Hard-wired VS Wireless Home Security Systems

Which is better?  Hard-wired home security systems or wireless ones?  Let's take a look:

Hard-wired systems are believed to be a better option than wireless ones, but this popular belief is probably triggered by the fact that a neat network of wires creates a better impression of safety and security by giving you something visible and concrete to look at.

Hard-wired systems can be inconvenient to install, so it’s best to opt for them if you’re in the process of building your home. This is usually referred to as pre-wiring. Pre-wiring also includes installing additional outlets at strategic points for later use. Install several outlets even if you aren’t planning to use them all at once, because you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble later. 

You can also opt for standard sensors at spots where you’d like to upgrade your system later. Alternatively, you could just set up the wires and cover them up with a panel, which will work out to only $0.25 per panel. Installing ‘standard’ sensors essentially means that you put in individual sensors that are not linked to your security network, but function autonomously. These can be connected to your system quickly and easily if they’re already installed. While setting up your hard-wired system, you also have the added advantage of fixing smoke/fire detectors and alarms at the same time. 

Since it takes more technical expertise to install a wired system than a wireless one, it’s best to opt for a hard-wired system only if you’re having your system installed by the dealer. In terms of maintenance, hard wired systems have more visible components that need to be routinely opened up and checked. On the other hand, operators who offer wireless services often claim that their batteries will last for two decades without having to be changed, and that the system works itself once installed. This is hardly likely.

Wireless systems do have fewer tangible parts that need to be replaced, but you need to be prepared to service your wireless system a lot more often than is advertised. In terms of maintenance, therefore, there isn’t much to choose from between hard-wired and wireless systems. Also, since wired systems work on electricity, there is no chance that you’ll run out of batteries when you’re expecting it least!

Both the advantage and disadvantage of wireless systems is that they’re usually state-of-the-art, and built with the latest technology. While this gives you the latest in home security, it is also likely to become obsolete very quickly.

Hard-wired systems are based on old-fashioned wiring, which may not seem as attractive as wireless systems at first glance, but which are less likely to having you running from pillar to post in search of a component that they don’t manufacture any more.

When installing your own system, you would do better with a wireless system rather than a hard-wired one, unless you’re in the process of constructing your house and can afford the inconvenience of drilling and boring. A word of caution, though: wireless systems work on radio frequencies, and are notorious for triggering false alarms. A passing police car can trigger your alarm, and you will never discover why it went off, even if you rewire the whole system. Unfortunately, many hard-wired systems are susceptible to this kind of failure as well. Hard-wired systems also cost less than wireless ones, although the latter are undoubtedly more easy to install. With a wireless system, you need to install only one cable from your central receiver to your alarm system.

While having your system installed by the dealer, it’s best to opt for a wired system. Many popular dealers like Ademco and ITI prefer wireless systems, perhaps for the ease with which they can be installed. However, there are some areas – such as houses with prefabricated or molded structures – which will not accept wiring, and will have to be covered with wireless access. Also, if you live in an antique home, you might not want to disturb the masonry. Most wired fittings are completely concealed, but if you’re a purist, you’ll know they’re there! 

There are advantages and disadvantages to both systems. The wireless system is not more prone to failure because of its intrinsic reliance on radio frequencies, but rather because it simply has more parts to it, and therefore more things that could go wrong.