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Pros vs Cons of Class A & Class B Fire Alarm Systems

When you’re shopping for a fire alarm system, wading through all of the industry terms can be confusing. You just want a fire alarm that protects your employees and property, and keeps your facility in compliance with local regulations.

Unexciting as it is, however, it is important to understand the different types of fire alarm systems before you make a purchase. It’s particularly important to understand the difference between Class A and Class B systems. Essentially, the only difference is how the systems are wired.

About Class B Fire Alarms

Class B configuration is the older and more popular of the two. Class B systems use only two wires to connect the central control unit to peripheral devices. Because of this, they will not full operate when a wire breaks. Every device downstream of the break will not work until the problem is fixed.

Class B Fire Alarm Pros

  • Less expensive - Because Class B systems are not as sophisticated, they cost less. They’re very affordable.
  • Easier to install - Class B systems are easier to install because they are simpler systems.

Class B Fire Alarm Cons

  • Disabled devices - When there’s a short, all downstream systems devices are out of commission. Your fire alarm system will be compromised until the problem is fixed.
  • Not ideal for large systems - With large fire systems, a short can disable many devices, which can be costly and dangerous.

About Class A Fire Alarms

Class A fire alarms have redundant wiring - they use four wires instead of two to eliminate problems caused by connectivity issues. Two wires supply power to the front of the circuit and two supply power from the end of the circuit. Thus, there’s a backup if one of the wires fails.

Class A Fire Alarm Pros

  • Reliability - Class A fire alarm systems won’t fail if there’s a problem with one wire. They’re designed with an automatic backup.
  • Safety - Class A alarms are safer because you don’t have to worry about disabled devices that can compromise the system.

Class A Fire Alarm Cons

  • More expensive - Due to the additional wiring and hardware that is required, Class A systems are more expensive.

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