There are two different types of equipment and monitoring for home security systems: wired and wireless. Security systems that use wired equipment have been around the longest—they are hardwired into a home’s electrical system and sometimes its landline. However, security systems that use wireless equipment and monitoring are becoming more popular because of their flexibility to install, use, upgrade, and move.
Here are the pros and cons of each type of home security system.
Pros of Wired Security Systems
- Reliable Monitoring. Because wired systems don’t rely on sensors that communicate through radio frequency, they are extremely reliable. As long as the wiring isn’t damaged, or the phone line isn’t snipped, wired monitoring systems are less likely to fail than wireless models.
- Easy-to-Maintain Equipment. After a professional does the initial setup of a wired system, homeowners don’t need to worry about the added maintenance of regular battery changes.
- Ideal for Large Spaces. Systems that use wired equipment can handle more sensors than wireless systems. They can also span between multiple buildings on one property.
- Less Vulnerable to Hacking. Wired equipment is much harder to hack than wireless equipment—someone would have to physically connect to a wired system to access it.
- Favored by Professionals. Hardwired alarm system connections are generally preferred by corporations because of their reliability, security, and consistency.
- Rich in Features. Only wired systems offer control panels in multiple rooms and top-of-the-line units with high-definition video surveillance.
Cons of Wired Security Systems
- More Expensive to Install. Professionals generally install wired security equipment, which can result in expensive installation fees. Installing wired systems is difficult and involves connecting sensors with low-voltage wires that are inside walls, so holes must be drilled.
- More Vulnerable. Burglars know that if they want to disable a wired security system, they can simply cut the phone lines outside the house.
- Permanent. Wired security system equipment is a pain to uninstall. Some security companies don’t recommend moving wired systems and may refuse to install old equipment in a new location.
- Controlled from Only One Location. The security system control panel is the heart of your unit, and wired systems are armed and disarmed from only the main control panel—unlike wireless systems that can be remotely operated. Homes with more than one story may need separate control panels on each floor.
Pros of Wireless Security Systems
- Installed Quickly. Equipment installation is easy with a wireless system because there is no drilling or tricky wiring. In most cases, wireless systems are DIY, which eliminates costly installation fees.
- Easily Removed. Because there are no wires to rip out of walls or professionals to call for uninstallation, wireless system equipment is incredibly easy to remove. This is especially beneficial for renters who can move their alarm systems to new living areas without fear of damaging their rental units.
- Wireless. This may seem like a given, but wireless systems offer extra protection because they don’t have phone lines to cut that would quickly disable the alarm system.
- Simply Modified. Wireless system equipment is easily upgradable and modifiable because it isn’t hardwired. These systems allow you to move and add additional sensors. Techies who like to tinker with their electronics will crave the flexibility of wireless systems.
- Remotely Accessible. A wireless system’s equipment includes a remote key fob that arms and disarms the system and can trigger the panic button. These systems communicate wirelessly using cellular technology, so you can activate these functions from a mobile device. This is incredibly convenient: with remote access, you won’t have to continually go to the security system’s control panel to set basic functions.
- Capable of Home Automation. A wireless alarm system easily syncs to other home automation features, and tech-lovers especially desire the flexibility of wireless systems because modifications and upgrades are easy projects to tackle. A wireless home security package could also include automation highlights, like smart lights, smart locks, and a smart thermostat.
Cons of Wireless Security Systems
- Vulnerable to Interference. Though very uncommon, wireless security systems are susceptible to interference—just like Wi-Fi randomly disconnects or cellphones can’t find signals. Whether the interference is electromagnetic through remote controls or power lines, or structural through walls or metal filing cabinets, there are several things can cause a sensor’s radio frequency communication to fail.
- Battery Operated. Wireless systems often run on batteries, so you must periodically check the battery life of the sensors and devices.
- Limited in Distance. Wireless system devices have sensor limitations, so they’re best for small- to medium-sized homes. Their open-air range is generally up to 500 feet.
- At Risk of Hacking. Burglars can hack into wireless security systems, jamming the signals so the alarm won’t set off. Carefully review the security of the wireless system you want to purchase. Some wireless systems fail to encrypt or authenticate signals sent from the access point sensors—like on windows—to the main control panel. If you use a wireless system, enable encryption on your router and protect your Wi-Fi with a strong password.
There are a lot of features to review before committing to a wired or wireless security system. Check out the top home security providers to see which system best suits your needs.