Conventional Vs Addressable? Fire Alarm Panels Discussed

Fire Alarm Panels

Fire alarm installation has become more commonplace over the years with the number of installations increasing in both new builds and retrospective fitting to existing buildings.  Now seen as a necessity rather than an additional feature, fire alarms are almost routinely fitted. When considering a fire alarm installation, you will need to decide between fitting a conventional fire alarm panel or an addressable panel.

Fire Alarm PanelsThe conventional alarm is also known as the zoned system and works with around 2 – 4 zones although it can be expanded up to 36 zones.  Each zone works with a 24VDC circuit and has on average 15- 20 detection devices. When a fire is detected, the alarm will tell you which zoned area has the fire – the fire alarm panel is unable to specify where the fire is exactly. In the case of large buildings where the conventional fire alarm panel may say for example ‘First Floor Zone’ this will not aid the fire brigade to find the fire quickly. This is why the modern addressable fire alarm was created.

 

The addressable fire system has a much more precise operating system – each individual detection device has its own identification address and so when a fire is detected by that device, its exact location can be transmitted to the addressable fire alarm panel so the fire can be located instantly. This system has such specific information that it can transmit and for this reason it is becoming a popular choice for fire alarm installations.

Here we look at the differences between the two systems so you can decide which is more suitable for your fire alarm installation.

  • An addressable fire alarm system will provide you with information about individual detectors in the system. A conventional fire alarm system will only have information about general zones.
  • You can label different detectors on an addressable fire alarm system to allow for easy identification in the event of an emergency. This can allow for smarter operation and a higher level of security due to the specific pinpointing possible with this system.
  • Addressable systems have a pre alarm warning which allows trained personnel to investigate problems before the main sirens sound. This can give you some precious moments to call the fire brigade and evacuate the premises.
  • Addressable systems will allow the alteration of the alarm threshold of the different detectors to allow for the different environments and therefore different needs of each detector. This allows you greater flexibility and increases the sensitivity of particular detectors that are in key areas.
  • Addressable systems are wired in a loop whilst the conventional zoned alarm systems are wired as radial circuits.
  • Addressable systems have a clock and event log which records system events on all detection devices to provide you with a comprehensive report.
  • Some addressable systems have the capability to use sophisticated programming to improve your fire alarm system so you can adapt and build the ideal fire installation system for your needs.
  • An addressable system is more complicated to set up than a conventional zoned alarm system.
  • An addressable Fire alarm installation can be 50% – 100% more expensive than a conventional system. This is because it is more complicated, more sensitive and more specific a system than the zoned fire alarm systems.

Which fire alarm installation system you choose will depend on your requirements, budget and personal preference but the key point is just to install a fire alarm system.

If you would like to know more, why not join our Fire Alarm Installation course? Contact us for more information or to book a place on our next available course.

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