As school zone beacon systems have evolved, they have added increasing amounts of technology into what was traditionally a simple set-up. Gone are the days of manual updates to accommodate snow days, holidays or any other changes in the school schedule. Additionally, new school zone beacon systems do not require drive-by viewing to ensure every beacon is working properly.
New technology in school beacons provides simple, on-line scheduling updates that can be made to all locations simultaneously. It also allows for automated reporting of battery power and maintenance issues to accommodate for proactive maintenance. Many departments that manage older school beacons ask if it’s necessary to install a brand new system to take advantage of the new technology or if upgrade options are available.
School beacon system upgrade options
The biggest question most departments have is if they can upgrade their current set-up or if they need to install a brand new system. The answer greatly depends upon the current equipment you are using, and many of the components of your current system can likely be reused.
Poles rarely need to be replaced, as do cabinets for housing the equipment. School beacon technology providers should be able to tell you what equipment can be reused and help you establish a priority list of replacement items that can be gradually introduced into your budget. Let’s take a look at some options.
Option 1: A timer switch retrofit
The easiest and most cost-effective option is to retrofit the timer switch. It is the most common solution since the switch is housed in a cabinet that is similar to or the same as many systems already in use. The replacement of the timer switch allows for installation of the updated technology. Automated data collection with the new timer switch can then provide a report of battery and solar power strength allowing the user the opportunity to intelligently replace or initiate a repair as needed.
Option 2: Replacement of base plate
Older systems may require the replacement of the base plate, which includes the
solar charger, the flasher controller, the circuit breaker and the timer switch. While slightly more costly, replacement is as simple as taking the old base plate out and replacing it with the new base plate. The advantage of this approach is that all the electronics in the cabinet are new.
Option 3: Replacement of entire system or entire cabinet
Complete replacement is rarely necessary and is typically only required for new schools or very old systems. When a new install is required remember to request that the installer uses the latest connected technology so that you have a connected system.
Upgrading is easy
Replacing an outdated system is not your only option. Upgrading is much less difficult, less costly and less time consuming than you would might expect. In fact, it’s likely that it’s all you’ll need to bring the newest technology and benefits to your school beacon system.