When alarm systems first came on to the scene, EVERYTHING was hard wired into your home. Wireless technology had not yet been invented – at least not for home security.
So for decades, alarm companies would come out to your home, suggest a system and then send an alarm technician to install it for you.
The problem was that the technician would be there for hours running wires through your home, drilling holes to run the wires, and cutting a BIG old hole in your wall for your keypad – or multiple keypads.
While some people may have kept their alarm systems for many, many years, eventually, the system would be obsolete or would need to be replaced – and if the system weren’t replaced, it would just sit there with a bunch of wires hanging out and ugly keypads drilled into the wall.
Complex wired alarm systems have come a long way since the early days and are a tried and true method to home security.
The problem? Wiring is being cut out – literally. Not only can intruders quickly cut a wire, but many alarm companies are moving towards more affordable and less intrusive wireless alarm systems.
Wireless alarm systems are generally more affordable, but they provide a lot more flexibility for the future expansion of your alarm system.
They do not require an intensive installation by an alarm technician – some don’t need a technician at all.
With a wireless alarm system, you can easily add and remove alarm sensors depending on your current needs.
If you move to a new home, many companies will allow you to take the alarm system with you and use it at your new residence.
If you think about it, with a wireless alarm system, you may never need to purchase another one again!
How Wired and Wireless Home Security Systems Work
Both systems rely on sensors installed at strategic points around your home, including entry points like doors and windows, as well as in hallways and other high-traffic areas. They can detect when a door or window is opened or when someone moves around in your home.
When the system is armed, a triggered sensor will send an alert to the central control panel, triggering an audible alarm, sending you a notification (such as a telephone call, text, or a warning through a mobile app), and alerting the monitoring station.
However, although they both operate on sensors, there are a few things that distinguish the two home security systems.
Wired Home Security Systems
As the name suggests, a wired or hardwired home security system relies on wires running through your house to send information back to the central control panel, triggering alarms or notifications when appropriate and notifying your security company if that is part of your service package.
Wireless Home Security Systems
Wireless home security systems use radio waves rather than wires or cables to communicate between the control panel, sensors, and cameras and send notifications to you and your monitoring company.
Like the wired system, it connects to a central control panel – often a touchscreen mounted to your wall or a small box put on a counter or in a cupboard.
Wireless systems, including sensors, cameras, and alarms, use radio frequency technology instead of wires.
There are countless models of wireless security systems, all of which work similarly with minor variations.
When a wireless device picks up abnormal activity, it tells the alarm that something isn’t right, triggers the 85 dB siren, and the alarm monitoring service calls the police on your behalf.
Pros Of Wireless Home Security Systems
While people often assume wireless security is less safe than wired systems, industry veterans know this is far from the truth.
Wireless home security systems offer several advantages over hardwired security systems.
Wireless systems can be installed within minutes. You don’t even have to be tech-savvy to do it. Because you don’t need to drill holes or tackle tricky wiring, self-installation is common and eliminates installation fees, saving you time and money.
Portable And Hassle-free
Packing your security system and moving from one home to another is a piece of cake with wireless security systems.
Because everything is stuck onto the wall and not hardwired, removing cameras, detectors, and other components of a wireless security system and putting them up in a new location takes minutes, not days. If you rent and move frequently, wireless systems are the way to go.
Remote Smartphone Access
Wireless systems can be monitored on the go with a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Your crucial fob offers another way to arm and disarm the system if you’d instead not use a smartphone app.
Although wireless systems work with electricity, most models can switch to a backup battery if the power goes out. If there’s a power outage in your neighbourhood, wired systems will lose control along with the rest of your house unless you have a backup generator.
If you have a wireless security system with a backup battery, you stay protected during a power loss event.
Cons Of Wireless Home Security Systems
Cheap wireless systems can be hacked: Low-quality, outdated wireless systems risk that hackers can jam detector signals. However, you can avoid hacking if your system has strong data encryption.
Some wireless systems are vulnerable to structural or electromagnetic interference. Radio frequencies go around solid objects; they cannot go through them.
So placing sensors in the correct locations is critical if you want them to work correctly. Your alarm company should inform you exactly where each part should be installed, so there is no confusion.
Benefits of Wired Home Security Systems
Some of the pros of a wired home security system include:
- Fewer components
- Less likely to run out of power
- Video is recorded and saved even if the internet goes out
- Less likely to experience electrical interference
Generally speaking, wired security systems have fewer components and often cost less than wireless ones. Yes, they usually require professional installation, but this cost can be significantly reduced if your home is already wired for a security system.
A wired security system won’t run out of power unless there is a power outage. Even so, an excellent wired system should have a backup battery system.
A wired security camera will record directly onto a high-capacity digital video recorder (DVR), connected to your home internet with an Ethernet cable. It can continue to register even if the internet goes down.
These cameras don’t need to be plugged into electrical outlets because they are powered by a central adapter, using a splitter to feed each one.
Because the system’s components communicate through wires, these setups tend to be less susceptible than wireless security systems to incidental radio or electrical interference or purposeful radio or electrical interception, corruption, alteration, blockage, manipulation, tampering, imitation, and mimicking by a hacker. The wired security system is also less prone to false alarms.
Wired security systems don’t have the wireless limitation of requiring sensors to be within a certain distance from the control panel, meaning they can cover a larger area in a home and offer more zones of protection.
Disadvantages of Wired Home Security Systems
A wired security system almost always requires a lengthy professional installation process. Wires must be run throughout the residence to every device and sensor, including door, window, motion, and glass-break detectors. Installation usually involves running wires behind drywall, and it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to hide all the cables in an already constructed home.
If new components are added to the system, this will also probably take professional installation. And once the system is installed, it would be impractical to take it with you if you moved. Also, if you rent an apartment or home, you may need to check your lease or with your landlord to see if you can make the kinds of modifications to the required residence with a wired security system.
Because your wired system runs through your telephone line, it could be vulnerable if a knowledgeable criminal cuts the phone line.
When it comes to security cameras, cables need to be extended from each camera to the DVR, which requires some home handiwork skills (or professional help) to avoid too much drywall damage.
Other wired security camera disadvantages include:
- DVR input jacks limit the number of cameras that can be used.
- It’s difficult, and sometimes messy, to install the cameras.
- Home repairs are often required after installation.
- Cameras cannot be easily moved.
Benefits of Wireless Home Security Systems
Some of the pros of a wireless home security system include:
- Easy installation and flexibility to take with you when moving
- Battery operated
- Easier to upgrade a system with new technology
- Simple integration with other smart home devices
Since wireless systems don’t need to be hardwired, they can be installed and updated more quickly and taken with you if you move homes. And because they run on batteries, they can be installed in locations without electrical outlets or wiring. It’s an excellent solution for people living in older homes, condominiums, and apartments, where it might be difficult (or not allowed, if renting) to install a wired security system.
The wireless security system is easy to expand as your requirements evolve, perhaps adding cameras, including a doorbell video setup.
While wireless systems may lend themselves more easily to DIY installation than the wired versions, it is sometimes worth getting professional help to ensure sensors and cameras are correctly positioned; cameras are appropriately hung, the arm/disarm system is appropriately set up, and all the parts of the design work seamlessly together. The installation professional can also advise whether a setup has all the components you need for optimum security coverage.
Wireless security cameras plug into the home’s electrical outlet and transmit signals through your Wi-Fi. The footage can be stored on the camera’s memory card or uploaded for cloud storage with a subscription service. Users also have the option of viewing the video footage in real-time, allowing services such as video doorbells. Wireless security systems are also easier to install than wired ones and very easy to upgrade, so you can add extra devices whenever you wish.
One of the exciting things about new wireless home security technology is its interactive nature, enabling smart home security systems and home automation services. Wired and old wireless systems depend on one-way communication, so a sensor might tell the central hub a door is open but cannot receive a signal back.
But a new interactive wireless sensor offers two-way communication. So, it could be set up to tell the hub that the door is open, and then the seat could order the home’s front hallway lights to come on if so programmed.
Today’s smart security systems allow greater control and accessibility, enabling remote access, at any time and from any location, using a smartphone or personal computer.
A system that is customised to your needs can include:
- Remote arming and disarming of the security system.
- Quickly automating lights or changing them remotely for your arrival.
- Adjusting the thermostat to save on energy and have a comfortable environment when you come home.
- Accessing appliances, like the coffeemaker, or set schedules to automate when they operate and shut off.
- Setting up your system to receive notifications via email, text, phone, or real-time video clips of alarms.
- Using your mobile device or computer to see who’s at the door, what your pet is doing, or watch as the kids come home.
- Viewing stored video clips of events from monitored areas of the home.
Disadvantages of Wireless Home Security Systems
Since the components of a wireless security system run on batteries, you run the risk of them running out of power if you aren’t diligent about replacing them.
The wireless security system runs on radio waves, which can sometimes be subject to interference from, say, other devices using radio waves, such as baby monitors. This can also lead to false alarms. It is also possible that the radio waves could be purposefully interfered with by a hacker intent on compromising the security system.
Weather can sometimes interfere with wireless signals, causing false alarms to sound or for sensors to stop working intermittently. False alarms can cost you money in the form of fines from cities or emergency agencies.
Wireless sensors need to be placed within a certain distance of the central control panel, which can pose limitations, so you might not have the same kind of coverage and as many zones of protection as a wired security system. (ADT has an additional component that can extend the range of sensors in some of our wireless security system solutions, however.)
Since wireless security cameras are dependent on your Wi-Fi, they can have these drawbacks:
- If your Wi-Fi goes down, so will your cameras.
- Without proper precautions, the cameras can be vulnerable to hacking and other cyberattacks.
- The signal can be intercepted.
- They can experience interference from other Wi-Fi-equipped devices or obstacles, such as walls.
Types of Wireless Security Systems
Wireless security systems come in many shapes and forms. The main difference between them is the equipment. The most straightforward wireless home security systems have Wi-Fi alarm monitoring, sensors, and a control panel with a siren.
Devices that monitor potential household dangers, such as fires and carbon monoxide leaks, can be incorporated into a wireless alarm system.
Advanced wireless systems, on the other hand, offer users a wide range of possibilities. Features like remote smartphone access, text and email notifications, and web access give you more control to monitor and adjust the system from anywhere. This is why advanced strategies that leverage the latest technology have become so popular.
Monitored systems are overseen by an alarm monitoring company and enable security personnel to contact the authorities in an emergency immediately.
Monitored systems give you added peace of mind because trained emergency professionals watch over your home around the clock.
Self-monitored security systems are generally cheaper and have lower monthly costs if any. The only drawback is that the job of calling local authorities falls to you in an emergency.
Self-monitored systems make use of loud alarms and bright lights to warn you of an intruder or breach. You can also receive alerts on your smartphone if your device is connected to your security system.
How Much Do Wireless Security Systems Cost?
Three factors will determine the cost of a wireless home security system:
- Monthly monitoring
An average home security system can cost between $300 to $1,500, depending on the capabilities and features of the system. Monthly fees associated with 24/7 alarm monitoring wireless systems range from $0 to $75.
If you want to save money and have basic home improvement skills, we encourage you to try a self-installation process for your wireless security system.
If that sounds overwhelming, get a professional alarm technician to install your system. They will also ensure that you know how to operate it correctly and that everything functions as it should.
Professional installation ranges from $350 to $1,200, depending on how comprehensive you'd like your system to be. Many companies offer package deals that include installing a primary wireless system if you also sign up for their monitoring services.