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What are the Pros and Cons of Conventional and Addressable Fire Alarm Systems?

In this blog we look at the key pros and cons of both conventional fire alarm systems and addressable fire alarm systems, assisting customers in making the right choice.


Conventional Fire Alarm Systems

A conventional system identifies the activated detector or manual call point by a zone LED. Due to the simplicity of a conventional system it cannot identify specifically which detector has registered the fire/fault, only the zone that is has occurred in. This type of system makes fault finding time consuming for fire alarm engineers. It means an extended time on site and more costs when repairing the system despite the lower price of the fire alarm devices and fire alarm panels.

As a conventional system uses separate radial circuits for both detectors and sounders, the installation cost can be more than an addressable system. It is due to the amount of cable used, which can be significantly more than the addressable system. Their basic and simplistic nature meaning the build cost is considerably less than an addressable system. It makes a conventional fire alarm system an affordable solution in smaller projects such as small shops, small offices and small schools.


Pros of a Conventional System 

  • A relatively low cost fire alarm system
  • Easy to operate
  • Suitable for smaller building


Cons of a Conventional System 

  • Not suitable for large buildings or projects
  • Fire / faults are only shown in a zone rather than an exact location
  • Can incur more cabling than an addressable system


Addressable Fire Alarm Systems

An addressable system is made up of a series of detectors and devices which connect to a central control panel. Each device has an address or location, enabling the exact detector that was triggered to be quickly identified. This makes addressable alarm systems ideal for large buildings, particularly commercial premises spread over a wide area. It can be configured and programmed so that a specific action will trigger a specific response meaning things like phased evacuation can be set up in a larger builder depending on where the fire has broken out. All devices can be individually monitored and checked for faults, which makes maintenance easier. If an issue is found with a particular detector a notification will be received by the central control panel.

Loop Configuration

An addressable system utilises a loop configuration containing all the fire alarm devices, which uses less cable compared to a conventional system.

Each device utilises a system-wide protocol. A protocol is a language the fire alarm panel uses to talk to each fire alarm device. The panel allocates each of the devices with its own unique code. This code is known as the device address. When adding a device to the system,  the device’s real-world location is also added into the fire alarm panel.

The fire alarm panel continually communicates with the devices on the system enabling it to identify the exact device or manual call point in an alarm condition. Therefore, reporting a fire’s location, system faults and false alarms can be done in a matter of seconds.


Pros of an Addressable System 

  • It is possible to quickly locate the exact position of the fire / fault
  • Suitable for an size of project
  • More system capabilities
  • Specific actions can be programmed by the user
  • Reduced likelihood of false alarms
  • Lower wiring cost than with a conventional system
  • Ability to monitor the health of the system


Cons of an Addressable System 

  • Commissioning of the system takes longer than with conventional
  • The devices on the system are more expensive


BLE Fire & Security offers a range of both Conventional and Addressable products, meaning we have a solution to meet the individual requirements of each project.

Please contact us to find out more 01246 432325.