If you look at the basics of any home security system, the components of an alarm system are essentially the same: an alarm control panel, a keypad user interface, door/window door sensors, motion detectors and possibly even glass break detectors. The primary difference between systems that often leaves homeowners and apartment renters wondering what type of system to choose is “should I be installing a hardwired alarm system or a wireless system?” Let’s take a closer look at wired security alarm systems.
Wired security systems involve connecting the alarm’s control panel (the device that is used to contact the authorities in case of an emergency) to the alarm sensors (door/window sensors, motion detectors, etc.) via a direct wire – much like your light switch is directly connected to your ceiling lights. The wires that are connecting the detecting devices are concealed behind walls, under floorboards – again just like your home’s electrical wiring. Your keypad still acts as the interface used to activate/deactivate your system.
You’ll have a distinct advantage with a wired security system if you have a home or apartment that is pre-wired for a security system during the construction phase. That is, during the construction of your home or apartment, the builder has installed all of the necessary wiring to your doors and windows wherein your home security system installer can just install the sensors and control panel to the already installed wires.
Sensors are often less expensive because they do not need any radio frequency (RF) electronics to send signals to the keypad/control panel (this is the case when you have a wireless alarm system). Also, the sensors are constantly powered via the control panel, so you won’t have to worry about changing batteries (again, the case when you have a wireless alarm system).
Another advantage to a wired system is that it is less prone to getting affected by interference by electronic devices or by distance between devices. Because wireless systems have to communicate via RF signals, they may be affected by appliances like microwaves and some other wireless devices like wireless internet signals – as well as signal weakness due to distance and obstacles between the sensors and the keypad.
If your home or apartment is not pre-wired, the cost will generally be higher for a hardwired security alarm system because of the additional wires that need to be installed within your home. In addition to this, a wired system is not as expandable as a wireless system because if you’d like to add more sensors to your system, you’ll have to run new wires in your house which will again raise installation costs.
Also, if you plan to move out of your home you can’t exactly take your system with you. Surely you can take the individual components (control panel, keypad, sensors, etc.), but you’ll have to re-endure the cost of a wired installation.
Another disadvantage to a wired system is that a clever thief may be able to bypass alarm sensors which could render the sensor useless and create a vulnerable point in your security system. However, this kind of event is occurring with less frequency compared with the past, primarily because of the advancement of tamper-proof devices and sensors.
Wired Security System Advantages:
• Prewired houses/apartments enable easy and less expensive installations
• Less expensive equipment and constantly powered sensors (no batteries)
• Less signal interference and no weakness of signal strength due to distance
Wired Security System Disadvantages:
• Non-prewired houses will incur more installation costs
• Harder to expand, less flexible for moving
• Wires may be bypassed by smart thieves
In our next blog post, we’ll review wireless security systems and discuss which solution is best for you and your family.