One of the most common questions.....
Conventional VS Addressable
Conventional systems are hardware-based and use analog technology. Conventional fire alarm systems are made up of zones. Multiple devices, make up a zone which connect to the main control panel. Conventional systems are analog in that they use electrical currents to communicate with the control panel. Initiating and notification devices are designed to dramatically increase the current in the circuit (the amount of electricity flowing through the wires) any time the environmental conditions (heat or smoke) in the area of the sensor exceed a predetermined threshold. This change in the current is communicated to the control panel to trigger the alarm.
Because a conventional system relies on individual circuits to communicate with the control panel, the information the panel can receive is limited to the number of devices it can support. The information is also limited in the sense that it only tells the panel whether a device has been activated or removed, not which device or where.
Instead of relying on changes in the electrical current running through a circuit in a conventional system, with an addressable system digital technology transfers information from the connected devices to the main control panel as binary code – combinations of ones and zeros.
The binary code starts as an analog signal created by variations in voltage within the signaling device. With an addressable device, there is a “mini-computer” that converts these variations into binary code. Depending on the device and the types of information it is designed to convey, an addressable device can transfer a wide variety of critical information to the control panel as opposed to the single triggering signal that conventional systems provide.
Because they use digital technology, addressable systems offer a much broader range in the types of information that the control panel can receive from the devices. While all addressable systems provide the location of every device on the system to the control panel, newer, “analog addressable” systems provide even more information, such as how much smoke or heat the detector is sensing. This information allows the control panel to make “intelligent” decisions such as when or when not to go into alarm mode.
The most important type of information that addressable systems transmit is exactly where the fire is occurring in a building. Because the exact location of each device in an addressable system is programmed in, firefighters know before they even arrive precisely where in the building the fire is occurring, which allows them to respond more quickly to a fire. With a conventional system, unless the area in which the system is protecting is a single room, the firefighters will have to spread out to locate the fire.
False alarms are always an important consideration when choosing a fire alarm system. False alarms are expensive for fire departments in terms of fuel costs, wear and tear on firefighting equipment, wasted time, and the risk of collision and injury when traveling to the scene. Not surprisingly, many jurisdictions now impose fines for false alarms, which can add up quickly for a small business.
False alarms are far more common with conventional systems because the accumulation of dust and other contaminants on the sensors can send false signals to the control panel. These can be difficult to avoid with conventional systems because there is no way to know if the alarm is false until first responders have arrived and determined, after physically seeking out the detector that triggered the alarm that contamination was the culprit.
In contrast, addressable devices can send a variety of information to the control panel, including trouble signals and maintenance alerts. With addressable systems, the alarm panel monitors the sensitivity level of the smoke detectors to prevent the occurrence of false alarms. The sensitivity of the sensors in addressable devices can also be adjusted. Also, addressable devices provide “drift compensation” – the ability to distinguish between subtle changes in the level of smoke detection that occur over time due to contamination, like dust, and rapid changes resulting from a real fire.
An addressable system is generally more reliable than a conventional system mainly due to how the different systems are wired. With a conventional system, if a device’s wire is damaged or severed, its signal and the signal of other devices down the line cannot be transmitted to the control panel.
With an addressable system, both ends of the wire connect to the control panel. Therefore, if one end becomes damaged or severed, signals can still reach the control panel through the other end of the loop. In addressable systems, a device can be removed or disabled and it will not affect the other devices in the loop.
Addressable systems provide a great deal of flexibility in comparison to conventional systems. While the number of devices either system can accommodate is determinant on the manufacturer of the alarm panels, every type of device added to a conventional system requires a new circuit.
Because they require less wire, an addressable alarm control panel can accommodate far more devices than a conventional system. They can have anywhere from one to 30 loops, commonly referred to as a signaling line circuit (SLC), each of which can monitor and control several hundred devices.
Initial Costs and Ongoing Maintenance
The equipment required for conventional systems usually comes with a much lower price tag than addressable systems, which is why conventional systems are still a popular choice for small businesses. However, it is wise to look beyond the initial costs.
Even for small buildings, the lower initial costs to purchase the equipment needed for a conventional system are often offset by higher installation costs. Remember that conventional systems require a single circuit for each zone, one which can lead to much more complex wiring than an addressable system in which all the devices are wired into a single loop. This increase in complexity not only drives up the cost of installation but also introduces a greater risk of human error.
While both types of systems require regular inspections and testing, trouble-shooting and maintenance are easier and less expensive with addressable systems. With independently wired zones in a conventional system, each device must be checked separately to find the problematic device. Addressable devices can send maintenance alerts and trouble signals to the control panel to make finding problematic devices and getting them repaired or replaced much faster.
Annual Testing costs are greatly reduced with an Addressable System. Conventional systems require that all Smoke Detectors have their sensitivity checked annually - this is a time consuming task, requiring each detector to be checked with special meters/tools. Addressable systems report their sensitivity status at the control panel, and continually adjust to keep sensitivity within required values.
Some people will caution against the use of an Addressable system as the ongoing support and device repair/replacement is very costly. While this may be true with Proprietary Manufacturers, where only the manufacturer can provide this service, our system is open, and your current service provider can be certified for continued maintenance. Our detector heads are easily replaced - WITHOUT the need to program or set dials or switches.
Value Added Features and Options
Value Added - included with every system
While every building with an Elevator and a Fire Alarm is required to have a detector at the top of the shaft, this detector is often neglected and not tested and maintained properly. This could lead to false alarms and even detector failure. We provide with every installation with an Elevator, a better solution - That leads to a Lower cost of Maintenance.
→ Conventional methods require that your Elevator Service Provider attend to provide access to the Elevator Shaft, for your annual inspections and any service calls for the detector.
→ We provide an "Air-Sampling Smoke Detector". This detector is located outside of the Elevator Shaft, with a sample tube installed in the Elevator Shaft. This allows for Remote Testing, Service and Repair to the detector, without requiring access
Elevator Emergency Recall
Every Installation is provided with six (6) Elevator Recall Relays, this future proofs your fire alarm system, so that when the Elevator Code requirements for Elevator Recall are required for your elevator, your Fire Alarm system is ready and pre-programmed.
→ By Using our Addressable Fire Alarm system, we can easily interface to the Elevator Controller, and provide a very flexible Sequence of Operation, that can be modified in software as site/code requirements change. Eliminating the need for extensive wire and cable installations at a later date.
→ For more information on Elevator Recall Requirements - visit Technical Safety BC - www.technicalsafetybc.ca/elevating-devices
Internet Connected Notifications
All of our systems include the Web Gateway, enabling Email notifications of all events and remote diagnostic capability. These features can significantly reduce service calls, as your service provider can remotely view system conditions. From there your service provider can advise if a service call is required.
→ Internet Access to be provided by Building
→ Service is not cloud or fee based.
→ This is not a replacement for Building Code required Monitoring
Axis CAX is our highest performing ULC listed panel range and comes complete with digital audio.
All of the Intelligent Fire Alarm Control Panels in the CAX Series consist of identical electronic modules and can be programmed from a laptop PC configuration tool. Axis CAX’s features have been proven to sharply reduce installation time, help identify wiring and programming errors, provide local and remote system diagnostics as well as providing exceptional fire detection without nuisance alarms.
Every Axis CAX panel features Advanced’s unbeatable networking capabilities and Dynamix Tools fire panel software making it easy to use, configure and maintain, from the smallest to the largest of sites and with complicated cause-and effect.