2 Krew Security and Surveillance Logo




Conventional Vs Addressable Fire Alarm System: What You Need To Know

conventional vs addressable fire alarm system: what you need to know - 2 krew security and surveillance

Fire alarm systems have seen a great deal of innovation in the last decade alone. We’ve come a long way from just smoke detectors and sprinklers. The newer fire alarms are equipped with computerized detection systems that can communicate with each other and pinpoint fires in the early stages. 

Pennsylvania is no stranger to fire danger. In fact, the state leads the nation in home fire deaths. Whether you’re securing a residential or commercial property, you cannot take any risks. Generally, you have two options to choose from when it comes to protection: 

  • Addressable fire alarm system
  • Conventional fire alarm system

There are many differences between these types of fire alarm systems. In this post, we’ll explain the characteristics of each – and help you choose the best one to suit your needs. Let’s dive into it. 

What is an Addressable Fire Alarm System?

An addressable fire alarm system is interconnected through a centralized computer. This system is ideal for large spaces or campuses. Addressable systems are made up of individual unique identifiers to immediately pinpoint the location of the fire. 

All devices in the system communicate with a central control panel using precise data monitoring – allowing personnel and authorities to “address” where the alarm was triggered and take proper action. 

Benefits of an Addressable Fire Alarm System

  • Precise accuracy of where fires start and where they might be spreading. 
  • Reduces false alarms. 
  • Users can program specific actions after the alarm is triggered to reduce bottlenecks –  including delayed evacuations from non-threatened areas. 
  • Components can be consistently monitored to ensure functionality. 

Drawbacks of Addressable Fire Alarm Systems

  • Costly. 
  • Issues with compatibility with different brands. 
  • Setup of the computerized system can be complicated (especially in larger applications)  – requires an expert. 

To determine if an addressable fire alarm system is right for you, speak to a professional to examine your needs. 

What is a Conventional Fire Alarm System

A conventional fire alarm system is ideal for smaller facilities – like an office building, restaurant, or even a home. The system and its parts are all wired to the same cable, which then connects to the control panel 

A conventional fire alarm system will sense fire, but will not be able to provide much information or data on it, like an addressable system.

Benefits of a Conventional Fire Alarm System

  • The cheaper option compared to an addressable fire alarm system
  • Requires significantly less programming from a professional.
  • Does not require an internet connection. 
  • Works best in spaces where it would be easy to determine the location of the fire after the alarm sounds. 

Drawbacks of Conventional Fire Alarm Systems 

  • Requires more wiring – higher installation costs.
  • Harder to pinpoint which device triggered the alarm. 
  • Does not provide data on the event history. 

A conventional system is best when there aren’t many areas to cover. Speak to a professional fire alarm system expert to determine if this option is best for you. 

What is the Difference Between Conventional and Addressable Fire Alarm Systems?

The fundamental construction of these types of fire alarm systems is vastly different. We’re going to examine the nuts and bolts of how these systems work. 

System Wiring 

First and foremost, the main difference between these types of fire alarm systems is the wiring. Conventional fire alarm systems operate on circuits. This means the devices serve specific zones only. In terms of installation, there must be a separate wire for each device. 

Addressable fire alarm systems operate using a central control panel. The control panel can communicate with each device via a communication circuit, meaning there is only one wire needed to connect all the system’s components. This simplifies the installation process

Location Detection 

In a conventional fire alarm system, there will be one or more devices set to a zone (which are numbered), based on the circuit wiring. If an alarm is triggered, there will be an alert as to which zone is affected. In other words, you’ll know the general area where the fire is, but not the exact location – as it could be near any one of the devices in the zone. 

An addressable fire alarm system will alert you to the precise location of the fire. You may set an address for each of the field devices – which is typically a three-digit number. When the alarm is triggered, the control panel will tell you exactly which device is affected, giving you the exact location of the fire. 


Conventional fire alarm systems are less expensive to purchase. However, they tend to be more expensive and complicated to install, due to more extensive wiring requirements. 

Addressable fire alarm systems are much more advanced and typically have more components – but do not have complicated wiring needs, making the installation process easier. That said, the initial purchasing costs will be more expensive, but installation may be cheaper depending on the area. 

To sum it up, addressable fire alarm systems are generally more cost effective in the long run. 


Addressable fire alarm systems are more technically advanced and provide more accurate reporting. On a baseline level, these systems work to reduce/eliminate false alarms, provide in-depth data on incidents, and most importantly, provide real-time status reports for each device. In a conventional fire alarm system, you may not know a device is malfunctioning until it fails to alert you of an emergency. 

 This is not to say conventional systems are not effective. They may actually be much more practical in certain situations than addressable systems. 

Choosing the Right Fire Alarm System 

To reiterate, choosing the right type of fire alarm system comes down to the application. Conventional fire alarm systems are typically used in smaller, less expansive areas – like a small office, school, restaurant, and so on. 

Addressable fire alarm systems are generally seen as the safer option, due to their smart capabilities and precise location detection. However, an addressable system may not be necessary for a smaller space. They are typically used in large, sprawling complexes. 

If you’re unsure about the types of fire alarm systems – and which one will fit your needs – get in touch with our team at 2 Krew. 

Have Questions?

Choosing a fire alarm system is a big decision – both for the safety of you/others on the property and your pocketbook. Both types of fire alarm systems have many advantages and disadvantages. Knowing which is right for you may not be crystal clear. 

At 2 Krew Security and Surveillance, we provide guidance and fire alarm system installation in Pittsburgh and the Tri-State area. For any questions, concerns, or inquiries, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our knowledgeable team is here to point you in the right direction. 

Call 724-543-0274, send an email to hello@2krew.com, or send us a message online.




2 Krew Security and Surveillance

Providing Customize Security solutions in the Greater Pittsburgh region for over 15 years.


A Message from
Brian Kozlosky


2 Krew Security is dedicated to keeping our customers and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our office is open during regular business hours to assist with any needs.

Technicians are required to wear face coverings, carry hand sanitizer, and increase handwashing practices during installs.

Please contact our office with any concerns or additional requests surrounding the steps we are taking to keep everyone safe.

~ Brian Kozlosky

Free Quote


Services Interested In: