Tag Archives: Wireless Smoke Detector

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:

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.

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.

Smoke Alarm versus Smoke Detector

Recently we received a LinkedIn comment about our wireless wirelesssolution, SWIFT™, meeting IBC requirements for Smoke Alarms. This is a great topic to talk about differences in Smoke Alarms and Smoke Detectors and the latest International Building Code (IBC) requirements.

As defined by the IBC, a smoke alarm is “a single- or multiple-station alarm responsive to smoke and not connected to a system”. This is a requirement in one- and two-family dwellings and occupancies designated as Groups R-2, R-3, R-4, and I-1. Smoke alarms are generally not connected to a Fire Alarm Control Panel and they are powered by AC and/or from an integral battery. Examples of a smoke alarm solution would be a 120V and/or a battery-operated smoke detector that is typically used in residential applications and complies with UL 217.

Alternatively, there are smoke detectors that are connected to a Fire Alarm Control Panel via wired and wireless means. The standard that is most common for Fire Alarm Control Panels is UL 864 (Control Units and Accessories for Fire Alarm Systems). UL 864 covers fire alarm control panels, like the MS-9200UDLS, and various products and accessories. The same standard covers the new Fire-Lite SWIFT Wireless gateway and associated products. In addition to UL 864, the standard that covers smoke detectors is UL 268 (Smoke Detectors for Fire Alarm Systems).

As SWIFT Wireless detectors are classified as a smoke detector and are covered under UL 268, SWIFT can also be used in these applications. In fact, IBC 2015 explicitly allows “Smoke detectors listed in accordance with UL 268 and provided as part of the building fire alarm system shall be an acceptable alternative…”*.

We are excited to see many applications and approved uses for SWIFT Wireless!

*IBC 2015 – Section 907.2.11.7


About the Author
Richard Conner is the Director of Marketing for Fire-Lite Alarms, Silent Knight and Honeywell Power. Richard joined Honeywell in 2002 and has over 15 years of experience in the fire alarm industry in Marketing, Engineering, and Product Support positions. Richard is responsible for developing brand strategy and marketing programs for all brands.

Get Started with a Site Survey for SWIFT Wireless!

Fire-Lite Alarms’ SWIFT wireless fire detection system detects fire, just like their wired counterparts, while providing installation flexibility in a wireless format. Before you get started, a site survey is recommended to assess and qualify the site prior to installing a SWIFT wireless fire detection system.

The site survey consists of two tests:
Link Quality Test
A link quality test is a quick and repeatable test that provides immediate feedback on device connectivity. The link quality test sends data from one device to another to test for data loss and measure the signal strength.

RF Scan Test
A Radio Frequency scan test is conducted to assess and measure the background noise and interference from other wireless systems if any, in the site. The RF Scan test can be conducted individually or following the link quality test.

After both tests are completed, the results of the site survey can be also obtained using SWIFT Tools. The information provided by SWIFT Tools is used for site qualification, maximum device spacing identification, and configuring the wireless mesh network. This helps to ensure the reliability and performance of the wireless network in the wireless fire alarm system.

How can you get started?
To do a simple wireless fire detection system site survey, you just need SWIFT wireless smoke detectors. If you would like to see the detailed results of the site survey, you also need the W-USB and SWIFT Tools.

Fire-Lite Alarms is here to help you in your endeavor to protect building occupants. Fire-Lite Alarms has 60 years in the business, is the leader in non-proprietary, and has great tools to help you learn about the products. Visit our website to learn more about the SWIFT wireless fire detection system. Also, view one of our pre-recorded webinars on SWIFT Wireless Tools & Techniques.


About the Author
Bill Brosig is a Channel Product Manager for Fire-Lite Alarms, Silent Knight and Honeywell Power with more than 25 years in the Life Safety business and a NICET IV certification. Bill focuses on the customer experience surrounding current offerings and new product applications.