NEW Fire-Lite ES series Control Panels



Look at the first two panels!

According to the Fire-Lite website…

What do y’all think?

I think they look really nice and very retro!

I have read the manuals and I must say I am a little disappointed to see that the software UI layout has remained almost exactly the same. Fire-Lite products are generally quite reliable and they are certainly robust and highly effective, but one thing that always seems to leave a lot to be desired is the way you interface with/program the panel. Things like point editing and menu selections could have been revised to be a little more user friendly and make more use of the arrow keys and enter keys especially in navigating the menus. A bigger display would have been a nice improvement, too.



That being said, the new panels look refreshed and modernized, and I’m sure they’ll help keep the Fire-Lite brand prominent in the industry. It’s good for them to release new products from time to time. Understandably the R&D for any new life safety product takes lots of time because of the additional testing, regulation, UL certification processes, etc, but we’ve seen the same panels for a long time now so I’m sure dealers can’t wait to begin selling the “all new” panels to compete with the new stuff coming out from EST, Simplex (with the new Autocall), etc.

Two things I like about this are the built-in IP communicator and the dedicated CO alarm light, instead of just being under the “supervisory” light.

Personally what I’d like to see is a return of modular Fire-Lite systems. I know it will never happen because Notifier exists, but it’s still something I’d like to see. Scaleable addressable systems, you know.

Also nice to see that the NAC power is now filtered DC instead of FWR, although I didn’t quite understand what the current limit per NAC is. Is it 2.5A or 250mA?



I wonder if they’re going to release a 318-point version of this panel, or if they’ll omit it in order to avoid overlapping with the Notifier ONYX series. I suppose this will also replace the FireWarden series under a different name.


The 2.5 amp rating is for Special Application appliances. Those are listed on page 12 of this document.

http://www.firelite.com/CatalogDocuments/15384.pdf

Those appliances have known inrush current and peak operating current, synchronization needs, among other electrical characteristics and are listed for use with this panel.



The 250 ma rating applies to notification appliances not listed in the compatibility document above. Those have not been tested for their electrical characteristics so the panel has a much lower current rating when using other appliances.

I just hope they have the MS-10UD (or whatever) piezo, not the other higher-pitched, mini horn like piezo.


Ah, so Special Applications means notification appliances listed for use with the panel. That’s good to know. Indeed I’ve heard of panels being fried by using unlisted appliances, including old and rare horns.

I have a few complaints about these panels.



1.

If you do an auto program and have a module in alarm which happens all the time with tampers and such enrolls as a fire alarm, now when you go to change in programming you cannot access until you reset.

So same as a 9200 figure pull off the addressable loop, reset and reprogram, then reconnect.



BUT NO! they only way I could do is power down and up leaving off the loop. After the 10 minutes of initilizing you can then program…



2.

Support has also gone down hill a little, seems as if they’ve taken on some new blood and they are not as familiar. Granted I put one in first week after release so maybe that will get better.



3.

Tech support and the reps had confusion about what base to use if you would like to assign temporal 4 in programming. Had to use reverse polarity and only came out temporal 3. And requires a eol power supervision relay for the bases to be installed to code.



4.

The thing is SLOW!!!



5.

Glitchy issues with es50 and the mmf-302-6 had to update firmware to resolve. You can also not change the label on these. has to say 2-wire smoke or something or it will go into trouble.



6.

FS-tools (new Programming software) The first version took me forever to boot because the desktop shortcut does not map to the correct executeable file



7.

Almost Identical to ps-tools, so why couldn’t they make it backwards compatible to incorporate the MS-series? now I need two seperate softwares. Another complaint is the reports for Inspection and ROC go off 2009? What state goes off 2009? I believe ct just adopted 2016 and have been on 2012 for a while now. You think they could at least update the forms a little.



8.

For programming via flash drive is kinda cool but cannot export device sensitivity. So you need to connect usb which would be fine but it uses male usb? It says in the manual just use a typical Male to male usb cable. So great I have to program my first one, swing by staples, and another retailer, no male to male usb, because it is not a typical part, it’s something I could only buy on amazon and is made in china. Why not go the potter route and make it acessable by ethernet like everyone else does in the 21st century. or leave the same female usb that the 9200udls has on it rather than some connector that no one carries or make it so you can export smoke sensitivity to a flash drive.



9. my first panel had a bad communicator out of the box and was a feat of engineering to figure it out… literally, actually have a firelite engineer on speed dial now for when I get in a jam. They were so quick to assist, relentless calls over 3 days finally came to the conclusion, we should swap the board. Dumped my same program and came up normal



I guess it’s a work in progress, but they should have had a slower phase in to operation until they work out the kinks. depleated all the old inventory of MS and one day you can only buy es series. I’m hesitant to do any panel when it’s first released because I hate being a guniea pig with a paying customer. If potter had rotary switchs instead of binary I would probably be using there panels. It’s rock solid equipment and probably the most technology savy panel I’ve used

Yeah, I’ve installed one of the ES-50s and had some of the same issues: non-standard USB cable, very slow start-up, comes with no documentation so I had to squint at my phone for an hour. Luckily I didn’t have one that was bad out of the box.



It works alright for the application but has some qualities that make me scratch my head:


  • Seriously the ugliest button and display setup I’ve seen, and I can’t figure out how the arrow keys are supposed to be used.
  • Non-standard USB cable, really?
  • Power supply is integrated on the main board so you have to replace the whole thing if it fails.
  • The cabinet is huge!
  • Device descriptions are still limited to about 16 characters.
  • Still has non-intuitive and potentially misleading zone setup.

Cabinet size didn’t change. It’s the same as the Ms panels. The door is the only change.

Yeah, you’re actually right. It’s still a little large for my taste. The 30-year old Miniscan that this one replaced was about half the size. But almost all panels currently on the market are larger than I think they need to be.

I haven’t had an issue yet with cabinet size, but fighting for space with other contractors always seems too be an issue with electrical and data closets.



But that no documentation in the es panel! Now in my document box I just but the document that tells you to go to firelites website to download. And leave the pdf on a flash drive. But I’m pretty sure NFPA says somewhere you must leave the manual onsite, not sure if a pdf counts on that.

It’s similar to a ms panel programming so I didn’t have too much of a learning curve getting my first one up without a manual. The bad communicator kinda threw me through a loop though

I’ve dealt with a couple of the Notifier version of these panels. The ES (FireLite) and X (Notifier) panels are by and large moderately updated versions of their predecessors. They retain much of the menu navigation with a few new features. I have heard that Fire Lite is supposed to release a larger panel later down the line (presumably a MS9600UD replacement). Here is my take on the new versions of these panels.



Likes:

  • Extra device and dual address troubles without having to autoprogram
  • Function/disable keys
  • USB flash drive programming.
  • Still retains ability to program from on board keypad
  • Same cabinet as predecessors, makes retrofits and replacements easy.
  • The Notifier version can be used with Flashscan devices (But only Flashscan OR 100 series ONLY, slightly a disadvantage)



    Dislikes
  • Non standard USB cable needed
  • Can’t program with keyboard anymore
  • As previously mentioned, having to cycle power and wait 5 minutes to clear active tamper/alarm signals
  • Still have limited characters for point descriptions
  • No event count display



    I would also throw in that the zoning is much easier to accomplish than Silent Knight’s panels. It’s incredibly cumbersome to have to map each device type in each zone just to sync the strobes whereas Fire Lite/Notifier makes it easy to accomplish especially if you must do it on the fly.



    Patrick

Yeah, we were putting one in a strip mall for a store, and we had to send it back like 3 times because for some reason we couldn’t get the programming for the duct detectors to work. It would either keep the detector in alarm, or the module in alarm, even after the panel was reset. Other than that its a decent panel, guess we’ll see if its working still come annual time.