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How Often Should I Replace Alarm System Batteries?

The first question to ask is, does your home security system even have batteries? Some alarm systems run off battery power and some run off AC power through a wire in the wall.

However, most modern security systemsuse some combination of hardwire electricity and batteries. Here are a few common alarm setup scenerios :

  • Backup Batteries are commonly installed to account for power failures.
  • Battery-Only Devices are a great option when access to an electrical source isn't readily available.
  • Control Panels usually run on AC power but contain a backup battery
  • Hardwire Smoke Detectors usually contain backup batteries
  • Motion Detectors commonly run entirely off battery power due to their isolated placement.
  • Home Security Cameras can be hardwired, battery powered, or use a combination.

Batteries Can Help Solve Accessibility Problems

When a AC power can't reach a security feature, batteries are typically the solution. Fortunately, the lifespan and power capactiy of batteries is constantly being improved. In fact, batteries are slated to continue improving to a vast degree in the coming years.

If you do have batteries in your alarm system, then you can save yourself a lot of trouble, inconvenience and late-night service visits by changing out batteries on a regular schedule.

Honeywell Smoke Detector

The Cost of Replacing Alarm Batteries

A good rule of thumb is to change back up control batteries about every 3 to 5 years, depending on the system, type of batteries and how often the system is in use.

Motion sensor batteries and the batteries on window and door contacts also last about 3 to 5 years, but some of the newer devices coming out can last as long as 7 years.

Hiring a technician to check all of your batteries is probably not worth the cost and effort. You are better off just going ahead and replacing any older or questionable batteries in your system while the technician is there.

Changing Security System Batteries

DIY Vs. Hiring A Technician?

If you have a basic understanding of electrical devices and feel handy, it’s usually quite easy to replace security system batteries on your own, but we advise customers to hire a professional if they have any concern.

What Type of Battery Does My Alarm System Need?

Some alarm systems use 9 volt or AA batteries, while other systems use specially designed batteries. If you aren't sure what type of battery is needed for your home security system contact your alarm system provider.

If you do chose to venture into replacing a battery on your own, be sure to use the same voltage rating and amp-hour rating already installed in each device. Those with motion detectors should be prepared to work from a ladder in order to access those devices.

Quick Tip: Use a sharpie and a piece of tape to mark the replacement date on each battery

Different Battery Options for Security Systems

Power Outages and Backup Control Panel Batteries

Although control panels that run entirely off battery power exist, most professionally installed control panelsare set up to run off AC power and include backup batteries in case power is lost.

Backup control panel batteries are designed to run for about 24 to 48 hoursbefore going dead. The average power outage here in Virginia lasts less than two hours, so these systems can typically cover the gap without any problems.

Backup Security System batteries will recharge themselves using the AC power connection when power is restored.

Honeywell Control Panel

What if My Backup Battery Goes Completely Dead?

If your home alarm system encounters a scenario in which the backup control panel battery is run long enough to go completely dead, the event may cause residual damage to the battery in what is referred to as "deep-cycling."

Alarm manufacturers have solved this problem with most of the systems being installed today, but older systems are at risk of deep-cycle battery damage, which can drastically reduce the life and effectiveness of a control panel backup battery.

Can Low Batteries Cause False Alarms?

If you have an elderly family member that gets confused by the alarm system, it’s a good rule of thumb to schedule a battery replacement for them about every three years to avoid any issues or problems.

Although a low battery in a motion sensor typically results in a message to the control panel, it’s possible for an inconsistent power source to trigger a false alarm.

Regularly Replacing Batteries Helps Reduce False Alarms

False alarms create unnecessary stress for anyone, but especially for elderly customers, many of whom get upset and confused. The confusion can be greatly worsened if the alarm goes off in the middle of the night.

Sometimes additional training can help, but no one wants grandpa getting riled up in the middle of the night for no reason. To help avoid the problem all together - replace alarm system batteries on a regular schedule.

Is Alarm Battery Technology Improving?

Battery Power IMprovements Illustration

Alarm manufacturers have solved the deep-cycle problem in backup control panel batteries and are working diligently to improve both battery life spans and energy outputs.

Twenty-five years ago, battery powered devices weren’t even an option. We’ve already seen a marked improvement in battery life spans since their first introduction and expect the trend to continue as technology improves.

Control panels are also becoming more advanced and many use less energy while taking up less space.

Is It Time to Upgrade Your Alarm System?

Not only are alarm batteries getting better and lasting longer, but alarm technology, in general, continues to improve. Security companies now provide HD video doorbells, smart home security features, and fantastic home security camera options, like CCTV and Videofied.

However, it's probably not neccessary to upgrade all these things at once. If you purchased an alarm system 5 to 10 years ago, don’t feel like you have to rush out and get all the latest and greatest security features. Consider upgrading you home security system over time, adding a few new components every few years.

Need Help Replacing Alarm Batteries in Richmond, Virginia?

Contact Richmond Alarm Company if you’d like to learn more about home alarm systems or aren’t sure the last time your alarm batteries were replaced.