In my last blog post, we looked at how Honeywell’s new Smart Wireless Integrated Fire Technology (SWIFT) devices are bringing the reliability and flexibility of wireless technology to the fire alarm market using a wireless mesh network. Today, I want to discuss how such mesh networks stack up against other wireless communication alternatives, namely, point-to-point and point-to-multipoint technologies:
Mesh Technology: Wireless mesh networks allow installers to connect many devices via a network that “blankets” the area—rather than requiring that each device has a direct wireless or wired connection to the termination point.
In a Class A mesh network such as the one used by SWIFT, each smoke detector and monitor module creates its own communication structure. That means communication goes from point A to point B through any number of these devices, creating redundant communication paths. With multiple paths to employ, the system’s reliability is maximized; if one device is lost, the devices will immediately find another path for communication.
Point-to-Point Technology: P2P wireless networks provide a dedicated link between two devices; for example, between two smoke detectors or between a monitor module and the main controlling element of a fire alarm network. P2P technology is highly reliable, but it is also more expensive and more time-intensive to install. Plus, in the event that one device fails, it could affect the entire network.
Point-to-Multipoint: P2MP technology is a bit of a hybrid between mesh and P2P wireless networking. With this type of network, central units connect to multiple “subscriber” units. In order to function, all P2MP networks require that all subscriber units be in range of the central unit. If they are not, additional central repeater units are required. For many installations, this makes P2MP networks impractical—or downright impossible. In addition, the failure of a central unit or repeater could mean failure for multiple subscriber units.
Unlike P2P or P2MP technology, Honeywell’s SWIFT devices feature bi-directional communication for reliable data transmission. We call it a “parent-child” relationship: Every child device has at least two parents to send information through, and every child device may also be a parent to other child devices. That way, inbound and outbound communication can use various paths through the parent and child devices, ensuring that every message is received.
The SWIFT Class A mesh network gives installers the flexibility to extend a fire alarm system quickly and easily. It also benefits the end user by keeping costs low—while providing self-healing capabilities and the highest level of reliability and protection they need.
To find out more about the SWIFT line of wireless devices, click here.
About the Author
Andrew Berezowski is an ACS Engineering Fellow at Honeywell Fire Systems