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#50975 04/18/05 12:30 AM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 132
Has anybody here put a smaller commercial (low voltage) fire alarm system in a home? I have a frequent customer who bought an older house that only has 3 somke detectors, the house should have about 10 (it's big). He has 6 kids to worry about and would like to have a fire alarm system that dials out and can display the triggering device. May also want a duct mounted detector as well. Obviously, this is going to take a little more than a FireX set of interconnected smokes. I have only done a little FA work, and I'm not hip to what's current. Anybody have any good sources of info on these systems? How would you do it? What comapnies should I look at for products? I would like detectors and alarms that are more "residential" looking, ie no giant red strobes that say FIRE on them!

Thanks for any ideas,

Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 582
Ron Offline
Ademco has several small panels. I have an Ademco Vista50P in my own home.

Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 840
I think any commercial fire alarm panel could be adapted for residential use.

If you are looking for an addressable system, it will cost substatially more, however. The "cheapest" panel will be $600 and the smoke detectors will cost $50 a piece.

Most notification appliances can be ordered in white. I do not see them in my area because they are not allowed by code, but I know they are manufactured.

Some manufacturers to consider:

Firelite/Notifier (one and the same)
Silent Knight


Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 642
Depending on size of the house you may be able to put some smokes on a security panel. There are a number of security panel tha have a power output for smokes and you can program a zone or two for fire alarm purposes.
Have done in several houses. It makes for a less expensive security/fire alarm install than having to use seperatr panels and route phone wire and power thru two panels.

Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 228
An Ademco panel would be the way to go, they also give you the option of having wireless addressable smokes on most panels, which will save a bunch of labor if it is a large house. If one goes off the keypad can display what head went off with a description. The wireless is also supervised so if one head drops offline for whatever reason the panel will go into trouble, it will also provide a low battery warning at the keypad. The only down side is that batteries only seem to go dead between 1 and 3 in the morning...

Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 132
How is an addressable system wired? Just daisy chain between each device detector? Are the horns or strobes addressable, or do they just all go on 1 or 2 "horn circuits"? Is there a required wire/cable for this, or can you use thhn in emt?

In a conventional panel, I assume that if you want each smoke on an individual zone, you have to homerun it to the panel. Since he would like to try to do most of the system in conduit, i think this would make me use a much larger pipe than an addressable system.

Any good how to websites like this one for the fire alarm trade?

Thank you for all the suggestions!

Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 228
On an adressable system you typically run a 2 conductor fire wire, it is printed on the jacket FPLP. The data and power are on the same cable. If the panel does not have a two wire smoke zone you would need a four conductor, one pair for power the other to provide closure to the zone. You can also run thhn in emt and that is acceptable here in NJ, I don't see why it wouldn't be anywhere else. Your horn/strobes are normally run parallel with each other with end of the line supervision to make sure your nac is intact. If you go with a combination burg/fire panel all the signaling is done from one output but most of them can produce a different tone depending on what tripped the panel, eg solid tone for burg and pulsing for fire.

Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 886
... would like to have a fire alarm system that dials out and can display the triggering device.

Mike, many states require the installer of security and fire systems to be licensed so I would check to see if you are allowed to do this work. Second, even if you can install it your customer will need central station monitoring. Monitoring companies are not going to want to talk to you unless you do this work regularly and give them business regularly. Third is the liability issue. Security and fire system work will usually cost you more for insurance coverage, chack with your agent.

If I were you I would pass on this and refer it to a security company.


Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 335
Just a word of caution. Installing generic smokes is no prob but installing a full blown (yet small) FA system opens a whole bucket of (liability) worms. If you're not licensed as a FA installer you would do well to check with your liability carrier to see if you're covered. My business insurance is thru Safeco and there is a clause that specifically says "no Burglar alarm or Fire Alarm installation".
Having said that ... think about wireless. Ademco, Inovonics ITI and a few more all make wireless systems that work well. The only hardwires you need are the horns and pulls, the smokes are wireless (and I heard, but haven't yet used, that there are wireless pull stations).

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