Wired vs. Wireless Home Security Systems
Wired vs. Wireless Home Security Systems

Home security systems have evolved in leaps and bounds over the past decade. Wireless home security systems used to be seen as the inferior younger sibling to the wired systems, but recent technology has changed all that. Find out the upsides of going wireless.

The Control Unit of Wireless Home Security Systems

  • The control unit is the "brain" of the home security system. It receives signals from the switches and triggers the alarm.
  • The control unit can be powered by mains or battery. Some can be fed by mains with the battery for back-up power. This back-up battery will automatically recharge when power is regained.
  • The control unit may have the capability to dial the phone number of a security company or nominated neighbor.

The Switches

Switches are magnetic devices fitted to frame and casement of a window or door (there are other options, but this is most common). When the window or door is opened, the circuit is broken and the alarm triggered. All windows and doors must be closed when the alarm system is armed.

The Alarm in a Wireless Home Security System

Most alarms are sirens and serve as noisy deterrents, so you'll want to make sure the alarm you choose is loud enough. Anything below 95 decibels can't be heard over distance. Most sirens sound for 20 minutes then shut off. Some alarms are connected to a monitoring service via phone line, and some external sirens also incorporate a bright flashing strobe light.

Wireless Home Security Panic Button

This is a manually operated button, similar to a car remote (or key fob). The panic button can be placed by the bedside, couch, or wherever it's needed so that the user can trigger the alarm whether or not the rest of the system is on.

Wired Home Security Systems

Wired home security systems need to have a 'closed' electrical circuit, meaning that when the alarm is turned on the circuit is completed. If there is any interference (such as the wires being cut) the alarm will go off. These systems require wires to be run from the control panel to each sensor.

While wired home security systems offer maximum reliability and are generally less expensive, they are probably not a great DIY option. Determining how to run the wires in an attractive way that's difficult for burglars to defeat is tricky and time consuming.

Wireless Home Security Systems

Wireless home security systems can be a great DIY option. They're battery powered, which means no complicated wiring is involved, and transmit a radio signal to the control unit in order to trigger the alarm. Many wireless alarm systems can be armed using a remote key fob witch that doubles as a mobile panic alarm, and some systems offer a repeater unit, increasing transmission range so that outbuildings can be protected on the system.

Wireless home security cameras, on the other hand, are not always the best use of your money. Wireless cameras run on batteries and guzzle power; most batteries will only provide 24 hours of power to the camera. Another potential drawback to wireless home security systems is that most don't have the ability to be connected to a telephone land line.

That means that if you're looking to establish a relationship with a monitoring system, you'll have to go with a cellular compatible system.