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07/08/2017 / Graham Lowe

Wired? Or Wireless? That is the Question.

Peterborough Cathedral West Front2

As fire detection technology continues to diversify, specifiers are demanding the most efficient and cost effective solutions for an array of applications. But how do you determine whether wireless is the right technology for the application?

First of all let’s talk about cost. When installing a fire detection system there are two factors to consider; the cost of the equipment and the cost of labour. Wireless sensors and accessories generally demand a higher price, however when you factor in the cost of cable, and the extra time and labour required for a wired system, there might not be much difference. On large scale projects, you might even find that wireless works out more cost effective.

Of course, you also need to consider practicality. With the advantage of ‘plug and play’ and the fact that wireless field device ranges often exceed 100m, wireless systems can provide a flexible and versatile solution for; temporary buildings, remote buildings, retrofits and buildings with complex architecture. Lack of cabling also makes wireless systems the obvious choice for churches, cathedrals, castles and museums, where aesthetics cannot be compromised.

In some instances, it might be necessary to create a hybrid wireless solution whereby wireless devices are interfaced with a wired system via a module. For example, wireless detectors could be installed in a remote school building or a new doctor’s office and interfaced with the existing wired system in the main building; providing the best of both worlds!

 

FIREwave Group Shot (with shadows) Oct 2016

Finally, let’s talk about reliability. In a recent Hochiki survey, 64% of installers said that quality and reliability are the most important factors when selecting a fire detection system. It goes without saying, but first and foremost, you need to ensure you are purchasing equipment from a reputable manufacturer who offer products fully compliant with local regulations. Then, you need to ensure that you select the technology that best suits the environment.

If you are considering using wireless devices for a project, a survey should be carried out to ensure that signal strength and radio frequency disturbances are not going to be a problem. Metal structures, concrete surfaces, electro-magnetic fields (EMF) and even large volumes of people, can affect wireless communication. If the wireless survey does raise some unexpected issues, the use of expanders can improve your signal strengths and distances; but wired devices are a technical equal that are not as susceptible to signal disruption, and may therefore be your best option.

This is not a definitive guide to wireless applications; however we hope it has highlighted some important factors to consider. If you would like to learn more about the hybrid wireless range offered by Hochiki, FIREwave, please use the link below. If you are an existing customer and are interested in our wireless equipment, please talk to your regional sales manager who can arrange for you to receive free of charge specialist training from our Product Support team.

For more information about Hochiki’s FIREwave please click here.

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