Tech Trends: Remote Power Management

Feb. 11, 2015
How it works, where it applies and more

I recently read a whitepaper from Minuteman Power Technologies dealing with the subject of remote power management that discusses the need for a capability to remotely reboot devices through power cycling, as well as proper procedures and associated economics.

There are quite a few important takeaways from this whitepaper (available at, which should also lead to a look at other means and devices for remote reboot, and, finally, to consider what power “management” should ultimately mean.

Where Remote Power Management Applies

The whitepaper essentially makes the case for using Minuteman’s Remote Power Manager product, which works as a companion to an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). With multiple network devices connected to a UPS, recycling the UPS is really not an option. The remote management device is available with 2, 8 or 16 outlet ports and is programmed via web browser through a single static IP address. The outputs can then be selectively rebooted with sequencing to minimize the effects of inrush current.

This technique is probably most appropriate for servers, NVRs and DVRs, and certain network gear. According to Bill Allen, Minuteman Director of Marketing, this product has been “very convenient for anyone managing lots of locations.” That said, it is probably not appropriate for PoE switches or mid-span injectors with more than a very few devices, since all of these devices would be rebooted on a power cycle; however, several other options are available for IP end-devices. For example, video camera manufacturers’ viewing and management software frequently provides a camera reboot function, often with a factory default option, if supported by the camera. Many general-purpose video management systems (VMS) also provide this function.

For cameras and other devices that depend on a power supply, companies such as Altronix and LifeSafety Power offer remote capabilities for their products that provide control over the DC output. Looking ahead, network management software, such as that offered by Microsoft, has the potential to reboot devices supporting SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) with appropriate MIBs, which are Management Information Bases — a database of objects in the device tracked by the SNMP agent installed in that device. In short, they define the information that can be retrieved or altered in a device. As mentioned in previous columns, there is an important industry initiative underway by SIA to standardize MIB’s for important functions such as device reboot.

How Power Management Works

What should “management” really mean when it comes to power? Clearly, the answer involves more than just recycling power.

First, it starts with connectivity. Power devices have arguably been the last bastion of connectivity, but all three companies mentioned above have taken a lead in changing that adding intelligent monitoring and control functionality to their products. Minuteman provides this capability through the addition of an optional SNMP card to a number of its UPS and Remote Power Management products. This allows the products to track and document incoming power issues from the utility, obtain event notifications, schedule shutdowns and restarts, and employ PCs and smartphones. Optional modules for temperature and humidity sensing and detection of smoke, water, vibration or door contact are available. Importantly, enhanced security is provided by SSL, SSH, HTTPS, and SNMPv3 employing encrypted communications, and RADIUS authentication server support.

Managed PoE switches usually offer significant PoE management capability. Features include the ability to monitor and control each port encompasses port activation, PoE power class, maximum power, port shutdown priority, total power consumption, powered device current and wattage, and temperature. All of this is important because, while a PoE switch might offer maximum power on all ports, it often happens that the total power rating for the switch is less than the maximum total potential power offered by all ports combined.

Earmarking a port’s priority for load shedding is critical to device operation. Hopefully, the switch will be dedicated to physical security purposes, with the security manager controlling the priority for shutdown. Any decent managed switch will support SNMP with industry standard MIBs, as defined in IETF RFC 3621, which dates back to Dec. 2003. To use this feature, the switch and network management software must both support a PoE MIB (MIBs may be downloaded for the software if not already supported).

Note that certain midspan injectors may also be monitored and managed. For example, PowerDSine offers port enable, power status monitoring, statistics on faulty ports and power consumption, and indication of excess power configurations.

Power Management at the Device Level

For devices using power supplies, the Altronix LINQ2 module, with the new eFlow series, will support two power supply/chargers and provide local and remote control of DC outputs and on-board Form “C” relays. It monitors AC status, DC current draw, DC voltage level and battery status, and supports email and SNMP notifications.

LifeSafety Power offers the NL4, an optional network communications module with 12 monitored parameters for up to 24 outputs, including battery voltage, charge current, and age; DC load current and output voltage; and, configurable event. It offers test functions for the battery, two controlled outputs, 8 programmable functions, and email alerts and reports for nine different parameters. A time and date stamped log is maintained in the device buffer. SNMP is supported through v3, the most secure version.

Given the combination of industry efforts, available technology and the “monitor everything” mentality in the Internet of Things era, it stands to reason that monitoring and managing the security power infrastructure will be a customer expectation. Manufacturers and integrators both can help insure that a customer’s security network is as robust as possible.

Ray Coulombe is Founder and Managing Director of and He can be reached at [email protected], through LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter @RayCoulombe.

About the Author

Ray Coulombe

Ray Coulombe is founder of, the industry’s largest searchable database of specifiers in the physical security and ITS markets. He is also Principal Consultant for Gilwell Technology Services. He can be reached at [email protected] or through LinkedIn.