Fire Alarm and Detection: Zoning Systems

smoke alarmThe smoke and heat detectors installed in homes can be looped together and connected to the control and repeater panels, using any of the two standard zoning systems. Zoning simply means dividing the detectors into several groups or sections, where each group is separate and distinct from another group.

Types of Zoning Systems

1. The Conventional Zoning System
This is used for small to medium-size residential buildings. In the conventional system, each floor is regarded as a zone for buildings having more than one floor. In the event of a fire outbreak, the panels indicate the zone in which the fire is occurring. A major drawback of this system however, is its inability to indicate the exact location of the fire in the zone. It gives a general, rather than a particular location.

2. The Addressable Zoning System
The addressable zoning system is employed mainly for very large estates and high-rise commercial buildings. In this system, the zones or groups are designed and created in such a way that the exact location of the fire can be known. In the event of a fire outbreak, the panels inform the building occupants of the particular detector issuing the alarm and thus, the precise location of the fire can be inferred.

Why The Addressable System is Preferred to the Conventional System?

Cost
Conventional zoning systems have low purchasing costs and very high installation costs. They require more wires and additional labour time during installation. Addressable zoning systems, on the other hand, have higher purchasing costs and very low installation costs. They also have additional features that help in preventing false alarms which are quite costly to the owner of the building.

Ease of Installation
Installation of conventional zoning systems are more difficult, expensive and time consuming, when compared to the addressable zoning system.

Reliability
The addressable zoning system is more reliable than the conventional zoning system. In the addressable system, isolation modules are used to separate detectors in a loop or zone. Thus, if a detector gets disconnected, the other detectors in the loop continue functioning. The proper installation of an addressable panel can lead to the overall reliability of the fire alarm and detection system.

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Complexity
The addressable zoning system is superior to the conventional system in terms of complexity. While the conventional zoning system is pretty simple and executes basic fire alarm and detection functions, the addressable zoning system is more compels and sophisticated, having additional features and functions.

Addressable zoning systems are very flexible and powerful when used properly. However, it is important to note that the choice of zoning system to be used is actually dependent on a lot of factors. The consumer or home owner has to consider the following before deciding on the zoning system to purchase and install: the type and size of the building, the installer, the cost and the budget, the level of security needed, among others. Whatever zoning system chosen must be able to suit the needs of the home and its owner.