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Help using existing wired system with Elk M1

RAL

Senior Member
urbanscribe said:
so
 
i confirmed that there are more than 4 wires.  not sure why i assumed only 4.  thanks
 
FIRE DETECTORS
 
as far as i can figure out here is how the 6 FDs are hooked up to the current DSC panel
 
diagram (sorry for simplicity)
https://www.dropbox.com/s/s62olepgm7pnucl/fire%20detector%20wiring.pdf?dl=0
 
1) why would they have wired it this way?
 
2) earlier it was mentioned this was dangerous.  why?
 
3) if i wanted to connect these 6 4-wire FD to the ELK M1 - each to a separate zone not Z16, could I?
should I?
and if i should not why is that?
 
4) if i replace all 4 of them should i use 2 wires 
how do you all feel about the i3 2WT-B?
any others you recommend if i have to replace all 6 of them for them to work with ELK?
 
5) the wiring in the JB is quite RIDGID
any idea what kind of wire that is?  it only bends with force and can be shaped.
any idea why it was used?
 
pics of the wiring
https://www.dropbox.com/s/0cbyxmhqw7xqdzg/IMG_8080.JPG?dl=0
 
1. They may have wired it this way because by connecting the detectors to individual zones, it makes it easy to tell which one triggered an alarm and to be able to see the zone name/number on the keypad.  But that's only helpful for false alarms.  In a real fire, you want to get out as fast as possible, not waste time with the keypad.  Properly installed, smoke detectors shouldn't produce many false alarms, and when they do, the detector that triggered the alarm should latch the condition so you can walk through the house and see which one triggered, before resetting them.
 
2. It's not dangerous to have the detectors wired to individual zones (though there are other reasons you may not want to).  What is dangerous is that the EOL resistors are at the panel, and not and the end of the line, at the detectors.  Also, since the existing detectors are 4-wire detectors, each one should have a power supervision relay installed at the detector end.  If there is a loss of power to the detector for any reason, the relay will trigger an alarm.
 
3. You could connect the 6 smoke detectors to individual zones on the Elk.  It gets very complicated when you want to reset the system after a fire alarm.  DEL provided a good explanation in this thread:
 
http://cocoontech.com/forums/topic/26263-zone-planning/page-2#entry211306
 
4. If you want to re-use the existing wiring, then you should replace the detectors with 2-wire detectors, so you can use the 4-wire cables to construct a proper daisy chain of the smokes.
 
The i3 2WT-B is a good smoke detector.  You might also want to consider the i4 COSMO-2W, which includes a carbon monoxide detector.  But it doesn't have a thermal heat detector like the 2WT-B.   In most rooms, you probably don't need the heat detector.   The i4 series is compatible with the i3 series, so you can have a mix of the two models.
 
5. The smoke detector cables look like they are 18 gauge, which they should be.  It's stiffer wire than the 22 gauge used for door and window contacts.
 
so 
 
1) should i put 2WT-B in kitchen and  i4 COSMO-2W in most of the living areas?  does that make sense
 
2) i'm surprised to hear that it's best to bunch all the FD into one zone rather than to individual zones.  i get the point that you want to get out rather than know which zone the fire is starting in, but a) if we add carbon monoxide which is invisible, isn't it useful to know which part of the house is being flagged? and b) resetting the FD zone if there is no fire does not feel like much of a burden if there is no fire ;)
 
3) any concerns about mixing WIRELESS FDs and wired FDs?
 

RAL

Senior Member
urbanscribe said:
so 
 
1) should i put 2WT-B in kitchen and  i4 COSMO-2W in most of the living areas?  does that make sense
 
2) i'm surprised to hear that it's best to bunch all the FD into one zone rather than to individual zones.  i get the point that you want to get out rather than know which zone the fire is starting in, but a) if we add carbon monoxide which is invisible, isn't it useful to know which part of the house is being flagged? and B) resetting the FD zone if there is no fire does not feel like much of a burden if there is no fire ;)
 
3) any concerns about mixing WIRELESS FDs and wired FDs?
 
1) It's normally not recommended to put smoke detectors in kitchens, as they are prone to false alarms from regular cooking activity.  If there is a smoke detector there now, you'd probably be better off with a plain heat detector.
 
Smoke/CO detectors in the rest of the living areas are a good idea in my opinion, especially if you have gas or oil heat/hot water or fireplaces.
 
2a) The i3 and i4 detectors have LEDs that indicate which one triggered an alarm.  The i4s have a second LED to indicate a CO trigger.  So to figure out which one set off the alarm, all you have to do is walk around and look at them.
 
3) I can't answer this one.  DEL might have some thoughts on this.
 
1. DSC panel installers didn't understand fire alarm and how to wire for supervision.
 
2. You have no power supervision on the 4 wire detectors, so you could have wiring issues or non-functional detectors and you would never know. Negates any supervision. Also appears they wired the EOLR in parallel with the protective circuit, which would also negate any supervision. The terminal that has all the conductors lugged together is also a big no-no. Power can be tapped, but circuits are a no go.
 
3. Not recommended. You would need to add a power supervision relay to each detector, at the detector, and then do partial rewiring to make it compliant. Far easier to correct using 2 wire detectors and the cable/conductors you already have. Multiple 4 wire zones would not be recommended for a bunch of reasons, the largest issue is what happens to the other zones upon a fire reset sequence.
 
4. Elk and 2 wire and UL listed devices is a sticking point. There's ways around it, but here is where Elk dropped the ball and they haven't kept up with the UL listing and detectors. Honestly, the simple way around this would be to use a System Sensor COSMO module, related I3 and I4 detectors and then you've just added CO detection without pulling more cables. At this point, due to the age and how much the DSC guys monkeyed with the system, you're better off pulling down the heats and smokes and correcting those issues. If they made this much of a mistake in the panel, you need to investigate what else they touched.
 
5. 18/4 solid. You're looking at a heavier AWG and old jacketed cable, used to be a lot thicker in the day. You're comparing that to 22/2 stranded twist zip cord. Different beast.
 
RAL said:
1. They may have wired it this way because by connecting the detectors to individual zones, it makes it easy to tell which one triggered an alarm and to be able to see the zone name/number on the keypad.  But that's only helpful for false alarms.  In a real fire, you want to get out as fast as possible, not waste time with the keypad.  Properly installed, smoke detectors shouldn't produce many false alarms, and when they do, the detector that triggered the alarm should latch the condition so you can walk through the house and see which one triggered, before resetting them.
 
2. It's not dangerous to have the detectors wired to individual zones (though there are other reasons you may not want to).  What is dangerous is that the EOL resistors are at the panel, and not and the end of the line, at the detectors.  Also, since the existing detectors are 4-wire detectors, each one should have a power supervision relay installed at the detector end.  If there is a loss of power to the detector for any reason, the relay will trigger an alarm.
 
3. You could connect the 6 smoke detectors to individual zones on the Elk.  It gets very complicated when you want to reset the system after a fire alarm.  DEL provided a good explanation in this thread:
 
http://cocoontech.com/forums/topic/26263-zone-planning/page-2#entry211306
 
4. If you want to re-use the existing wiring, then you should replace the detectors with 2-wire detectors, so you can use the 4-wire cables to construct a proper daisy chain of the smokes.
 
The i3 2WT-B is a good smoke detector.  You might also want to consider the i4 COSMO-2W, which includes a carbon monoxide detector.  But it doesn't have a thermal heat detector like the 2WT-B.   In most rooms, you probably don't need the heat detector.   The i4 series is compatible with the i3 series, so you can have a mix of the two models.
 
5. The smoke detector cables look like they are 18 gauge, which they should be.  It's stiffer wire than the 22 gauge used for door and window contacts.
RAL,
 
My guess is, based on what was done in the JB, is they didn't understand fire alarm and they were sold replacement detectors and the installer didn't have enough conductors (though cable looks like at least 6 if not 8 conductor) to properly wire the loop and bring the power and circuit through. They went with a poor choice rather than install 2 wire units or wire the loop properly.  Going with the terminal strips, I'm guessing everything was landed in the JB and they got confused or inexperienced installer.
 
Original install looks reasonably OK, and cable was managed and reasonably neat, the problems appeared to occur after someone started lifting cables from the terminal blocks and changing how it was connected.
 
I'm OK with a JB and it being filled with cables, hell, I'm guilty of it in my own house (pulling multiconductors up a story and dropping into another unfinished area and have 50 pair (multiple cables) and at least 4-5 18/4, 18/8 and 22/4 with field cabling brought to it as well. The main issue is knowing what is connected to the other end. In a case like what you see in the OP's install, I laugh when I see installs like this....guys back in the day wanted to have next to zero cables in the panel, so JB's were installed in proximity to the panel (underneath, above, or in an attic or basement in proximity). Made service and other things a real PITA as the pairs and colors were often made up, or any mapping was gone or non-existant. Same reason why I despise the number/letter tags wrapped on cables.
 
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