Addressable vs. Conventional Fire Alarms

Aug 27, 2020

When determining what type of fire alarm systems are best for your business, it boils down to your choice between a conventional and addressable alarm system. The combination of smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide detectors work together with your control panel to keep your business safe. Additionally, you will need to determine what kind of automatic and manual fire alarms you want to be installed.

While the installation for different systems may vary, the type of system you require will be in part described by the NFPA standards and the Authority Having Jurisdiction in your area.

Conventional Fire Alarm Systems

A conventional alarm system has numerous devices on a single pair of wires and may cover up to 20,000 square feet per zone.  Typically, conventional systems are used for small facilities with few devices.  Because there may be numerous devices on a single pair of wires, when an alarm is activated there is no indication of which device was initiated at the panel. In order to determine which device was initiated you will have to inspect each device. Conventional systems are typically no longer acceptable by Authorities Having Jurisdictions. 

Addressable Fire Alarm Systems

In contrast, an addressable system connects all devices using a loop, a single pair of wires for as many as 250 devices. Each device on the loop has an address as well as a description which is usually the location. When an alarm is activated, the individual address and description is displayed on the panel LCD. These systems are the most used system across the industry today. Most jurisdictions require addressable systems.

These are better suited for large and complex systems because the loop technology means simplified wiring. Additionally, an addressable system offers more protection against false alarms because there are options that allow you to set up warning triggers. These warnings can help you identify potential false alarms and solve the issue before evacuating a large building.

Cost Differences

Conventional alarm systems are less expensive because the equipment required is simple, but they are more time consuming and labor-intensive to install because of the multiple connections to the control panel.

An addressable system requires less wire and is a more simplified connection to the control panel itself. Addressable systems include more updated technology and advanced options, which would make it more expensive.

How to Choose

Generally, the size and type of your business will determine whether an addressable or conventional system is best suited to your building.

Addressable systems offer significantly advanced technology. New smoke detectors that can tell the difference between a smoke particle and steam. Troubleshooting problems is significantly reduced on addressable systems due to advance software and programming built into the system. In general, addressable systems are the best option for most facilities. If you still aren’t sure, our experts at FSS Technologies can assess your needs and help you determine what equipment and devices your building will require.

Once you have determined and installed your fire alarm system, you will be able to create fire safety procedures for your workplace and begin training your employees to be familiar with the system.

Give the fire alarm pros at FSS Technologies a call to learn more about our security and fire alarm system installation options. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.

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