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Don't Forget To Tell Your Electrical Engineer This

Coordination is a major part of any construction project and security systems are no different. Depending on the size of the security system to be installed there may be several electrical connections to building power distributions systems, low voltage cabling generally 24-volts D/C, ethernet, and fiber optic cabling.

The electrical engineer who is designing the power distribution system needs to know what your system requires. To get this right start your conversation early and make sure its on their radar. If not you might be out of luck when the security subcontractor tries running their cabling and finds no conduits or cable tray available. Like wise the electrical subcontractor needs to know of any changes in your design. A late change order asking for an additional 40 card readers is going to be painful, but it will be much worse if the electrical subcontractor isn't made aware immediately.

While most of the low voltage cabling is provided by the security subcontractor most of the conduits are not. As early as possible the designer and the security subcontractor need to coordinate with the engineer and electrical subcontractor to ensure the proper size and number of conduits. This is especially important before exterior and interior masonry being installed. As the conduits are installed many masonry walls are than filled with mortar preventing any further conduit installation without time consuming and costly remediation.

Conduit sizing can also play a factor if devices are added within the design, but the electrical subcontractor is unaware. The typical conduit fill calculation for electrical cabling is 40% fill rate and is required by code in both the United States and Canada, however network cabling and wiring below 50-volts is not subject to this it is a good idea to follow it closely to prevent damage to the cabling when pulling it through the conduit. If the conduit is too crowded the outer jackets of the cabling can become compromised potentially causing a break which will need to be replaced.

Separate conduits must also be provided for anything below 50-volts per code security and network cabling cannot share the same conduit as electrical power. There are a number of reasons for this especially interference with the security or networking components, however in the event of damage of insulation on electrical power cabling the security or network cabling may become ground for the higher voltages resulting in damage to equipment.

Lastly, the electrical subcontractor will need to know what equipment needs power connections and what type. Some security installations such as high power PTZ cameras may require a dedicated twist lock receptacle to provide the high wattage required for operation. This may be up to 90-watts depending on the camera. Installations with several of these cameras will affect the power distribution system including breaker sizing. In other cases access control panels are generally provided with breakers internal to the cabinet which will accept a hardwired connection in lieu of a receptacle. Without this clarification the engineer and the electrical subcontractor might install a receptacle below or behind the security panel location.

As you can see electrical and security subcontractors as well as the security designer and electrical engineer need to work closely together to provide the appropriate infrastructure to support the project. The key to success is early coordination meetings and good specifications. It is also good to have the security scope contracted early enough to assist in design development prior to any issues coming up during construction.

Do you have a security project coming up? Need help making sure you have the right electrical infrastructure to support it? Want to prevent major issues during construction? We can help. Email us at

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