What are Conventional Fire Alarms?

Jul 14, 2022

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We at OHEAP Fire and Security have been in the fire safety industry for over 50 years. Additionally, we understand the importance of a fire safety system when protecting our employees within the premises. Many business owners have limited knowledge of conventional fire alarm systems and it can be confusing knowing which product to purchase. We offer a wide range of conventional fire alarm systems, fire detectors and smoke detectors which can be installed on your premises. Our team will work with you to determine the best system for your business and install it to meet all industry standards.

What are conventional fire alarm systems? We have compiled a range of blogs to aid in your decision-making process. Therefore, without further ado, let’s discuss conventional fire alarms.

What is a Conventional Fire Alarm?

Conventional fire alarm systems are the most common type of fire alarm system in use today. This is because they are simple to install and cheap, but still, provide excellent protection for the building. The components of a conventional fire alarm system include a control panel, which is the brain of the operation. The control panel receives signals from smoke detectors and other sensors located throughout the building. It then activates an alarm to alert people that there has been a fire or some other emergency situation.

  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Reliability
  • Ease of use
  • Ideal for small buildings

Conventional Fire Alarm Wiring

Simply, a conventional fire alarm system is a wired fire alarm system. However, this fire alarm system uses single legs of cable from the main fire alarm panel to each zone. Each leg of cable is noted as either a zone or sounder circuit. Each fire detection device is connected to the conventional fire alarm panel via its own singular wire.

This type of fire alarm system is the most common in smaller premises. It’s often referred to as a “wired” or “wired in” system because all of the components are connected by wires.

Conventional Fire Alarm Zones

Premises must be split into zones to comply with the BS5839 British fire alarm standards. Each zone is considered a physical area for locating fire and some fire alarm panels will only control a single zone, while others may be capable of managing forty-eight zones. An eight-zone conventional fire alarm panel is the typical installation in the UK, any premises that require more than eight zones would benefit from an addressable fire alarm system. This is due to the amount of wiring needed with a conventional fire alarm system. These zones will typically hold multiple detectors and call points. Once one detector in that zone is triggered, all within that zone ONLY will sound.

Conventional Fire Alarm Costs

In addition, constant improvements in technology have allowed suppliers to lower the cost of these systems to the customer or end user. These fire alarm systems are extremely cost-effective and perfect for small-scale buildings. We would not recommend these systems for larger buildings due to the installation process. We have mentioned that the devices in a conventional fire alarm system are typically cheaper than their addressable counterpart, however, the installation cost may this option slightly more expensive. When installing a conventional fire alarm system, you are relying on a lot of cabling. Generally, this means that many holes will need to be drilled in the walls of your premises to feed these cables into your electrical circuit. This will then cost your business more money in wall repairs, painting and electrical engineering.

Conventional Fire Alarm System Negatives

A conventional fire alarm system relies on a central panel to communicate with all of the devices. If a device encounters any issues, it’s very difficult to troubleshoot without a lot of testing. This can be time-consuming, and it can also lead to false alarms if there is no real fire.

  • Expensive installation
  • More cabling than other systems
  • Inability to pinpoint the exact location of the fire
  • Not suitable for large properties

Conventional Fire Alarm Scalability

Sadly, conventional fire alarm systems tend to be harder to scale up and down. Although possible, scaling a conventional system would require an electrical engineer to begin opening holes in the wall again. Once the cables are then exposed, we would need to wire the detectors into the existing system which can also be problematic if the brands aren’t compatible.

Conventional Fire Alarm Troubleshooting

Every fire alarm system will require regular testing and yearly inspections. If a fault is ever to occur in your conventional fire alarm system then locating the issue will be tough. Troubleshooting a conventional fire alarm system can be difficult as the panel will only identify the affected zone. As a business, you could have up to 20 devices in that one zone. This means the electrical engineer would need to test up to 20 devices to locate the exact issue. This is a lot of admin and time to fix what should be a relatively easy job. Addressable fire alarm panels are able to communicate with each device individually, meaning you can locate the exact fire detector in seconds.

Conventional Fire Alarm Wiring Diagram

Conventional Fire Alarm System

Addressable Fire Alarm Wiring Diagram

addressable fire alarm systems

How Does a Conventional Fire Alarm System Work?

As previously mentioned, the conventional system is made using single legs of wiring. Due to the simplicity of this system, there are a few restrictions.

For example, if a fire did occur, then the conventional fire alarm panel would indicate the fault/fire zone as any other system would. However, it would not give a precise location of where this was occurring. Conventional fire alarm systems use manual call points, detectors and other devices to alert people.

Addressable fire alarm systems are capable of identifying exactly where the fire is occurring through the use of digital address labels.

Benefits of a Conventional Fire Alarm System

Conventional systems are very basic in their electronic build and this works especially well for smaller buildings. With their simplistic approach, conventional systems are often much more affordable. In larger buildings this system may fall short just due to the fact there is more cabling required and faults are only shown in zones which could be a large area.

Some of the major benefits of conventional fire alarms include:

Low cost: Conventional fire alarm systems are often much more affordable than other types of systems. This is because they’re very basic in their design and don’t require a lot of additional features to make them work properly. Although they are low in cost initially, please be aware that installation of these systems will cost you quite a bit as it is more difficult to wire these systems.

Simple to use: Conventional fire alarm systems are often one of the easiest types of systems to use. They only require basic maintenance and don’t have any complex features that need to be configured before they can be used.

Ideal for use in small buildings: Conventional fire alarm systems are often the best choice for small buildings that only need a basic level of protection. They can be used in any type of building including homes, offices, schools and other types of structures.

Businesses That Require Conventional Fire Alarms

Conventional fire alarm systems are absolutely ideal for smaller premises. This includes offices, small buildings, warehouses, shops and smaller business applications. A conventional fire alarm system works by dividing your premises into broad zones. The fire alarm panel can identify the zone of the fire, but not the precise location. For this reason, the premises would need to be small enough to establish which one of the detection devices within the zone has been activated. For large premises and buildings, a conventional fire alarm system is not ideal. This is because the larger premises require more advanced technology to monitor fires. This is because the fire alarm panel will not be able to determine which zone of the premises has been affected by the fire.

  • Small offices
  • Small schools
  • Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Individual flats

We have a range of options for large premises and buildings, including wireless smoke detectors and addressable fire alarm systems.

Businesses that are in low-risk environments or that are smaller premises are able to utilise a conventional fire alarm system. If a fire is detected in your business the alarm panel displays the activated heat or smoke detector or manual call point with an LED. Basic information is shown on the panel as to where the alarm has been triggered.
The cheaper price of conventional fire alarms means that these systems are far more ideal than addressable systems for smaller projects such as shops, small offices and small schools.

conventional fire alarm system


Although a conventional system uses separate radial circuits for both detectors and sounders resulting in, more often than not, a higher installation cost than an addressable system, because of their basic electronics, the build cost is less. The cheaper cost to manufacture the equipment makes it less expensive for the buyer. The simplicity of the system makes it a more reliable and less costly option for smaller projects. The price of the detector and sounder units is also significantly less than addressable systems, making them ideal for small projects such as shops and small offices. However, because they are not as sophisticated in their electronics, conventional fire alarms tend to be more prone to false alarms than addressable systems. The system requires a skilled installer to ensure that all wires are correctly connected, as well as a thorough knowledge of the local building regulations.

Apollo 55000-317APO Series 65 Optical Smoke Detector

The Apollo 55000-317APO can be used with many different brands of conventional alarm systems. The Series 65 Optical Smoke Detector senses smoke entering the chamber via a pulsing LED and uses that information to trigger an alarm.

  • Apollo 55000-317APO.
  • Responds well to slow-burning, smouldering fires.
  • Well suited for bedrooms and escape routes.
  • Unaffected by wind or atmospheric pressure.
  • Flashing LED and magnet operated test switch option available.
  • Base supplied separately (please see related products below).

C-Tec C4416 ActiV Optical Smoke Detector

The C-Tec C4416 ActiV Optical Smoke Detector offers outstanding detection performance in a compact design. High-quality smoke detectors with excellent performance at a very affordable price.

  •  Performance at a very competitive price.
  • Manufactured by C-TEC in the UK.
  • Third-party certified to EN54-7 by Intertek.
  • Wide 6-33V DC operating voltage.
  • Two 8mm x 2mm ultra-bright red LED indicating strips offering 360º visibility.
  • Drift compensation functionality ensures detector sensitivity is automatically calibrated to suit prevailing conditions and/or increased contamination levels allowing a greater than 8 year life-span.
  • Compatible with our ActiV C4408D diode, C4408 non-diode and C4408R relay bases (sold separately).


C-Tec CFP702 Conventional Fire Alarms

At a competitive price, the C-TEC CFP702-4 2 zone conventional fire alarm panel is certified to meet current versions of EN54 parts 2 and 4. The 4, 8 and 16 zone versions of the fire alarm control panel are available in flush or surface mountable plastic enclosures.

  • C-TEC CFP702 Range
  • LPCB Certified To The Latest Versions Of EN54 Parts 2 And 42
  • 2, 4 and 8 Zone Circuits
  • 4 Conventional Sounder Circuits
  • Two On-Board Relays (Fire And Fault)
  • Integral 1.5A EN54-4/A2 Compliant Switch Mode PSU
  • ‘Class Change’ And Alert Inputs
  • Low Quiescent Current
  • Multiple Indicators
  • Space For 2 x 12V 3.2Ah SLA Batteries

The system offers a wide range of functions such as selectable time delays, coincidence and non-latching options. The UK’s best selling conventional fire panel.

Gent Xenex 13270-LB Conventional Fire Alarms

The Gent Xenex 13270-LB fire alarm panel provides a conventional solution for businesses providing coverage to eight zones. Xenex is certified to parts 2 and 4 of EN54, so it contains an integrated power supply that can run for up to 72 hours without being connected to a power source.

  • Gent Xenex 13270-LB.
  • Up to 8 conventional detection zones.
  • 8 sounder circuits.
  • 1.5A sounder circuit max load.
  • Conforms to EN54: parts 2 & 4.
  • On-board relay.
  • Fire and fault relay expansion card optional.
  • Easy configuration.
  • Class change input.

With eight alarm sounder circuits, one-man test and commissioning, remote evacuation control and output repeat panel Xenex by Gent is a leader in conventional panel technology. The Xenex by Gent is a fire alarm control panel that can be used in both commercial and industrial applications.

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