Radio Frequency Monitoring
RF Radio technology is a technology that has been used outside of fire alarm for many, many years. When it was introduced to the fire alarm world, it provided the ability to monitor fire panels and send signals back to the monitoring center completely wirelessly, and with out the need for a phone line, internet line, or voice line. The RF communicator itself is the sole device needed to monitor a fire system.
Though this sounds great, it might not be the best system for all areas, as it requires an active network around it in order to function. If it cannot find a signal, then the radio itself is only as usefull as if it were not even there. In metropolitin areas, this technology generally works very well thanks to companies that have taken many years to build up the RF Radio network. For more rural areas, however, another means of communicating may be required in order to monitor a fire alarm system.
So what is the good news about it? For areas that are capable of supporting such a network, this can often be the cheapest option as there is no monthly fee from a telecom company, but more often than not only a fee to monitor the system and maintain the radio as more often than not, these radios are owned by the company that monitors them.
These systems allow for use of reverse polarity, contact closure (FACP Relays), or Contact ID via the panel's phone lines. When determining the best location for the radio, it is very important to find a location that allows the radio to find 3 or more paths back to the monitoring center, has a strong signal to the next radio, and doesn't require the system to hop from one radio to the other too many times to find the monitoring center. Because these things act as repeaters, it is very important that hops be kept to a minimum as more hops increases the time it takes for the signal to be recieved by the monitoring center.