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The question that is always asked of me, why doesn’t parallel surge suppression work inside fire alarm panels?

It started in 1980, the introduction of substrates as we know it called surface mount technology. Very tiny, low capacitance technology that by all accounts cannot withstand static discharges. However this technology can be molded to replace many high capacitor based technology such as transistors, diodes and resisters. They are so tiny that a chip can be made, where as a PC board back in he day would take up a room. Technology has evolved, but lay-mans understanding and respect for this technology is lagging behind. The machine in all industry is run by bean counters and business men with very little engineering skills or technical knowledge so that is why the respect for any technology still remains an all time low. 1992, ADA required that Fire alarms batteries must run longer, and the current designed of fire alarms did not make that possible. However SMT technology now makes it possible.

The CCTV industry already have adopted SMT technology so it proved that it could be done, so the fire alarm industry followed suite. At that time the owner of FCI refused to change out it’s linear power supply because the testing on that , his power supply could withstand 6000V @ 500 amps, and only one other company could do that and that was Caddi Caddex. After Honeywell and GE bought them out that too soon change. Not just them but the entire industry overnight, got rid of the linear power supplies and went to switch mode power supplies which are a diode array design. It saved a lot of power but the sacrifice was or is too great. For lightning, that was extremely transparent and nothing could stop it now. The fact is a 500 pf switch mode power supply would blowout before the 1200 pf parallel AC surge suppressor even came on. An engineer knows that the capacitance of a diode is far less than a transformer. But remember lay people have no clue and extremely upset.

The question still remains, why do parallel protection not work on fire alarms.? Back to SMT technology. When they shrunk the PC boards, so did the capacitance rating of the boards, and that 3 watt back to back diode was no match for ground faults on case ground. So early on, that is the main reason why false alarms were so prevalent in 1993 to the present day. That in itself is an entirely new rabbit trail of a story that developed Fire Marshals handing out $50.00 tickets and other newly generated ordnances to deal with false alarm epidemic. When you install a parallel surge suppression inside a fire alarm panel, generally you pick case ground for termination. If and when a unit works, you can have minimum of 1200 watts of power injecting directly in to a 3 watt diode monitoring the ground fault circuit. Expect tickets and sometimes, loss of panel.

It doesn’t take a math wizard to figure this one out. However this practice has been going on for…like for ever. The funny thing is, putting surge suppression inside a fire alarm panel (null and voids) the UL of a panel according to UL864. Remember I said something about Linear power supplies, well it was the last hope for parallel AC surge suppression until the introduction of switch mode power supplies. Linear power supplies actually isolated the phase and natural with a 1” gap between coils and represented a high impedance. However a feed back loop up case ground was still a threat. The Linear power supplies did do one thing, insure that any lightning issues through phase and natural would rarely make it past the AC power which obviously saved the panel 2/3rds of the time.

Looking at everything I have written here, a new kind of technology needs to be introduce to the market that will create an alternated path way for lightning to bi-pass the systems especially when NEC code 250.94 is completely ignored usually by the initial design lay out by means of customary designs practiced for the past 30 years or more. You know, what they did 30 plus years ago worked for old technology, but not for new technology as we see it today. That is why……Parallel surge suppression do not work and never will in the future for fire alarm panels. Just because UL says it is UL listed doesn’t mean it will work on fire alarms.

Our attempt to put some muscle back into your panel without sacrificing performance of your fire alarm panel will cost more.

All UL 497 a & b surge suppression even if not tested on fire alarm panels are designed to be used on fire alarm panels so say UL and their test documents. So even if we are not mentioned in any documentation generated by 26 fire alarm manufactures here in the USA, ours at least do not violate UL864 and comply with the right to be installed in all fire alarm systems. Bare in mind, much that is recommended by manufactures, even they can never get it right because obviously they do not make lightning and surge suppression for fire alarms it is a science. That is why most fire alarm tech support departments always recommend us.

We usually get the worst cases since 1992, and even from time to time consult with their own engineers on staff, regarding capacitance issues on SMT technology. We have increased our site surveys from once a year if possible in 1992 to an average of 20 to 30 times a year. That in itself tells you a lot, what seems to be impossible to fix, but we can figure it out. This is our un-comparable specialty.

PTS/World Energy/Eclips, E/Clips, Space Age and other names associated to E/Clips logo no longer exists, nor any of these similar products are supported since 2009. We are aware of a Space Age Technology in MA that have adopted name of EClips logo and sell green surge suppression. But that technology is not who we support nor provide the engineering support. We have 30 years experience trouble shoot fire alarm panels for lightning protection, surge suppression or power quality specifically for our design. I do not recommend Space Age E/Clips technology for fire alarm panels because in most cases it violates UL864 utilizing DinRail and parallel application inside a fire alarm panel like all the other competitors. However if you are competing with ADI represented lack luster products, than at least they are a better alternative so I didn’t completely throw them under the bus.

We also sell the Green E/Clips products with reservation based on request. These facts are indisputable because I should know. I used to work for PTS and invented the first concept of in-series design for fire alarms even before ADI represented surge suppression products. Mr. John O’Brian (RIP), Design Engineering for PTS, I give a lot of credit for taking my ideas through UL and helping me make this style of technology as the only product in the industry that actually works for fire alarms. I loved the way he said it when I present him with a new idea, “I don’t think it will work” but he does it anyway. What a success it was. Today, I take it one step further. With the help of Ken Fleetwood and friends we have invented an even better product which prevents reverse polarity…and we are the only one this time that actually that figured it out.

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Stormin Protection Products Inc.
889 NE Co Rd 225
Lawtey, FL 32058
Toll Free: 888-471-1038
Phone: 727-823-6100  After hours Cell Call: 727-481-6210
Fax: 727-823-6044