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Why is wireless better?

Home Forums Home Security Security Systems Why is wireless better?

This topic contains 7 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  a seeker of security 7 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #1469 Reply

    Erick Carlson

    I’m trying to figure out the exact advantages of a wireless security system. Why not just have a tech come in and hardwire an alarm system for you? Seems like it would make your life a lot easier.

  • #1471 Reply


    A good wireless alarm system has two advantages over a wired system – first, each window, door or motion detector can be a separate zone. You will know exactly which window or door is opened or breached. Second, because there are no wires, wiring does not have to be hidden or run to difficult locations. This is not generally an issue with new construction. In many cases hiding wire is not a problem in an existing home either – if the structure of the home permits hiding wires and the security installer is skilled.

    The disadvantages of wireless is the need (and the cost) of replacing batteries, the much higher cost of parts (which can be offset by the cost of labor for a wired system). The wireless system also has greater complexity as each door and window has a transmitter which can eventually fail. Better manufacturers like Honeywell and GE Security offer more reliable equipment.

    That said, the very best way to choose is to find a good, reliable, licensed alarm dealer in your area and ask for their recommendation. It is important to go with a system that is recommended and well supported by your security company.

  • #1472 Reply

    a seeker of security

    Texecom, a UK manufacturer of intruder detection systems have this year released their new wireless security system "Ricochet". This system has a self healing mesh network which means that the range and the stability of the system is greatly increased.

  • #1474 Reply


    Hard wired & wireless security alarm systems are combined to use. Most alarm panel is with wired & wireless zones to accommodate wireless & hard wired detector alarm output.

    That will guarantee the security reliability and installation convenience.

  • #1475 Reply

    a seeker of security

    There is a bit of debate going on today between the merits of different types of home security systems. The discussion seems to ultimately boil down to whether the best system is either wireless or hard wired. Personally, I think there is no question at all that wireless is so much better than a wired system.

    A wired system has a lot of potential drawbacks. For starters, the installation is very complicated and can be a time consuming process. I do not think there are many people who would actually enjoy having their carpet ripped up, holes drilled into their walls and maybe even having some of their drywall torn up to get the wires in place. Yet this is exactly what will happen with most wired systems. The wired system also depends upon electricity to operate. To me, this is a huge potential problem. An experienced burglar will have no problem cutting wires in an effort to disable the system. In the case of a real emergency, like a natural disaster, the power grid could take a real hit and be down for quite some time. Not having an active security system during such a time could make your home a real target.

    A wireless system does not suffer from any of these drawbacks. Obviously, there are no wires which can be cut in times of trouble or robbery. Installation requires no drilling or devastation of your home. In fact most of the modern wireless systems on the market today are completely do it yourself. You would simply take the alarm sensors and place them wherever you wish (using some very easy to install sticky pads), connect the key pad and the call the company to have everything turned on and activated. Everything is programmed ahead of time, so there is no configuration which needs to be performed. The wireless system uses a secure cellular network to communicate with the monitoring company. This is a different network than a typical cell phone operates on. This means that in a time of crisis, your system will still work properly.

    Another factor to consider is cost. The new wireless systems now are actually less expensive than a hard wired system. Even in some rare case where the prices are close or similar, you should also consider the cost of having it installed. This can add a significant expense onto the entire process and definitely tip the decision in favor of wireless.

    The only real negative in terms of a wireless system is that it may be more sensitive. In some cases, this can lead to the system setting off some false alarms. However, this is more of a minor issue, and there are ways around it. For example, you could have specific instructions given to the monitoring company that they are to call whenever an alarm is tripped. This way, you have the opportunity to confirm or verify the situation before the authorities are contacted.

  • #1476 Reply

    a seeker of security

    As a professional alarm installer with over 25 years of experience, I can tell you with 100% certainty that wireless alarm sensors are NOT BETTER than hard-wired alarm sensors.

    The ONLY advantages that wireless devices have is that they are EASIER to install than hard-wired and are convenient LIFE-SAVERS for areas or surfaces that are hard to pass alarm wires to (such as a stone wall of a heritage home).

    The “arguments” that are being presented here are unfounded. In all honesty, some of these “informed comments” are a complete joke.

    To state that a wireless sensor has “an advantage over a hard-wired sensor” because the wireless sensor will be on its own zone is absolute RUBBISH. A hard-wired sensor, such as a door contact, CAN be placed on its own unique zone. A door contact DOES NOT have to be combined with any other contacts.

    How is this “fact” an advantage? I can’t believe that an alarm company in Florida made THIS statement.

    Today’s modern 32-zone alarm panel comes out of the box with 8 hard-wire zones but with the ability to include an additional 24 wireless sensors, each on its own zone (if you use the 8 hard-wired zones).

    You’ll run out of hard-wired zones faster than the wireless ones, before you have to spend additional money to purchase a hard-wired zone expansion module for an extra 8 zones.

    But, if you do use 16 hard-wired zones, you can only use 16 wireless zones since it’s a total of 32-zones on the panel. To save money and avoid purchasing a hard-wire zone expander module, some installers will group more hard-wired devices onto the same zones.

    But the alarm installer can’t put TWO wireless sensors onto the same zone. Perhaps this is what the company in Florida meant to say.

    Please IGNORE some of the comments being posted here by uninformed readers: What is all this CRAP with “the truth about cutting wires” and “the devastation caused by a hard-wired security system installation”?

    I install hard-wired systems every week in older homes, without touch-up repainting afterwards, and you can’t tell (or even see) that alarm wires were passed AFTER the home’s construction.

    I have clients with 25-year old security systems which have NEVER had a problem. All of the original equipment (door contacts, motion detectors) is still working perfectly. The ONLY thing that was replaced over the years was the rechargeable back-up battery.

    ALL hard-wired alarm equipment and sensors are protected by a back-up battery, so the "information” offered here about "cutting wires to disable hard-wired equipment by eliminating their power supply” is complete and utter NONSENSE.

    In actual FACT, hard-wired alarm equipment can be supervised for tampering, electrical shorts or cut wires. This means that even if the alarm panel is NOT ARMED, you'll STILL be notified if there is something wrong with the wiring of your hard-wired equipment.

    If you’re referring to cutting the hard-wired telephone line used for transmitting alarm signals, this is an entirely DIFFERENT matter. Hard-wired alarm equipment and sensors CAN use wireless transmission means, such as a radio or cellular communicator, to transmit their alarm signals to the monitoring station so that there are NO LINES to cut which stop communication.

    Let me help end this “discussion” by pointing out the legitimate advantages to HARD-WIRED alarm sensors:

    Hard-wired equipment is MUCH smaller and more esthetic than wireless sensors, which are larger and bulkier since they have to contain batteries.

    As correctly pointed out in another comment, replacing lithium batteries for wireless equipment adds to the overall purchase price of your wireless alarm system. If you factor in the battery replacement cost over a 15 year period, this will usually pay for a professional to install the hard-wired equipment for you at the onset.

    Let’s say that you replace each wireless sensor battery once every three years at a cost of $10.00 per battery. Remember that some wireless sensors require more than battery. However, replacing just 10 wireless batteries in your security system every three years over a 15 year period is an additional $ 500.00 to the initial purchase price.

    It’s a $100.00 maintenance cost every three years (10 batteries at $10.00 a pop).

    Alarm companies that offer lifetime battery replacement have INCLUDED this additional cost into their alarm monitoring and service rates. It’s NOT being offered for “free”.

    Let’s examine purchase and replacement costs of wireless sensors:

    The equipment cost (no labor or installation) of a wireless motion detector is at least DOUBLE that of a hard-wired motion detector. The cost of a wireless door contact is over FIVE TIMES the cost of a hard-wired door contact.

    Factor this data into your overall alarm system cost, especially if you will be REPLACING any DEFECTIVE wireless devices in the future.

    Let’s turn the examination to security and reliability:

    Unlike wireless, hard-wired sensors CANNOT be affected by RF radio frequency, jammers, cross-talk from other wireless devices or any metal objects such as a fridge being moved about inside the house.

    Contrary to what is being presented here, wireless alarm devices CANNOT "just be installed anywhere".

    Before I install a wireless sensor, I first perform a WIRELESS PLACEMENT TEST, to ensure that the device can function in that location. I have to TEST that the wireless sensor CAN communicate with the alarm control panel from that SPECIFIC location in the home.

    If the wireless sensor fails the test, it MUST be installed ELSEWHERE. Therefore, wireless sensors are NOT “peel and stick” as everyone here is claiming.

    However, I can install hard-wired equipment ANYWHERE that I can pass a wire to.

    If you're looking for which alarm equipment is BETTER and LESS EXPENSIVE to install and operate over a 15 year period, there is only ONE ANSWER: HARD-WIRE.

    I can replace a 30-year old hard-wired motion detector with ANY HARD-WIRED motion detector available on the market today, from ANY alarm manufacturer.

    Since EACH alarm manufacturer's wireless sensors ALL operate on a different radio frequency (you CANNOT switch brands, meaning a Paradox wireless motion detector will NOT WORK with a DSC or Honeywell alarm panel), let’s just keep our fingers crossed that wireless equipment will be available for YOUR alarm panel, on your frequency, in 25 years from now.

    Excuse the pun, but the security industry is introducing new technologies at an ALARMING rate.

    I can only hope that consumer demand requires alarm manufacturers to continue to support older versions of their equipment which become out-dated sooner, rather than later. We all know how well THAT thought is working out with personal computers and software, don’t we?

    I believe that I've answered why it is HARD-WIRED (not wireless) which is BETTER. Hard-wired alarm equipment is the FIRST CHOICE for TRUE alarm professionals. With the price of competition today, there are numerous alarm companies installing hard-wired for the same price as wireless.

    However, be wary of some “professionals”:

    I actually saw a home that was pre-wired during its construction for a hard-wired alarm system, and then some fly-by-night idiot company installed a wireless security system. Why would anyone with half a brain install a surface mount, visible wireless sensor box and require the homeowner to spend money for YEARS to come changing batteries, when the door was ALREADY prewired for an invisible, concealed, recessed and INEXPENSIVE hard-wired door contact?

    Personally, I ONLY install wireless equipment where it is next to IMPOSSIBLE to pass alarm wiring. I use a hybrid alarm panel, which allows the addition of both hard-wired and wireless sensors.

    I’m the type of guy that prefers to do things properly and ONCE. After I’ve installed a hard-wired sensor, I walk away.

    The truth of the matter is that wireless alarm equipment is more PRACTICAL for the average homeowner to install. Any security professionals who are promoting wireless sensors as being “BETTER” than hard-wired are usually the same ones promoting self-installation by their clients.

    Here’s a hint: these companies reach out to more clients, at less cost, by having the client install the alarm equipment themselves. The client buys into this arrangement because of their motivation to save money by not paying for installation.

    However, in the long run, the client is NOT SAVING MONEY.

    If consumers would be willing to spend just a little more money UPFRONT to have a professional install hard-wired security equipment, they’ll easily recoup their investment in the long run.

    If the client is seeking low upfront cost, there are a lot of alarm companies to look at. If the client is looking at the total investment cost over a 10-year period for a security system, there are other choices and considerations that need to be made.

    While I do recommend and endorse wireless alarm equipment in certain conditions, especially for self-installation by a home-owner, please put an end to this completely stupid and ridiculous "debate" over which one is BETTER.

    Ask yourself this question instead: Why is so much time and energy being spent to convince you of something that just isn’t true? Aren’t you happy that wireless sensors are EASY for any homeowner to install? Do they have to be BETTER than hard-wired, because that may never happen?

    Until wireless sensors recharge themselves automatically, there will always be the cost and inconvenience of having to replace batteries.

    There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with wireless alarm sensors and I do use them. But they’re not BETTER than hard-wired sensors, in every sense of the definition of the word “BETTER”.

  • #1470 Reply

    Hard Wired

    I totally agree with Professional Installer's opinion. 

    Can anyone recommend a good company out there that can accommodate an existing hard wired (sensors) system? It seems everyone is pushing wireless sensors.

    Our home was built in '02 and pre-wired for an alarm system. ADT was the first system we had installed. Their control panel worked great. We knew exactly which window or door was ajar when we went to arm the system.

    However, in 2004 we switched to VOIP for our home phone and canceled our land line phone service. It was then I realized that our old ADT system depended on a land (telephone) line to communicate with the monitoring center.

    Since then we've had two different salespeople promise us how great it was going to be, but each time the newer systems was not as flexible nor informative as the original, by letting us know which door or window we left open when trying to arm the system before leaving.

    Thanks in advance for your input.

  • #1473 Reply

    an alarm professional

    It is not normal for a professional alarm installing company to have to swap out a client's alarm panel because the client cannot easily determine which door or window has been left open. This is either a bad choice of product for the particular client, or poor (or no) instruction by the alarm installer on the use of the alarm system.

    Another issue that needs to be looked at is the communication format to send signals to your monitoring station. Most alarm panels have difficulty using VOIP to transmit signals.

    Therefore, VOIP is not a very secure or reliable means of transmitting alarm signals. I would suggest that you consider an internet connection or use a wireless communicator, such as cellular or radio.

    If you cannot resolve your issues with your current alarm company, seek out a smaller, local alarm company in your area that prides itself on service and attention to detail.

    They will provide you with an alarm panel that is very easy for you to use and they will spend the time necessary with you to make sure that you understand your new alarm system properly. Also, they will install an alarm system that is compatible with all known communication formats, which means that you will never have to swap out your alarm system in the future.

    The choice of quality hard-wired alarm panels that will accommodate your needs include DSC, Ademco / Honeywell and Paradox, to name a few.

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