In short, a smoke vent control panel is a unit dedicated to the control of smoke ventilation systems. Additionally, in some cases, smoke ventilation control panels come with the feature of providing daily ventilation functionality.

Although the functionalities appear simple, there are many products on the market for contractors to choose from. In this article, we’ll answer some popular questions about smoke control panels and selecting the right product. Moreover, we’ll offer contractors advice about the most important things to keep in mind when choosing a product, such as regulations and product compliance.

How to select a smoke vent control panel

Smoke Control Panel Compliance

To begin with, it is essential to remember that a smoke vent control panel should be certified to EN 12101-10 if it contains a power supply and all critical input/output circuits should be as per the requirements of ISO 21927-9 (prEN 12101-9). This guarantees compliance with both European and British standards:

  • BS EN 12101 Smoke and heat control systems: Part 10 power supplies is harmonised under the Construction Products Regulation that refers to the power supply equipment side;
  • BS ISO 21927-9:2012 Smoke and heat control systems. Specification for control equipment covers all others aspects.

There are many products on the market giving the illusion of compliance with this standard with the use of terms like “designed in accordance with”, but without test evidence or a declaration of performance to prove the certification, they are non-compliant and compromise on safety.

Is your smoke control panel part of a shaft or standalone?

The key thing to consider is how your control panel will function within a smoke control system. In residential buildings, there are generally two options – your panel will either be standalone or function as a part of a multi-level system. If you are working on a new build with no pre-existing smoke control system, this choice will be determined by the relevant regulations. However, if your project requires the replacement of an already existing system you may need to replace control panels with compatible devices or replace the entire system.

Some smoke control panels can work locally both in standalone mode and as a part of a shaft system. For example, the EV-301-MC-BB and EV-601-MC-BB panels are suitable for use in standalone mode for a small single stair building. Alternatively, the same smoke control panels can be used in modular mode for multi-level buildings.

On the other hand, if your project requires a central smoke control panel, a product like the M-SHEV Multi-Zone Control Panel would be a more suitable choice. With an M-SHEV, you can control the actuators in a building centrally from one smoke control panel.

How does your vent open in terms of motor?

Smoke Control Panel actuator
The technical specifications of a typical actuator we supply on projects.

Another important factor to consider is the motor that your ventilator is supplied with. The majority of AOV (automatic opening vent) motors are 24V reverse polarity. Although there are 230V motors available, these are generally considered non-compliant and should be avoided. At Group SCS we supply control panels that can open any type of actuator so long as it’s 24V.

Additionally, the current consumption of the vent motor is also important to selecting a vent. For example, if the current consumption is 3.0A or less an EV-301-MC-BB can be used. However, if the current is between 3.0A and 6.0A, then an EV-601-MC-BB should be selected. From the table above you can see that the actuator in our example is 1.0A. This means that an EV-301-MC-BB smoke control panel will be well suited for the job.

Battery back-up

If a panel is connected to a 230V mains supply, then it is required to have battery back-up, which is essentially a built-in battery pack. The battery must be able to:

  • Keep the panel running in standby mode for up to 72 hours and then
  • Provide three 60 second AOV motor (actuator) operations (open, close, open) after the 72 hours

Moreover, the control panel must include a charging circuit and monitor the main supply charging the battery.

Monitored circuits

Smoke Control Panel monitored circuitLine monitoring of all critical inputs and outputs is required for compliance with prEN 12101-9 and ISO 21927-9. This would include motor outputs, override switch connections, and smoke detector/fire alarm inputs. If any of the above cables has an open circuit (cable broken) or a short circuit (someone puts a screw through a cable) the panel will go into a fault condition and alert people in the building.

Lockout functionality

Albeit important, this control panel feature can often be overlooked. Lockout is a functionality that essentially prevents control panels in multi-story buildings from opening vents on all levels if a fire breaks out on one floor. Those unaware of this functionality may mistake it for a fault in the panel, however, it is an important safety feature that guarantees the correct operation of a smoke control system.

For example, if a fire starts on the 2nd floor of a 4-story building, only the head of shaft vent and the head of stair vent should open. This will allow the smoke to be extracted without spreading to other floors. If lobby ventilators on other floors open, the smoke will escape through them and into the floor, threatening the wellbeing of occupants on those floors.

Due to this, lockout functionality is an essential feature for smoke control. All Group SCS smoke control panels – EV-301, EV-601 and M-SHEV support the lockout functionality.

Group SCS Smoke Vent Control Panels

We supply a wide range of smoke vent control panels to govern simple systems, complex systems and all the systems in-between. In the table below, we’ve outlined the technical specifications of our most popular products and their main functionalities.

Control PanelStandalonePart of ShaftVoltsAmpsBattery backupLockout functionality


View our Control Panels in the Shop


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