American Alarms Blog

Hotel Fire Alarm Upgrade with Zero Downtime

by Adam Jacobs 5/19/2022

I just finished estimating a new wireless fire alarm system for a 66 room hotel, when it hit me.  We'll be able to make this system change with ZERO downtime on the fire alarm system.  In an existing building, with an existing system, the downtime is always a big concern.  Changing over from a hard-wired system, there is no way to do this with a new hard-wired system.  But with our wireless system from CWSI, we can do just that.  If you want an upgrade with no lost room rents, check out the CWSI wireless fire alarm systems.

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Wireless communicators - GSM and CDMA

by Adam Jacobs 5/19/2022

Wireless communicators have been popular in the security market for many years.  In the last few years, with code changes and wider acceptance by AHJs, they have become much more popular with fire alarm customers also.  With more and more of these alarm communicators in the marketplace, it's important to understand what they do and what they don't.  The two formats for digital wireless communicators on the market are GSM and CDMA.

GSM = Global System for Mobile (communications)

CDMA = Code Division Multiple Access

Globally, GSM is the more widely-used standard with about 75% of the market share.  In the US, however, CDMA is the more dominant standard.  Some of the major carriers that use these standards:

GSM - Sprint, AT&T

CDMA - Verizon, US Cellular

We have tested and installed a number of both types of communicators.  We've found that CDMA communicators are the strongest signal with least number of communication failures.  Both technologies are getting better all the time, because of competition in the market and advancements in R&D.  

Some of the attraction for customers are the cost savings and flexibility of installation.  Instead of having two phone line charges and one alarm monitoring fee every month, the customer has just one alarm monitoring fee.  All network charges are handled through the monitoring company.

***NOTE: Not all jursidictions have approved the use of "sole path" wireless communicators.  Some areas may still require some form of backup path - POTS line, internet, or radio communicator.

These communicators are here to stay, and they're a good option for many customers.  Call us to find out more about the wireless options for alarm monitoring.


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Wireless fire alarm can save money and headaches for commercial property managers

by Adam Jacobs 5/19/2022

Imagine if you didn't have to interrupt your tenant's business to add a few fire alarm devices in the space next door.

Imagine if there was never a dispute over whose responsibility the fire alarm is.

Imagine if you could add, move, and re-use devices on your fire alarm easily and quickly.


These dreams are all reality for our customers that use our commercial wireless fire alarm systems.  All smoke detectors, sprinkler monitoring, pull stations, heat detectors, and even most of the notification devices are wireless.  

In most tenant remodels, with wired devices, the owner/manager has no choice but to buy new devices and pay for them to wired.  Often this process results in new wiring running through another tenant space to get power or signal from the main control panel.  This is NOT the case with wireless.

With wireless fire alarm there is:

No new wiring through occupied tenant spaces.

Up to 2048 device addresses available per panel.

Easy relocation and even re-use of devices, if needed.

No "rats nest" of wires left above the ceiling after multiple remodels.


If you manage multi-tenant commercial properties, call us today to see how wireless fire alarm can benefit you and your properties.



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Saving Copper with Wireless Fire Alarm

by Adam Jacobs 5/19/2022

When comparing fire alarm systems, we consider lots of different aspects.  But have you ever considered what just the copper wire of the SLC (data) circuit costs?  In a system with 1000 initiating devices, at an average of 20 feet per device, the 18/2 FPL cable total is 20,000 feet.  The cost of that cable is approximately $85.00/thousand feet, at a wholesale level.  So just in the SLC wiring, a wireless system could save $1700.  Not to mention the countless hours it takes to pull in all that cable.  On the sustainability front, we would also save over 100 pounds of wire that will eventually be replaced with wireless anyway!

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Do wireless fire alarm systems really work?

by Adam Jacobs 5/19/2022

Wireless alarm systems have been around for over 30 years.  CWSI is the leader in commercial wireless fire alarm systems, for a number of reasons - wider acceptance, reliability, and experience.  They have been developing their low-frequency wide spectrum RF technology for over 30 years.  In some projects, wireless makes the most sense because it saves labor and can go where wires can't.  Attached is an article from fire protection engineer Lynn Nielson, PE.  This article demystifies many of the confusing aspects of wireless fire alarms.

cp-engineer-article.pdf (617.17 kb)

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July Sale on Wireless Fire Alarm

by Adam Jacobs 5/19/2022

CWSI, who makes the most reliable wireless fire alarm systems anywhere, announced a sale on all initiating devices.  This includes pull stations, smoke detectors (with or without sounder), heat detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors.  These are not old models or used devices, all devices are current model and brand new in the box.  Because of this sale, American Alarms is offering 15% - 30% off your new wireless system (depending on exact design).  This is ONLY for the month of July.  If you're close to a decision on your new wireless system, and you can get us your order by July 31st, you can save up to 30% off the total.

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Pull station without wires

by Adam Jacobs 5/19/2022

Most people who have heard a fire alarm activate, knows what a pull station is.  But did you know that you can have this safety feature without wires?  So even in areas where wiring is a challenge, or you're preserving a historic building, you can have pull stations to indicate a fire so occupants can evacuate.  CWSI by Johnson Controls makes wireless pull stations, smoke detectors, heat detectors, fire transmitters, and CO detectors that can allow fire detection and alarm in challenging places.   


Photo by Jared Reese

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Commercial Wireless Fire Alarm - the pros and cons

by Adam Jacobs 5/19/2022

Wireless fire alarm in a commercial building has had a rocky history.  There were lots of trial and error improvements made, however.  The remaining products are as reliable as wired ones, with all factors considered.


Pros of wireless fire alarm devices:

Allows for more flexibility

No wires (except AC power), little wiring labor, no wiremold/conduit

Little chance of ground faults (one of the most common and annoying problems with wired systems)

Little chance of lightning damage (especially if you protect the AC circuit and eliminate the phone lines)

Easily changed (like in multi-tenant buildings where spaces/configurations change often)

Fast installation compared to wired system

Power/battery consumption has improved greatly over the last few years


Cons of wireless systems:

Batteries still only last 2-3 years (typically 3V Lithium CR123A type)

Device cost is 2 or more times that of wired devices 

Programming and setup takes longer (but much of this can be done before bringing parts to installation site)

Not every configuration/requirement can be done wireless

Large systems (over 50 devices) become more difficult to do wireless, but are possible


After weighing all the factors of your project, be sure you consider wireless fire alarm.  Especially if the project is multi-tenant where the overall system design could change every few months, wireless allows flexibility and lower remodel costs.  


*NOTE: Not all local AHJs will approve wireless fire alarms, even though they are acceptable in NFPA.  Be sure you check with your local AHJ before getting too serious about wireless fire alarm.


I believe everyone's goal in our industry is to protect as many people as well as we can.  Wireless fire alarm presents some interesting opportunities for challenging design projects.



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HUGE cost savings when you consider wireless.

by Adam Jacobs 5/19/2022

Most of our customers have never considered a wireless fire alarm system.  And until a few months ago, they didn't really have a choice.  But last April, American Alarms became the sole designer/dealer of CWSI systems in Iowa.  We are EXTREMELY excited to partner with CWSI for these reasons...

- CWSI products are 100% made in the USA

- Their products have been put through the RINGER by UL, much more than wired systems.

- They have been perfecting wireless fire alarm systems since 1979.

- They ONLY make wireless fire alarm systems, so they're GOOD at it.


Attached is a cost analysis of a typical apartment complex (or any other multiple-building project).  A wired fire alarm system in a 36-plex apartment building with sounder bases and interior corridors can cost $50,000 or more with labor.  The CWSI system may only be HALF that, depending on total number of devices.  WHY?  Because it takes a LOT of time to plan all the cable routes, pull cable to every room, to wire bases, to wire the panel, etc.


BUT, on top of that, there's ALSO a huge recurring savings on telephone lines, monitoring accounts, service to wiring and ground faults, lightning problems, and on and on.  Download the PDF attached here, to get an idea of how much you can save on a multi-building project.  Then call us!


Savings on Monitoring with CWSI.pdf (119.28 kb)

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Flexible cloud access control - manage from anywhere

by Adam Jacobs 5/19/2022

What if you could delete a user from your access control system, with a touch on your smart phone?

What if you could let the furnace repair tech into the building, without being there?

What if you could add access control where there's not a hard internet connection?

What you had the flexibility of adding access control on doors where wires can't go? can have all this and more.  Cellular communication for buildings that weren't planned with internet, or as backup to a hard connection.  Wireless reader/locks for doors that are spread out or wires don't make sense.  Mobile pass credentials (electronic key on phone), when physical keys don't make sense.

Our cloud access systems can handle 2 doors to 200 doors.

Multi-building accounts and multi-site accounts are easily managed in the cloud software.

Unlimited users, with unique permissions for each.

The best cyber security in the industry, from the leader in cloud-based security.

Change older local systems to cloud-based systems without replacing all equipment and wiring.


Call us today for a site survey and estimate.


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