Wired vs. Wireless Fire Detection

For as long as there have been fire alarm systems, a wired connection has traditionally been the go-to solution. While these wired solutions still dominate the installations, wireless systems are making significant headway in the fire alarm market.

Technology is really going to be the driver here. Right now radio and battery technologies have some limitations, but as technology evolves, solutions will improve. You’re going to see capabilities, performance and battery life increase. Eventually there will be little-to-no wiring needed.

Here are a few things to think about when considering wired or wireless systems:

Wired
Readily accessible applications: Wired is beneficial for new installations where the fire alarm system can be installed as the building is going up. The installer will usually have easy access to pull the wire and can simply run it through the new facility.                                  

High-rises, airports, stadiums: Wired is still the best bet for applications that require emergency communication systems and mass notification, including applications that need speakers for voice alarms. If there are weather alerts or dangerous events, wired systems have been the traditional solution. However, wireless has a bright future for these applications.

Wireless
Retrofit applications: Wireless is valuable when the end user has to replace a system or add on to an existing system. Wireless can make it easy to get a new system up and running without the wiring headaches.

Historic buildings: Wireless does not get in the way of beautiful, visually sensitive architecture. Instead of marring an historic building with fire alarm cables, wireless systems can protect locations where appearance is paramount.

Faster jobs/temporary structures: Wireless gives contractors the opportunity to quickly complete installations. Pulling wires can consume a large portion of time on a job. What’s more, the system can quickly be installed and removed from temporary structures. Materials are not wasted, and the end user does not have to deal with segments of wire that are tough to reuse.

Outdoor applications: Wireless is much more reliable when the system needs to go outside from building to building and the location is prone to lightning strikes or other destructive weather events. Wired systems are more readily damaged in these situations.

Have you seen a rise in the use of wireless fire alarm systems in your area? Are you planning to use a wireless system on an upcoming project? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

 

About the Author
Jesse Otis is a Design Engineer in the Honeywell Fire Safety Americas Wireless Group.  Jesse joined Honeywell in 2003 and has been the lead engineer for the Fire Systems Group for the SWIFT products which launched last October. Jesse holds a B.S. degree in electrical engineering and is working to finish his Masters degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Systems Engineering.

3 thoughts on “Wired vs. Wireless Fire Detection”

  1. Well it totally seems like wireless is the way to go. A little extra maintenance traded for other conveniences. As far as I know most people around here have wireless systems as well. Thanks for posting this! I found it informative.

  2. I think that we may end up going with a wireless fire alarm, since we’re going to be installing them into an already built building. Neither of the usual applications for wired systems you mentioned applies to our situation. I like that they’re easier to install without headache. Thanks for the the great explanation.

  3. Whether your fire detection systems are wireless or not, it’s important to keep up with their maintenance. It’s your responsibility to make sure that they are working properly on a regular basis to ensure that you will be safe in the event of a fire.

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