American Alarms Blog

FireLite 9200UDLS and Notifier NFW2-100

by Adam Jacobs 10/19/2020

There a TON of these panels in use in central Iowa.  Recently a few we service were damaged beyond repair by storms with lightning.  We found out that FireLite's new ES-200X panel can be installed and connect to the same detectors, modules, etc.  However, the boards are a different footprint (doesn't mount in 9200UDLS cabinet) and the program would have to be rebuilt.  So then we have to decide - do we scour the planet for old stock 9200UDLS/NFW2-100 boards and panels, or just buy the current model and take extra time to install and program?  Fortunately we have an extensive network of distributors that we talk to regularly and we were able to find some old stock panels as exact replacements.  

This kind of thing happens once in a while with fire alarm (and other products).  When products become obsolete you have to make a decision and consider the customer's budget as well.  In a world of unlimited funds, the choice is easy.  So for most of our customers, they have to weigh their options carefully and make a wise choice (quickly).

Call us if you have trouble finding obsolete parts.  We have a better stock than anyone in central Iowa of many different brands.

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Lightning and Fire Alarm Systems

by Adam Jacobs 10/19/2020

Thunderstorms, like we had today in central Iowa, wreak havoc on fire alarm systems and other electronics.  What makes fire alarm systems more susceptible than other electronics?  The biggest reason is that it has a HUGE antenna - the Initiating and Notification circuit cables - that attract lightning.  Sometimes these two types of circuits can be over 1000 feet of cable in larger buildings.  The weakest point on the system is the circuit boards in the control panel.  So when a surge is introduced into the system, it can even JUMP right through the circuit board and pop components off when it exits.  Thanks to our great technicians - Mark, Dan, Eric, and David - for handling the slew of service requests that came in today from the storms.  If you have questions about surge protection for your system, one of our partners Ditek has answers.  Below is a link to their Total Surge Solutions website, with lots of great info.  If you need pricing on a solution for your needs, just give us a call.

ditekcorp.com

 

 

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Give your batteries some love, once in a while.

by Adam Jacobs 10/19/2020

Electronic systems usually have backup batteries that take over powering the system when your primary (120VAC) power fails.  This time of year we see it regularly.  When big thunderstorms come through Iowa, the wind and lightning can take out lines, power transformers or even entire substations.  Fire alarm panels are required by code to have enough battery power to run the system in standby for 24 hours and then provide 5 minutes of alarm after that.  If you are having your fire alarm system tested every year, your fire alarm company should be testing the batteries and checking their dates every year.  Most rechargeable sealed lead acid batteries (the kind used for alarm systems) will last 3-5 years.  One of the things that can shorten the life of these batteries is HEAT.  If the panel is in a room that is not air conditioned, the batteries may only last a year or less.  See the picture attached for an example of batteries that got over-heated.  Now these happened to be over-charged by a charger that had been damaged by lightning.  But when batteries are overheated, either by their charger or by the environment, they will gradually bulge and may even burst.  This is because the gel inside the batteries produces gases when overheated that can't get out fast enough.  

Since it's fire prevention month, it's a great time check your fire alarm batteries or have a qualified fire alarm company do it for you.

 

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