Fire Detection and Alarm systems are broadly categorized into two styles of system, addressable and conventional. Here we will go over the benefits and drawbacks of both.
Conventional fire panels rely on sensing changes in the condition of a single paired wire along its length, they will only show alarms or fault conditions as existing within a zone, which may be up to 40 detectors or devices.
These types of panels also tend to be more susceptible to false alarms as short circuits or damage to the cable is often indistinguishable to the fire panel from a genuine alarm condition.
Often cheaper installation cost
Simpler wiring system
Less programming required
Often more intuitive to understand for occupants or operators of the premises
Harder to determine the location of alarms
Harder to identify the location of faults
If your building contains certain building elements, like sole occupancy units, you will require "Detector in Room/Space" indicators
Less control over alarm parameters
Addressable fire panels convey data along the wiring loop, each detector will report its obscuration (obscuration is a measure of how much smoke or particulate is in their air, measured in percentage of obscuration of light per metre, at 50% obscuration you would only be able to see half as much light from one metre away), temperature or other data depending on what sort of detector it is.
Addressable fire panels can be programmed to require different obscuration rates or temperature levels to consider it an alarm. This allows you to have more sensitive detection in offices or cleanrooms, but more robust detection that is less susceptible to false alarms in a warehouse section.
Because each detector conveys its specific information back to the fire panel which then determines what state the detector is in this allows you more control over how your fire alarm system functions.
Addressable systems also make finding false alarms, real alarms and faults significantly easier by virtue of each detector or device having its own location listed at the fire panel.
More detailed alarm and fault condition reporting, capable of telling you the exact device, its location and why it is in fault (for example the detector head has been removed, or is dirty)
Is capable of discerning between damage to cables and alarms or device faults
Has a greater variety of interface options for controlling other parts of a building management system
Eliminates the need for "Detector in Room" indicators
Allows detailed control over what an alarm is and various sensitivity settings based on the time of day, occupancy status or location in the building
Generally more expensive installation
More advanced programming required