Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works

Can I Replace the ADT Panel with a Firelite Panel?

By Douglas Krantz | Maintenance

Can I Replace the ADT Panel with a Firelite Panel?

Can I Replace the ADT Panel with a Firelite Panel?

Greetings Douglas,

We have a Focus 200(?) from 1997 that has quit. It was installed by ADT and I would like to put a customer-owned panel in its place. I would like to hook onto the rest of the existing devices, except for the keypads. I have never done an addressable panel before. I normally do the Vistas and Potter 8 zone panels. I cannot find a wiring diagram for the Focus panel, nor the SIM gateways. I have attached a diagram of our current setup.

My first question is: Is there a panel that you would recommend as an easy drop-in replacement for the Focus 200 panel?

Second: It looks like they are using 3 separate SIM loops [SIM loops are similar to 4-wire SLC loops] in my setup, connected to 2 loop inputs on the main board (through 2 SIM gateways). When I look at a Firelite panel, it looks like they only have 1 SIM loop. If I go with a Firelite panel, will I need to merge all of my devices back onto 1 SIM loop? Or is there some other approach?

Thank You, WT


Compatible is a long-winded word that means "These devices will actually work with each other." If they aren't compatible, they will not work with each other.


All fire alarm systems are proprietary; no manufacturer wants another manufacturer's equipment connected to their panel. They are afraid that if something is wrong with the other manufacturer's equipment, even the panel's manufacturer will be held accountable for the whole system failing. All panel manufacturers make sure that no other manufacturer's devices will work with the panel.

In other words, if there are ADT Focus devices on the SIM loops, the only fire alarm control panel that will actually work is an ADT Focus panel. In order to use the Firelite panel, all addressable devices have to be made by Firelite, and all horns and strobes have to be the compatible ones listed in the "Installation Manual" provided by Firelite.

There is a possibility that the Firelite Installation Manual is available on the web, but I would recommend that you call the technical service team at Firelite to obtain a manual. Make sure you have the exact model number of the panel before contacting them.

12 Volts or 24 Volts

I'm guessing here, but I think that the existing ADT Focus panel is a 12-volt panel and the proposed Firelite panel is a 24-volt panel. If so, when replacing the ADT panel with the Firelite panel, the existing horns and strobes will have too much voltage, and probably will fail; the horns and strobes will have to be replaced. This is a compatibility problem.

Replacement Panel

The lowest cost option is to contact ADT's technical support team to get a new direct replacement for the ADT panel. Even if ADT requires that they perform the replacement, having ADT do the work will be cheaper than most other possibilities.

The other option is to redesign the whole system, including the pulling of any necessary electrical and fire permits, and the further certification of the new system by the local fire marshal. The redesign work may even require the addition of new wiring, especially if the building is an apartment building or condominium building.

If there are bedrooms in the building, updating the system to current standards is extremely costly. Be very cautious when bidding, the cost may be much higher than planned.

Also, be careful of using the customer supplied Firelite panel; it may be obsolete. Before trying to use the Firelite panel, contact the technical support team for Firelite. Even if the panel is working now, if it's not supported by Firelite, it is no longer a Life-Safey fire alarm panel. If in the future, anything goes wrong, obsolete panels could easily be a huge liability problem for the owner, and for you.

Douglas Krantz
Life Safety
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