during power outages for AC fails, AC restorals, as well as a myriad of other signals are reliant on the networks.  They are sent out via modems and only get delivered by the networks some time after power is restored.  This results in delayed SMS’s being received by some clients as there is a bottleneck on the 1000’s of SMS’s generated and sent out during each load shedding period.

CBAR may reduce the number of SMS’s sent out in the near future, as there are many phone calls made to clients regarding an alarm signal or activation that are duplicated by an SMS.  These SMS’s are being delivered late, as we, like other security service providers, are reliant on network availability of 3rd party service providers that have been disrupted through a network issue or load shedding.

Please note: Load shedding has a direct impact on the Monitoring and Armed Response service.  The Monitoring Centre receives a much higher number of alarm signals and this may result in a delay in either contacting you as the client or a potential delay in responding to your property due to the volumes of signals received or traffic congestion, especially during peak hours.

We attach part of the March 2019 Newsflash pertaining to load shedding.

CBAR has implemented additional measures quite some time ago to deal with abnormally high levels of alarm activations that will certainly have an effect on the Central Monitoring Centre (CMC) during load shedding.  Both the duration taken to call back clients as well as response times due to high volumes of signals received will increase.  CBAR will prioritise load shedding areas as these areas become more vulnerable to criminals during these outages.  Criminals will take advantage of the dark areas and by studying load shedding time tables, they will know when and where to increase their activity. In response CBAR will rotate our assets on the road to match areas with power outages.

What happens to your alarm during load shedding?

  • Your alarm system is powered by a 12v battery contained in the control panel housing.  It is charged via a charger board, which in turn is charged by a transformer, which is plugged into an electrical socket.
  • The battery backup is not designed to be used on an ongoing basis, especially for a week at a time, 2/3 times a day for 2.5 hours as recently experienced.  This will definitely have a detrimental effect on the battery and shorten its lifespan.
  • The battery requires approximately 4 hours to recharge itself provided that it is good condition.
  • If your keypad goes blank during load shedding, it means your battery needs replacing.  Your alarm system, including panic buttons will not work.
  • The greater number of zones on the alarm system, the quicker the battery backup will become depleted.  Between 4-6 hours on a system using up to 8 zones; 8-16 zone alarms, takes 3-4 hours and up to and beyond 32 zones possibly 3 hours backup time.
  • If your current system is using more than 16 zones, especially if the majority of the zones comprise of motion detectors, it is advisable to install a power pack.
  • Your system should “beep” continuously whilst displaying a trouble light / symbol on the keypad before it completely shuts down.
  • If your battery backup is in good condition, it will start to re-charge once the power to the system has been restored, again taking approximately 4 hours.
  • Wireless systems do use less power and are able to last up to 6 hours.

Note:  Power surges caused by unprecedented levels of load shedding, may result in the alarm panel blowing.  Your alarm system is made of electronic components and may at any time cease to work.  It is advisable to have some surge protection installed, even the use of surge protection plugs are advised.  Other electrical appliances such as televisions, decoders and fridges may be affected by the power surges. Older alarms and transformers have no element of surge protection.

Alarm systems should ideally have dual monitoring which means that the alarm signal is transmitted to the CMC via either radio transmitter, GPRS radio or telephone.  Just using telephone monitoring is not an adequate medium for alarm monitoring, and a radio transmitter should be linked to the alarm.  Telkom lines may fail during load shedding.

What happens in our CMC when there is load shedding?

  • Our CMC has the required backup systems that are implemented to ensure a smooth switch over from one facility to another in the event of an interruption of power supply.
  • Your alarm system sends a multitude of additional signals to the CMC.
  • During load shedding, your alarm will firstly generate an AC fail signal, defaulted to be sent through 20 – 30 minutes later, after the power has failed, telling our staff that there is a power failure on your system.  This delay is set in case the alarm is mistakenly unplugged for some reason.
  • The low battery signal thereafter generally indicates that your battery is about to fail.  Our CMC should get the low battery signal, and provided that the alarm system programming is correct, will call you advising you of the trouble condition.

Please be advised that if an entire area is affected, it is not possible to call all the clients as it would be an almost impossible task whilst still dealing with the standard burglary, panic, 24 hour test and opening and closing signals.

CBAR has standby technicians available 24 hours a day.  After hours call out rates are charged after 5pm on weekdays and over weekends and public holidays. There could be a significant delay in getting a technician to attend to your alarm fault due to logistical reasons during load shedding.

Our CMC is contactable on 0860 151515 all hours.

Be prepared;

  1. Load shedding schedules are printed in various newspapers and also available on the app “EskomSePush”- (one word) so don’t get caught out.
  2. Keep your vehicles fuel topped up as certain petrol stations can’t operate during load shedding.
  3. Similarly, it is advisable to keep some cash on hand in the event ATM’s are non-functional.
  4. Keep all cell phones, rechargeable torches and laptops fully charged as far as possible.
  5. As mentioned before, ensure your alarm systems battery backup / power packs are in good condition so that your alarm system remains functional.
  6. If finances allow, invest in a generator to run certain appliances and always keep spare fuel stored in a safe, cool, dry place.
  7. A few good quality torches and spare batteries placed at a specific point in the home are a must.  Rechargeable lights are inexpensive and very useful.
  8. If you are cooking and the power goes off, do not forget that once the power comes on again, the appliance will again heat up and could be a fire hazard should you have gone to bed or left the premises before the power is restored.
  9. Check all gates and garage doors are locked and if possible, put a chain and lock on the driveway gate as a further level of security.
  10. Keep a supply of bottled water, some non-perishable food stuffs, pet food, medication, toiletries, first aid supplies etc. for just in case.
  11. As we have been experiencing load shedding in the summer months over weekends when the demand is at its lowest, the possibility EXISTS that during the winter months even further strain may be placed on the electricity grid. 

IF IT’S URGENT – PHONE CBAR 0860 151515

For all security / medical and general assistance.

24 hours a day, only minutes away.

VISIT our web-site on www.cbar.co.za for all our stats.

 

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Best wishes and kind regards for the festive season.

 

Alan Kusevitsky and the CBAR Team