Hochiki Ekho Hybrid Wireless Fire Alarm System

A New Generation of Hybrid Wireless Fire Detection

Ekho is a wireless based family of products which can be fully integrated into Hochiki’s renowned ESP intelligent hardwired system. 

At the core of the system is the wireless Translator module. It is hard-wired to the fire alarm control panel loop and communicates continuously with the wireless devices. Wireless Expander modules are used to extend the radio mesh network, increasing the reach and capacity of the overall system.

At the core of the system is the wireless Translator module. It is hard-wired to the fire alarm control panel loop and communicates continuously with the wireless devices. Wireless Expander modules are used to extend the radio mesh network, increasing the reach and capacity of the overall system.

Video Transcript

Ekho is a hybrid wireless fire detection system and when we say hybrid, it simply means that it's a wireless system that forms part of a wired ESP system. It does this by using a hardwired translator module installed onto the fire detection loop. Everything from the translator onwards is wireless.

So, looking at a typical hybrid wireless system, here's our translator wired to the loop. And as the name implies, it translates the commands coming from the panel and transmits them out into the wireless network. It then receives the signals from the wireless devices and translates them for the panel. Expander modules can be used to further increase the wireless communication range by receiving the translator signals and retransmitting them allowing the wireless field devices to be installed at greater distances.

Now, if you're already familiar with Hochiki's systems and products, you'll be aware of the FIREwave system which we brought to market back in 2012, a fantastic system that has been used around the world in a number of prestigious projects. The new Ekho system built upon that success bringing a wealth of new features, improved performance and greater flexibility. Let's take a look at both of these systems side by side.

First and foremost, the single biggest improvement with the Ekho system is in the wireless range that it can offer. We can see quite clearly on these two graphs that there are huge increases in both the distance at which the translator can communicate with its expanders and the communication range between those expanders and the field devices. And at this point, we should point out that as with the FIREwave system, we highly recommend that a site survey is undertaken to verify these distances on site.

And secondly, the number of devices that can be programed onto the system has been greatly improved as shown by these graphs.

There are also a number of added features in the Ekho system including longer battery life, automatic signal switching, alarm testing as well as some additional product types. I mentioned automatic signal switching just now. This leads us onto the new wireless technology employed by Ekho. The Ekho system operates across a mesh network. And what this means simply is that rather than following a preprogramed linear hierarchy of translator, expander and field device, on an Ekho system, every field device will automatically choose the expander that offers the strongest signal path back to the translator. Let's take a closer look at how that works.

For FIREwave system, each wireless device has been preprogramed to communicate directly with a translator or a specific expander. And this would've been determined by the system design based on the signal strengths identified on the site survey.

But the Ekho system creates a mesh of interconnecting links between all of the expanders on the system. And this means that if, for any reason, a field device loses its connection with an expander, it can automatically tune in to the next strongest signal from another expander. So, the system is constantly determining the best path for the field device signals getting back to the translator.

In this way, the whole system is always on, connected and communicating regardless of any interruptions to signals. This robustness is what makes Ekho one of the most reliable hybrid wireless systems on the market and with up to 10 translators per loop and up to 126 expanders and/or field devices on each translator, It also delivers on capacity making it totally flexible for any application. We should point out that system capacity is dependent on control panel and loop drive current as well as the local installation standards.

Wireless fire detection is traditionally used for those installations where traditional fire cables cannot be used, historic or aesthetically sensitive locations where cables cannot be embedded into the fabric of the building, older buildings that have a history of asbestos use where drilling would be prohibited, multibuilding sites such as hospitals and university campuses where it's just impractical or too expensive to install cables between buildings. And finally, sites that are difficult to access or where the time on site must be kept to a minimum to avoid disruption. For example, labs or hospitals.

Let's take a closer look at the devices in the Ekho range. The translator and expander are both compact and simple to install and the translator features an integral short circuit isolator. There are three sensors, optical, heat and multi-sensor. All sensors come with their own bases and batteries.

Traditional EN54 Part 23 requirements, there is also an improved optical sensor with integral VAD and voice alarm. The device features three prerecorded voice messages and these can be reprogramed by the end user. For the control and monitoring of other devices, there's also an input module and an output module. And finally, the system offers an indoor use manual call point and a wall mounted sounder with four inbuilt tones.

The Ekho range has been approved by LPCB to all of the relevant product standards as well as EN54 Part 25 and manufactured in accordance with the European RED directive. So, you can be assured that the system is fully compliant.

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