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Types of Fire Alarm Systems: Conventional vs. Addressable

Any fire alarm system is designed and planned with the aim of alerting all people who are in a certain place, that there is a threat. This emergency tool has the main objective of allowing us to make urgent decisions in the shortest possible time. Therefore, its design seeks to protect the general public and especially the personnel designated for an emergency.

Today, you can find fire alarm systems in a diverse set of locations. Some of the most common places are public buildings, factories, and offices. This means that it seeks to protect those places where there are large numbers of people every day.

As an additional point, there is extensive legislation in several countries of the world that requires having a fire alarm system, in those public or workplaces. This manages to save many lives by detecting any emergency as soon as possible.

So when the sirens start working and the alarm goes off, it means that the detection method, whatever it is, begins to warn every person in the building that fire is highly likely. After that, people should start evacuating from that place as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Main features A fire Alarm System Should Have

An additional point, which some fire alarm systems have, is that they offer the ability to alert firefighters at the same time the fire is detected. This remote signal is usually included in the alarm system and sends the alert through a central station. Without a doubt, it is a great time that is saved, and in the same way, it prevents the situation from getting worse.

In this article, we will compare two types of alarms, in particular, that is, the conventional alarm system and the addressable alarm system.

First of all, both systems have their main system, or rather their brain, on the control panel, which any fire alarm system offers. It is the most important place for this type of system since the rest of the devices are connected and controlled from it. In this way, this central part manages to send all the signals to each of the detectors and provides the appropriate information on the different states to the user.

It is a fairly common situation that the correct and efficient way of evacuating a certain public space is not known in public places. For this, there are fire drills that train those people who transit, or work, daily in a certain place.

Which is the preferred one?

For this, there are many fire alarm systems that offer the necessary configuration to simulate an alarm. In this way, when the alarm simulates a fire, the practice evacuation begins. Thus, the personnel involved in the drill learn in a better way, the precise and appropriate measures to take during a real fire.

Today there is a group of specialists who are divided when it comes to commenting on the most effective type of fire alarm system. Generally, most specialists themselves consider addressable fire alarm systems a better option. On the other hand, there are a large number of installers of security systems who would opt for a conventional fire alarm system.

So we can mention that each of these fire alarm systems can offer you a diverse set of benefits and utilities, as well as costs. In order to detect the most suitable option according to each situation, let us see below the particular characteristics of each of these systems.

Conventional fire alarm system

First of all, we must know what is understood when we talk about a conventional fire alarm system. When we refer to any fire alarm system, probably the first thing that is understood is that we refer to the conventional system. However, it is not the only system that exists on the market today, nor has it been for a long time.

Therefore, if you do not work or are not related to the fire industry, then it is likely that you do not know the difference between them or unless you have learned that there is more than one fire alarm system.

So, when talking about a conventional fire alarm system, we are saying that it is an alarm that manages to identify the manual call point, or the activated detector, through zone LEDs. This turns out to be slightly different than text messages from addressable systems, which end up being displayed on an LCD screen. Therefore, if you have a conventional fire alarm system you will notice that when you activate a certain fire zone then a red LED will light up.

In your control panel, you can see all the zones included in your system, each with the availability of a red LED that can be turned on or off. Therefore, every time you intend to activate or deactivate a zone, you must verify where each one is, and you will appreciate that the detector is activated if it has a red LED on.

This allows you to appreciate that, in general, conventional systems turn out to be basic and useful, although they fail to offer the innovative advantages that addressable fire alarm systems can provide. Also, you can see that the information that the control panel of the conventional fire alarm system manages to provide turns out to be very basic and therefore easy to understand for any user.

Therefore, each user must search the area or zone to locate detect the fire or activated deposit. This particular feature manages to increase the time of what is known as seek and search, especially if your system has a large number of devices.

For this reason, this type of device is used in relatively small places such as family homes. On the contrary, they are not very convenient in the case of large buildings, or also in the case of systems with devices that are not accessible or that have many devices. On the other hand, more and more companies offering fire alarm systems are increasingly decreasing the number of those systems that are convenient to install, instead of the higher so-called addressable systems. This occurs because the cost of addressable fire alarm systems is relatively less.

On the other hand, we must mention that some conventional fire alarm systems are still requested in a certain way. One of these conventional systems is the so-called double flex or 2-wire, which is one of the most profitable options when it comes to low budget systems. In the same way, there is another system which is the fire extinguishing system, for which the most accurate and appropriate option continues to be conventional systems.

So we must also mention that addressable systems were on the rise, in demand, and popularity, for fire extinguishing systems in general. However, this trend has been stopped due to a set of European applications and standards. This has simply caused manufacturers to be unwilling to implement the investments required for their products to be accepted, resulting in many products being withdrawn from these markets.

Addressable Fire Alarm System

First, we must understand that those conventional systems work using a set of radial detection circuits. These circuits are in turn installed separately, in each of the zones or areas of interest. Depending on the size of the fire alarm system that is contracted, each system has at least two siren circuits throughout the installation.

In turn, the devices that the system has are generally simple two-state devices, which of course are on and off. These systems use different levels of resistance, that is, different levels of load, to communicate with the control panel and send it signals.

Therefore addressable fire alarm systems use a different technology known as data communication technology to monitor and provide greater control. This control is exercised individually towards a set of devices that detect and sound the alarm on a single circuit. A ring or loop shape is generally present.

Each of the devices in the system is assigned a specific number, which is a unique identification, that is, its address. Besides, the central control panel is capable of being configured to provide the desired response, through location text, and together with this, it also reports the type of alarm, zone information, among other things.

This allows a selection device such as when to activate an output device or an alarm. The specific type of addressing may be different in complex systems with the technology called automatic addressing, or also soft addressing. Also, the addressing can vary if we consider those with manual programmers or single-switch binary coding, the characteristic of which is that they incorporate a system, so each device is known as rigid addressing.

In general, those devices that are in charge of detection include with them a technology known as analogue technology. This technology is used to provide a more accurate and appropriate sensitivity, which in turn is usually sometimes adjustable, depending on whether alarm conditions are taken into account. On the other hand, this is not related to the so-called analogue communications which include a somewhat old style.

Instead, it is more related to the method each of the sensors uses to transform a certain variable signal voltage into a certain digital number, which undoubtedly leaves room for analysis. One of these signals can be, for example, smoke detection among many others.

This type of fire alarm system offers a certain innovation and manages to provide several advantages over the conventional fire alarm system. First of all, the installation costs decrease enormously since a smaller extension of cables is needed for this type of system. In each of the devices, as well as in each of the specific areas, it has simple wiring which is based on a common loop.

Another of its favourable qualities is that it manages to provide greater adaptability to include different types of alterations and changes without the need for any changes in the wiring. Furthermore, sirens can integrate more adequately and simply with detection.

Along with this, you can get some text identification about the point in case the alarm sounds, preventing only one area or zone number from being reported. Finally, you have in this type of alarm a set of diagnostic tools that include an event log that is oriented to fault detection.

Relationship with a system installer

You should carefully check that system that you need to install because it is false that those small systems need to be based on old conventional fire technologies. Therefore, if you consider a system that is simple addressable, then it is a service that has a high competitiveness rate, in the same way, that it will be offering each of the users a more convenient and effective solution for all your needs.

Don’t let those obstacles and scenarios that turn out to be very complex, about addressing discourage you, as well as the continuous need to use a PC to program and configure your fire alarm system. This is because the most modern addressable systems available in the UK security market today offer the right technology as they use a set of simple addressing techniques.

Along with the above, this type of system will not need tools that are specifically for programming, and that are based on a PC. Beyond the fact that all users today are familiar with the use of a PC, it is not necessary for a user who decides to install an addressable fire alarm system that has advanced skills or is an expert in the field. On the contrary, any PC user who has an average or normal skill in handling the PC will be able to properly configure their alarm system.

Therefore, it is always preferable to ask your supplier to recommend the best option among the products available for sale. With which, the vast majority of providers are familiar with this type of situation, so they can offer you the most appropriate solution according to their own needs. This is because they are already quite used to the aforementioned changes between the various fire alarm systems that are available today as well as those that are available but are no longer as convenient.

Calder Security is one of the best specialists established to provide you with the best overall fire alarm systems and security and protection for your home as well as your business. Therefore, in a market where multiple options promise to guarantee the safety of your home or business in regards to fires, here you will find the best advice and support, along with wide availability.

This undoubtedly means that obtaining the best and most adequate security will no longer be a problem, thanks to the most innovative fire alarm systems on the market.

FAQ’s

What is a loop in a fire alarm system?

When we talk about a fire alarm system, then we are saying that it probably includes a certain one of a loop. Therefore a loop refers to a pair of cables. These cables are intended to carry signals and energy between each of the circuit boards that are inside the control panel, as well as in each of the devices in the different areas, that is, outside the control panel.

How many smoke detectors can you have in one loop?

There is a maximum number to interconnect smoke detectors, which are 12 if we are referring to the NFPA 72 standards. Then you must ensure at all times that each of the smoke alarms offers the necessary compatibility to interconnect. In combination with the 12 smoke alarms that you can connect, it will also have the capacity to include approximately up to 6 compatible devices, such as bell lights or door closers.

What is the maximum distance between smoke detectors?

Generally speaking, smoke alarms do not have a preset maximum distance. However, we can mention that the most recommended distance between each of the detectors is approximately 30 feet. On the other hand, if you intend to install smoke detectors in hallways up to 10 feet wide, then you can extend the distance to 41 feet. What is important to remember is that all points on the ceiling must not exceed 21 feet from the detector.

Final Words

To conclude this article we must mention that each of these fire alarm systems can provide different specific functionalities as well as different benefits depending on the particular situation. Therefore, to get the best use of each one, it should be taken into account, of course, if you intend to install a fire alarm system in a home, in a small or large building, or perhaps even in an office.

So, we can mention that the addressable fire alarm system can offer a set of benefits that turn out to be greater for each of the situations since you will mainly obtain a low cost of installation along with the possibility of configuring your system simply and simply. It only remains for you to check the best options in alarm systems that are available and start living more safely and calmly.

 

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Photo by Dave Phillips on Unsplash