Elevators + Fire Alarms = Problems (E+F=P)

Elevator noise
Elevator noise created havoc on fire alarms.


01/18/2019…..Finally everything seems to be working…see story below.

11/102018….. More info below.

10/22/2018…. We have more information below.

09/24/2018…. We have a not so final assessment on this elevator problem…see below.

09/14/2018…. We have more information on this elevator problem…see below the last update.

09/05/2018…..Not to spoil the rest of the information below…..but see the final conclusion and results below at the end of this story.

Got a call the other day after a tech in Texas who has been reading my articles on linked in ( Noise on Fire alarms.) His problem isn’t unique in the industry and yet it too was a close encounter of defeat for me. It was resolved yesterday, and today he needs to add a few of my devices to make it right.

When this tech called, his focus was on this potential issue which was on the pairs of wires going to the elevator. His focus was so intense, that there was only one thing on his mind when it came to noise or voltage…….the pair of wires to the elevators.

Set the Stage:

West Texas, sand country, and grounding is difficult (Fact).
DC Elevators replaced with AC Elevators..Hummm
Fire alarm panels years of service not disturbed until the replacements…Hummm
Past history regarding my experience…. UCLA 1992, elevator problems on all known name brand fire alarm panels induced by inductions created by Elevators going up and down + sandy based soil plus I solved the problem.
This tech was so focused on low voltage, that I was having a hard time convincing him that the ground might be the issue. Obviously we had to do it his way….which is not bad because he bought one of each FA 30VB, tighten the voltage let through and the FA30BH to act as a filter to attenuate the signal voltage. That being said, there was an improvement, but not enough. He called me back and I discovered he only put one knot in the low voltage wire, but he did put a knot in both the phase, neutral and ground wire on the PC board. I told him to add four more knots on the low voltage wire…… He called me the next day….and it improved more, but needed more trouble shooting.

Now he is ready to listen…..I told him, all the conduits that are going to the panel, take them off, or separate them from the panel using PVC. No metal contact. Disconnect the ground to the panel on the AC side. Now try each operating each elevator, one at a time to see if you got a disturbance on your panel.

Two hours late….he called me after his first elevator run….tells me…no problem. Fifteen minutes later, called me after the second elevator was operating….no problem.

Problem Identified like it should have been in the beginning. However his investment in my survival fund was well placed. So what does he really need now and yes, he does need the low voltage protectors because they did some good. LS-E120HWCP20CB and the Spike Block-2.

Here is a diagram to help you install this concept.
I will explain why. Back in 1994, at the second show I did at NFPA in LA, I was arcing 18 to 20,000 volts into a live Firelite panel….with all my protection on there and not a peep, not a sound of false alarm. My competition, not there, but Transdector was there and they looked like buzzards were flying around their heads as I sat there with enormous amount of techs and engineers circling my table. I even had the inventor of the 2020 panel inviting me to their Notifier table to do the same test on their panel (((naked))). Yoggi Shaw on the other hand thought it was a bad idea….(He was right…that is another story). Anyway some Maintenance people from UCLA walked by my table and stopped for the longest time…looked like someone on the throne, thinking but they were standing up looking at my demo. So I motioned one of the guys over, handed him my 30000 volt isolated wire, and he proceeded to arc 18-20,000 volts into the same panel. I love it when they do it for the first time. Quite shocking! Ok, that was it, and there were no further questions from them and they left my area of operation.

Two weeks back at the farm…I am fielding phone calls from the event, one call came in from UCLA. We didn’t have caller ID back then so…that caught me off guard, at first they sounded like real fire techs as usual. I could hear some things in their voices that challenged me as to them being the end-users of the panels, as to how they spoke not like a real fire alarm dealers. Immediately I went into end-user pricing mode. They asked for a price on the original 120HWCP20CB, and cried when I gave it too them. They cried like a spanked baby new born. So they bought one unit, and I thought nothing of it.

Two weeks later, there they were again on my phone…..UCLA. The best minds in the world and they could not figure out the solution to the problem, and they were talking to me at E/Clips…a mire electronic tech at the time, kind of wet behind the ears with an AA degree that invented the thing. They cried like spanked babies, and you would have thought I took their pacifier way from them…..the price to them was so high, especially since they wanted a 100 of them. I should have asked for an honoree degree. So I asked them what the problem was, and they told me every time the students went up and down the elevators at the dorm, the fire alarm panel went off. They also told me they have every known brand panel out there and nothing worked. I said, your kidding me. To top it off, this protector worked and they wanted to fit all their panels with it. I still didn’t budge on the price, and so went the story. They bought 10 units at a time, over a period of a year. Got them all fixed up and problem solved. One thing for certain, their ground was a sandy based soil….so grounding sucked big time there. Now the design of the original 120HWCP20CB did have a tank circuit in there, but over the years because of UL requirements, we could not have this type of tank circuit in there. However we can build one outside the panel using the Spike Block and the LS-E120HWCP20CB combined will work. After 26 years, I bet those original surge suppressors are still on those panels. Well at least they are not in the lightning Capital of North America.

So that is the answer to this techs needs in Texas. We found the problem; all he needs now is the answer. So if this story sounds all to familiar too yours….I will look for your call too. 727-823-6100 x 1

9/05/2018…Final conclusion and results:
Mind you, the low voltage suppressors I recommended did attenuate the static voltage quite a bit, however the final result is the LS-E120HWCP20CB and the Spike Block-2 was installed over the weekend. Today they tested the elevators, and ran them all the way up to the top and down again….not a peep out of the panel. Now the Owner of the Security Company I talked too is real pleased with this and this is what I told him. “This is what you live for, able to trouble shoot something like this and successfully solve the problem.” Nine out of ten security companies would have walked away from this problem and because Honeywell referred you to me…you were able to solve the problem. Think about this, Honeywell deserves a high five for this, without the forgone knowledge that I existed; the end-user would have not had a solution no matter how many companies tried to figure this out. This is what I do when it comes to power quality, noise suppression, surge suppression and lightning protection. I don’t condemn companies in surge suppression, I don’t. This is not their true calling for what I do, however they do fill a need even if it is volume base providing limited technology that is a bit behind the times, the true calling in this industry is trouble shooting troubled panels. Seriously folks, I have been doing this for 30+ years since I first graduated with an AA degree in electronics, through my BS and Masters….you truly have a well-rounded engineer here that can help you. You know you got it right, when you had two identical issues in two states both resolved with the designs old and new I have recommended. I promise you this company will be buying product from me, from here on out. Truthfully———————————– I did sweat a little. God bless you all!

09/14/2018…. We have more information on this elevator problem…see below the last update.
Well, something new always pops up when you least expect it. For the record, everything worked up until I discovered there was a third elevator. The dealer neglected to tell me that there was another elevator that was not commissioned yet. I also learned a few other things as well. It appears that more information was left out. One issue that was resolved was about $10,000.00 worth of labor and ground wire to bond the elevators that they were having issues with naturally improved things. They bonded the AC power and elevator Grounds, to the building ground.

Now this third elevator, that is call the North Elevator is much closer to the fire alarm, and as soon as they got it on line, the same false alarms re-occurred on the fire alarm panel. Not like it was before. Fact is, running the elevator by itself, there were no issue with the fire alarm panel, but running the elevator with the other elevators working, apparently there is more issues. What I also learned was that the North Elevator also needs work on it’s grounding system as well. However, with the insistence by the owner of the building, he wants three more LS-E120HWCP20CB and Spike Block on the power to see if it will work…. It can not hurt, but at the same time, we are so close in solving this problem, it is a matter of pushing it a bit further I think. I also suggested to add two more knots in the Phase Neutral and Ground wire prior to the panel and in-between the surge suppression that all three units are in series. If this works, this will save the customer at least $10,000 in labor and ground wire of the panel. So I packed up more protection and ground filters to see what will happen. Hopefully this will work…more to come…and I thought we were done..(not!)

This third elevator has proved all but impossible. Everything we have proveded, has reduced the problem significatly, but the reality is, this last elevators grounding system must be bonded back to the AC power Ground just like all these elevators share. I have also suggested panel mount surge suppression on the electrical panel, but the reality is…..to deal with this type of grounding issue, one must have a single point ground or it will not work. There will be some noise based on the soil content and my style of protection will attunate much of it, but as long as there is no single point grounding this will not be enough. Last week, we agreed the customer must do this, and unfortunally the cost of grounding is going to be expensive, but it will work. So, the final word on this is still out.

This third elevator has proved to be impossible to fix. The last thing I could come up with, and so far it seems to work along with my stuff is a couple of capasitors across the line seems to work now…. The noise and everything is there, but so very little……This really proved to be very hard to fix. My only hope is the last and final suggestion is that they install a 208 3Y surge suppression devices on each elevator to mittigate arcing on the three phase. That is the only thing I can think of that would be left undone. Yes this was very painful, but I think we got it.

I was contacted briefly at the end of the day Friday by a Forensic Fire Alarm Engineer from New England which requested all my detail information on the technologies that I sent the dealer in Texas. The first thing he said, it is not the dealers fault, and it was all about grounding. I told him I agree with hm one hundered percent. He said he will get back in touch with me on Monday. He was intreged with my technology and he also has something he wanted to show me next week. I am looking forward to what it is.

It appears everything is working. How I know, last week the tech called me still searching for answers and I told him, we did all we could. The next day he calls back and says, all is well, someone pulled one of the emergency switches and caused the false alarm. At first the end user was so upset, here we go again. Thankfully and regretfully some idiot thought they were going to be funny. So there we have it…..as it seems, almost impossible but it appears it is possible to fix the noisy problem.

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