Wired or Wireless Fire Alarm System: Which to Choose

Should you choose a wired or wireless fire alarm system? To make answering this question simpler, we have taken a closer look at the pros and cons for each choice.

As a home or business owner, one of your key responsibilities is to protect your property. Whether it is your home or business premises, fire is a huge threat to your property, so having a reliable fire alarm system in place is absolutely crucial. Fire alarm systems act as a first line of defence against fire, providing early detection, alerting occupants to potential danger, and providing the chance to take the safest steps to fight the fire. However, whilst the need for an alarm system is a no brainer, with detection and alarm technology continuing to develop, the choice between a wired or wireless fire alarm system is not easy.

Whether you are choosing fire alarms for a new home or building, or deciding if it’s necessary to upgrade an existing fire alarm system to better improve safety and security, it’s important to understand the key advantages and limitations of both types of fire alarm.

Both wired and wireless fire alarm systems come with their own unique set of features and considerations. While wired systems have been the traditional choice for many years, as wireless technology has taken leaps and bounds, wireless systems have gained popularity as a result of their flexibility and ease of installation. 

To help you to make an informed decision on which system will provide the utmost protection for your home or business and its occupants, let’s take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of each type.

Wired Fire Alarm Systems

Wired fire alarms use a series of wires in order to transmit signals between the control panel and the various elements that make up the fire alarm system, including smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, heat detectors and manual call points. There are two main types of wired system:

  • Conventional fire alarm systems – This kind of alarm system splits a protected building into different zones, so that in the event that the alarm is triggered by fire or smoke, the control panel shows detail of which zone was the originating point. A conventional fire alarm system provides a suitable solution for a smaller property, for example, a residential property or small business premises.
  • Analogue addressable systems – An addressable system provides more detailed information, telling the exact detector that was triggered, helping you to understand exactly where a potential fire originated. As a result, this type of alarm system is more accurate, offering more flexibility and control. Addressable systems are well suited to larger buildings with larger occupancy.

Wired systems were long the preferred choice of fire alarm, and there are a number of benefits for selecting wired fire alarms.

  • Wired systems provide a reliable connection to electrical systems – Wired fire alarms are mains powered. Paired with a backup battery in case of a power outage, wired systems are very reliable.
  • Wired systems are still the most common – Whilst a wireless fire alarm system is an increasingly more common site, wired systems are still more prevalent, so it is often easier and cheaper to source spare parts for maintenance.
  • There is less threat of signal interference – Signals are sent from component to component via cabling, so there is no need to worry about signal interference.

Whilst there are many pros to choosing wired fire alarms, it’s important to also consider the cons.

  • Slower installation – Because fire rated cabling is required and must be installed between the various components in the fire system network, installation can take a longer amount of time.
  • Additional costs of installation – In addition to the need for fire rated cabling, wired systems may also require more work to securely install the cables between the control panel, sensors and call points.

Wireless Fire Alarm System

In contrast with wired systems, a wireless fire alarm system does not require extensive lengths of cabling to transmit signals between the control panel and network of components. The system instead relies on radio frequencies to send information from sensors and call points to the control panel. For larger premises and networks, receivers and transmitters can be installed to ensure a strong signal is maintained throughout the system.

Like wired systems, there are many benefits to choosing wireless fire alarms.

  • Wireless systems are highly flexible – Possibly the biggest benefit of wireless fire alarm systems is that they are highly flexible. In the event that the system needs to be extended or components need to be removed for replacement, relocation or maintenance, this can be done with ease, as there is no cabling to consider.
  • Simple installation – As there is no requirement for long, complicated networks of cables and wiring, the installation process for wireless alarms is relatively simple and can be carried out quite quickly. Devices can be added onto the system with ease if there is a need to extend the system to new areas of a building or site.
  • Wireless technology is reliable – Whilst interrupted connections used to be a worry, wireless alarm technology has now developed to provide the same reliable service as wired systems but without the wires, so home or business owners can feel peace of mind.
  • Wireless systems can be more aesthetically pleasing – Without metres upon metres of cable installation, wireless alarms simply provide a tidier, more eye-pleasing look.

As well as the many benefits of wireless technology for fire alarms, the potential cons should also be considered when making an informed decision.

  • Wireless alarms are not mains powered – Unlike wired alarms, wireless systems are not mains powered, however, with regular checks and maintenance to ensure batteries are functioning, wireless alarms are highly effective.
  • Wireless alarms may cost more on average – Despite the reduced installation costs, as wireless technology is more complicated, average costs of a wireless fire alarm may be higher than a wired system, depending on the property.

Invest in Professional Fire Alarm Systems Installation

If you have considered the benefits of each type of fire alarm system and have made a decision as to whether wireless or wired is best for your property, then it is crucial to turn to a specialist in fire alarm system installation to ensure that all components are installed safely and function properly to provide the intended level of fire protection and security. First Contact Fire & Security are specialist installers of wireless and wired fire alarm systems in Southampton and throughout Hampshire.

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