My husband and I moved into our new house almost two months ago. We watched it be built from the ground up and we couldn’t be prouder. I’m sorry to say there’s almost no networking in our house with the exception of our WLAN. But this house isn’t as dumb as its older bretheren. When our contractor told us about the smoke/fire alarm sytem that was being installed, I was pretty excited. The system is tied into the house’s electrical and “networked” together. So if one goes off, they all go off so as to alert the entire house and hopefully get to safety in the event of a fire. I liked the sound of it after years of living in an apartment with detectors with questionable detection skills (would it really wake us? would it detect smoke fast enough?). But what sounds good verbally, doesn’t necessarily sound good at 3:30 in the morning when the alarms are going off all over your house.
There was no smoke. There was no fire. And considering that the detectors were brand-new with brand-new batteries, it most likely wasn’t the battery (although for safety’s sake we did test each detector). Adding fuel to the fire, we had no idea which detector was the faulty oneâ€”the one initiating the alert. Although I like the idea of a whole-house alert in the event of fire, how do you troubleshoot when there’s no intelligence behind the system? Not only were we uncertain of which detector to check, but what was the source of the problem? I wanted my alert system to go one step farther and be part of a network where I can see how each of these units were functioning, where battery life can be monitoried and notices sent out when it’s time to replace them, and most of all, I wanted to know the source of the problem since it wasn’t the battery.
I didn’t tell you that my husband and I own tools, but they’re just for looks. We can feel our way around a network (we are, after all, Generation Y and Xers) but beyond that, carpentry and electrical work, it’s a lost art. “What do we do now?” we asked ourselves. The only solution was checking each one individually. After taking apart each detector, we found the problem child and discovered that it wasn’t the battery; it was the wiring. I had to shake my head. An almost-intelligent system is worse than a dumb one. In fact, I later read forum posts that told of homeowners ripping out these systems and replacing them with battery-operated versions (if they replaced them at all). There’s a lot of lost potential there, not to mention the risk to safety.
At InfoComm 2010, on Thursday, June 10, register for the “AV in the Life Safety Market” InfoComm Academy Training from 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. (2RUs) with presenter Barry Luz in room N258.