Whether a wired or wireless security system is better will depend on what you need from a security system. Hardwired alarm systems have an edge on reliability, while wireless systems provide a more streamlined installation and can be used in places where wired systems can’t.
So what makes a system wired or wireless? A home security system’s network of sensors, along with the control panel, connect and communicate with the outside world via either a cellular or landline connection.
More specifically, a fully wireless system uses individual sensors throughout the home that communicate wirelessly to the central control panel, typically using radio frequency technology. The control panel will then communicate wirelessly to the outside world using a cellular uplink. Essentially, your system will have a cellphone of its own. On the other hand, a fully hardwired alarm system connects the sensors to the control panel with a network of wires (concealed within the walls and floors of your home) and then to the outside world using your home’s telephone line.
A security system can be both hardwired and wireless. That means the system can have either a wireless sensor network and control panel with a hardwired landline connection—or hardwired sensors with a control panel connected to the outside world via a cellular connection. The most common setup combines the two, with a hardwired telephone line as the primary connection and a cellular backup in case the phone lines go down (or are cut). But these days, not all homes have an active landline.
Within the home, the advantages and disadvantages of wired versus wireless security systems come down to two issues: installation concerns and performance differences.