If there was a panel that I sort of dislike? Well it would be the ESSER ECS80.
I’m not saying it’s a horribly bad panel (mind the brand bashing rules guys!) but in itself it’s a decent panel for a beginner (conventional and easy to program, it’s sort of a oversimplified Simplex 4005) and that it has its faults but unfortunately it is not known for being reliable (with an unusually high number of failures, never heard about one failing in the wild but I think Esser sort of corrected the defect in later revisions of the panel).
A friend of mine who also happens to be a FA collector has picked up a ECS80-4 (4 zone version): The panel’s was dead (but was eventually replaced with a ECS80-8 board which happens to have 8 zones instead of 4, huzzah!) even a second collector (I’m member of a French FA collector group) also obtained a ECS80, but said ECS80 died a few days after he got it.
So far nothing is perfect but factory defects is be enough to destroy a product’s reputation.
EDIT: Also there’s the Alpha C2/8 (unsure of the exact model #) that tends to not to age pretty well (power supply failing and taking the mainboard with it, unfortunately replacement mainboards/PSUs are next to impossible to find)
they can be troublesome, the EST3 at my high school had many troubles such as “unprogrammed device data card” (this trouble has something to do with the notification appliances from what i heard from a custodian, not sure if it’s true or not) and FATC (fire alarm terminal cabinet) troubles. I don’t hate EST (being careful with brand bashing) but they should improve their CPUs so that the failure rate of the CPUs isn’t as frequent as they are prone to.
Ok, I’m not trying to sound like a big EST fanboy (though EST is my favourite brand considering I am from Canada) but the EST 3 can be up and down. The panel relies on a solid installation and a solid programmer. When both of those things are included, the EST 3 is a powerful and reliable panel. The QuickStart does have its problems, but that’s what all panels can do when they age. For me personally, my least favourite panel is the Simplex 4100 +
From my experience on these forums, a lot of “hobby” users point the finger at Simplex addressable equipment for being proprietary and generally inaccessible to hobbyists. Unfortunately, this disregards the incredible (in my opinion) capabilities of these systems. ConorTheFAguy6 may have a totally different reason, but that’s my 2 cents for their general reputation around the forums.
With that in mind, for everyone lets be careful of our “brand bashing” rule within the topic, and make sure that all claims against a certain product or manufacturer are based in fact or experience, rather than libel .
I haven’t seen any issue so far in this topic, so great job keeping this professional, guys!
Gotta agree with you there - I purchased one of these to mess around with a few months ago, and programming is a very delicate procedure! They seem to be very prone to CPU crashes if a programming option is accidentally skipped or improperly configured - it will freeze the panel until you restart the unit and reprogram that option. Certainly wouldn’t call it the worst tho - now that it’s up and running, I think it’s really cool from a collector’s standpoint!
Here’s another panel that I don’t really like but also like at the same time (because once you get the hang of it, it’s a very straightforward panel not to mention that it’s rare but the few surviving units are still going strong even if they’re more than 20 years old)…
… Low and behold the Cerberus Guinard TG 02D.
A very simple to use but complicated to wire up panel. Why? Because it’s unusual design causes it to have a few advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages : [list]
Very easy to use and configure (there’s a small door that hides the lamp test and setting dip switches)
[*] Reliable (for a panel that is from the late 90's, the few ones remaining are still going
Disadvantages : [list]
[*] Requires 5 BATTERIES!! (Two 12V batteries for the panel's detection loop, one 9V battery I do not know why it must have a 9V battery but anyways, and two more 12V batteries for the signal PSU
[*] Requires a external power supply to power the signals (as it cannot feed power to NAs)
It’s a panel that I’d like to own, it’s sort of unique but unfortunately is not up to current NF-SSI standards, thus most of the TG02D panels ended up getting taken out.
Per se it’s a very nice panel but with a obscure reputation (very little documentation on the TG02D remains) and it’s kinda difficult to wire up but once you get the hang of it, it’ll not deceive you by it’s reliability and simplicity not to mention that it’s compact but can be unsettling to inexperienced hobbyists.
The reason they are my least favourite panel is because several people have told me (without brand bashing) that they are prone to having CPU malfunctions, even when programmed correctly, they are known for randomly not being able to read addressable devices, again even when programmed correctly, and after about 10 years, the NACS begin to fry and put out more voltage than they are supposed to. The 4020 has the same problem. Please understand that other than those 2 simplex panels, I think the rest of their addressable stuff is amazing and reliable.
From a personal standpoint, I have no least favourite panel as I have zero experience with actual fire alarm systems. However, based on what I’ve read online, the Edwards ESA2000 seems to be almost universally disliked by technicians. I’m not exactly sure why this panel is considered to be so loathsome, but I wouldn’t be surprised if its reputation comes from an extreme lack of user-friendliness: it appears to enjoy throwing trouble codes that are impossible to decipher, and I highly doubt that it’s particularly easy to access the system’s various features when it’s being serviced. The ESA2000 also seems to have, in my opinion, one of the least intuitive user interfaces of any addressable system; for some reason, the system controls were designed to look identical to the zone labels and system status indicator labels, creating a sea of indistinguishable white rectangular tabs.
Despite its poor reputation, I find the ESA2000 to be a rather interesting system from an enthusiast’s perspective. Its retro design is a throwback to the early days of addressable systems, and it puts a smile on my face when I see one in person as these panels are starting to become a rare sight. I’m sure its features were considered fairly advanced when it was initially introduced in the late '80s/early '90s, but the rapid evolution of addressable panels (including the introduction of other EST panels, such as the IRC-3 and EST3, which probably cannibalized the ESA2000’s spot in EST’s lineup) in the 1990s likely left it in the dust shortly after its launch.
That’s the thing though, the ESA 2000 was discontinued in the early 2000’s because my old elementary school was built in ‘98 and had an ESA 2000. The reason techs have trouble with them also is that it is almost impossible to find parts for them, or even an online manual because they were taken off EST’s support list some time back.
I don’t mind the Mircom panels, they are all very easy to work with and easy to program (especially the FA-1000). Only problem I have with them is that their power circuits malfuntion a fair bit. Since I’ve started as a tech we’ve replaced about 10 or more Mircom motherboards, all that were either turning on and off, or turning off during an alarm and restarting.
We still service a fair bit of these in my company. Luckily our boss has worked for Edwards so he knows the ins and outs of these no problem. The thing I do hate about these ones is that they aren’t the best to test. For walktest, you have to select certain dipswitches in a specific order, and half the time it never even works. Not to mention the reset time on these things… it has a minute inhibit, then it takes another minute to reset, and then usually, it might take another minute till you can put in another alarm. When you’re trying to get a high rise building done, it can be time consuming, A full day usually (compared to like 3 to 4 hours using a Mircom panel with walktest).
Sorry for the bump, but recently I was able to acquire an ESA-2000 from my job, and let me tell you that, in my opinion, it is one of the most collector friendly panels I have ever seen. Now I’m only speaking on the conventional models. These panels out of the box have 8 zones and 2 NACs on the motherboard. Almost everything that you need can be programmed from the front display (though yes it can be a little confusing sometimes). Coding options, zone labels, LED mapping, time and date, correlations, auto system configure, etc. The software was only really made for the addressability and more complex stuff. And speaking of coding options, boy does it have a lot, including a crazy 300 bpm rapid signal rate. The panel is expandable up to I believe over 100 zones. It’s also got a buzzer, and I mean, who doesn’t love mechanical buzzers right? The ONLY complaint I have about the panel is the reset time. That’s it. Once you get used to it it can be a really cool system.
Never realized it had so many coding options, but that would make sense. The one we replaced from a building had mini horns set to 20 BPM, like it was a first stage alarm. Might have to play around with the ones we have in our shop, lol.