How can battery faults be avoided?
What is a battery fault?
One of the most common faults when discussing wireless fire alarms is a battery fault.
You may be asking what is a battery fault?
All wireless devices have a power source in the form of a battery, to enable them to communicate with the fire alarm control panel or radio booster. EN54-25 allows a single battery; however, BS839-1:2013, states the device should have a primary and a secondary battery.
In accordance with the wireless systems code EN54-25, the system is designed to monitor the batteries every 15 minutes, and should the voltage level fall below a predetermined level; the device will generate a “battery fault” and must be able to continue supplying a warning for a minimum period of 30 days.
The minimum length of time that a battery should last in accordance with EN54-25, is three years.
However, the detectors on most systems will last for 5 years.
What will reduce the life of a battery?
Most wireless systems have a feature built into the device that will increase the radio signal output should the device lose communication with the fire alarm control panel or booster station, or maybe an obstacle is in the path of the device and the control panel so more power is required to retain the communication. However, if this situation was to remain for a long period of time, the battery life will shorten, due to the consumption of additional power required to retain the signal.
Another scenario that will shorten the battery life is if the system has many false alarms and the Sounders are left ringing for very long periods of time during the false alarms. It is logical to expect if the Sounders are ringing for long periods the battery life will reduce.
How to avoid a battery fault.
First tip, to avoid the devices having to use excessive power to communicate with the control and booster panels, get the system designed by a wireless fire alarm specialist. The specialist will ensure all the devices have maximum communication pathways, and this will ensure that the power required to communicate with the devices is at its minimum.
Second tip, is to make sure the system is serviced and maintained by a wireless fire alarm specialist. The specialist will ensure that any false alarms will be avoided or kept to a minimum. The specialist will also make a note when the batteries were installed and monitor them during the maintenance visits. The batteries are not expensive and are now of the alkaline type that can be purchased off the shelf.
Use a Wireless Fire Alarm Specialist
My advice, get your system designed, installed and maintained by a wireless fire alarm specialist. If you do this, you will avoid or minimize any faults on your wireless fire alarm system.
Battery Technology has improved.
One of the main reasons why the wireless fire alarms have improved greatly is the advancement of battery technology. The battery size, cost and ampere-hour is critical to any small or mobile electronic device. If you can remember the size of the first mobile phone, the size was not really due to the electronics but the size of the battery.
Due to the explosion of electronic mobile devices such as the phone and personal electronic devices, all of these portable electronic devices required smaller and lighter batteries with plenty of ampere hours. For this reason, the battery industry invested a huge amount of research and development, and this has enabled the wireless fire alarm industry to benefit from the results, with smaller batteries that are used in the wireless devices of today.
The advancement has allowed the wireless fire alarm equipment such as detectors and sounders to run for 5 to 7 years off of a set of standard batteries that can be purchased from any local high street store.
What type of battery is being used by the fire alarm manufacturers? Is it Lithium or Alkaline?
Alkaline or Lithium?
Currently, there is a split between the big three in the UK market. Hyfire and EMS are using Alkaline, and Electro Detectors are using Lithium battery packs.
The wireless sector is now moving ahead with dynamic and Mesh technology. This enhanced technology requires additional communication has each device is acting as a radio hub. To achieve this the device will use more power, and the battery load will increase. However, so far, the new technology is coming in and the battery life is still increasing. So all is looking good for the future of wireless fire alarms.