What is the Best Remote Annunciator for Fire Alarms?

By Andrew Erickson

January 1, 2023

A remote annunciator for your fire alarms gives you visibility in locations other that right in front of your central alarm collector. This is important when you have multiple people who need to see alarms.

This can be as simple as having multiple desks in your monitoring center. It's better to give people a display at their workstation than to have people crowded around a single box, obviously.

remote annunciator LCD screen

This remote annunciator for fire alarm data displays your current alarms on a large LCD screen. It gives you visibility when you aren't directly in front of your actual monitoring server.

Let's talk a look at the core functions of a remote annunciator and some buying criteria you can use as you work toward your purchase decision.

What does a Remote Annunciator actually do?

A remote annunciator displays fire alarm information from a central monitoring station. It provides remote visibility of alarms and can be used to alert remote personnel of fire hazards or emergency events. The remote annunciator was typically connected to the central fire alarm collector by serial wiring, but more modern systems also use Ethernet or wireless connections.

The remote annunciator typically displays the status of each fire alarm zone and associated devices. It also supports remote resetting of alarms, and may include remote control of associated fire systems.

Some remote annunciators may replicate all of the outputs (ex. printed paper roll, audible alerts) of the main collector, while many are purely a digital display screen or software that you install on your PC workstation.

Buying Criteria for Remote Annunciator Panels

What should you look for when buying a remote annunciator? There are several things you must balance, but they're really not that complex or different from other B2B purchase decisions.

When selecting a remote annunciator for fire alarms, there are many factors to take into consideration. When making your selection, it is important to look for the following features:

  1. Durability:
    This is different than "durability" when choosing pull handles or outdoor boxes. The annunciator in usually installed in a monitoring room. It doesn't need to be able to withstand weather conditions and other external pressures that come with being installed outdoors or in damp areas. Still, you want things like the annunciator's touchscreen (if applicable) to be high-quality for years of reliable operation.
  2. Compatibility:
    Ensure the remote annunciator is compatible with your existing fire alarm system. This will reduce installation time and help ensure a successful operation of the device. At Digitize, we make our own Remote Annunciator product to ensure instant compatibility with our Prism LX fire alarm monitoring system.
  3. Expandability:
    Choose a remote annunciator that can be easily expanded to accommodate more fire alarms or peripherals as necessary.
  4. Connectivity:
    A remote annunciator needs to be able to establish a secure connection with your fire alarm system. Look for devices that have the ability to connect via wired, wireless or cellular networks. Generally, wired network is preferred here. You get a boost in reliability for a device that really isn't going to be moving around.
  5. Cost:
    Choose a device that fits your budget and provides you with the necessary features for an effective and reliable operation of your fire alarm system. As I usually say, don't forget that you're literally protecting human life when it comes to fire alarm monitoring. You need to work within the budget you're given, but a little bit of extra safety can justify quite a bit of additional spending on a quality system.
  6. Maintenance:
    Look for annunciators that come with easy-to-follow instructions for maintenance and troubleshooting. You should also have the option (but not the requirement) to purchase maintenance visits from your manufacturer or local distributor. We offer both of these options at Digitize, precisely because it will help you keep the system up and running for a longer period of time. No matter who you choose for your annunciator panel, make sure you have the access to remote monitoring and remote maintenance.
  7. Display type:
    Many remote annunciators have an LCD display, but some use a simpler LED display. Consider which type is best for your needs.

Selecting the right remote annunciator from the beginning will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. It's important to take all of these factors into consideration when selecting the best remote annunciator for your fire alarm system.

Company history and tech support are also big factors in your decision

Established companies with long track records are often the best bet for remote annunciators that will work as advertised. You should also look into tech support, remote monitoring (by the manufacturer watching over your system), and remote maintenance options before buying any remote annunciator panel.

As an example, we started in 1977 here at Digitize, so we've seen pretty much everything related to fire alarms and annunciation. Now that we're a DPS Telecom company, our technology heritage also includes the many innovations in reliability that DPS brings from its telecom remote monitoring experience.

For all of our history, up to and including today, we've offered tech support for all of our products. It's just something you need for complex B2B equipment. We don't charge for it, either. You get a better experience without feeling overcharged. As a result, you're more likely to stick with Digitize in the long run.

This isn't to say that you can't get lucky with a newer company. Unfortunately, your odds of success are reduced when you choose equipment that doesn't have a proven track record.

Do your homework before choosing an annunciator

When selecting a remote annunciator for fire alarms, make sure you do your research beforehand to find a device that meets all of your needs. The right device can help ensure a secure, reliable, and improved operation of your fire alarm system.

Speak with a Digitize engineer to get an expert second opinion

At Digitize, fire alarm monitoring devices are our total focus. We've done this a lot, and we can help you with your project.

To bounce ideas of an expert in this field, call Digitize at 1-800-523-7232 or email info@digitize-inc.com

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 17 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and...Read More