Are Wired or Wireless Home Security Systems Better?

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There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but here's the gist: Wired security systems have more reliable signals, whereas wireless systems provide a more streamlined installation and can be used in places where wired systems can’t.

We'll clarify what wired and wireless really mean and help you find a system that matches your expectations.

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Best wired system
ADT Shield
4 out of 5 stars
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Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Best wireless system
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Info current as of publish date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Defining wired vs. wireless systems

"Wired or wireless" can refer to three different things:

  1. How the sensors communicate with the control panel
  2. How the control panel communicates with the monitoring center
  3. How the equipment gets its power

1. How the sensors communicate with the control panel

  • A wireless security system uses sensors that communicate with the control panel using radio frequency technology.
  • A hardwired alarm system connects the sensors to the control panel with a network of wires concealed within the walls and floors of your home.

2. How the control panel communicates with the monitoring center

  • A wireless control panel communicates with the monitoring center using a cellular connection.
  • A wired control panel uses your home’s telephone line or Ethernet cable to connect to the monitoring center.

3. How the equipment gets its power

  • Wireless equipment is battery operated. 
  • Wired equipment plugs into a standard wall outlet or is hardwired into your home's electrical system.

A fully wired system is rare

Most modern security systems are fully wireless except for a plug-in control panel. Plug-in security cameras are also common.

Fully wired security systems are relatively rare. In fact, only two of our top ten home security picks offer a landline option: ADT and Blue by ADT.

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How can I tell what type of system a security company is advertising?

When a home security company advertises its "wireless" system, it's usually referring to that second definition: cellular vs. landline data transmissions to the monitoring center. 

If a security company requires pro installation, there may be hardwiring involved. 

Pros and cons of a wireless home security system

Wireless pros
pro No holes in the wall
pro DIY installation
pro Portable
pro Immune to power outages
Wireless cons
con Possible signal interference
con Battery maintenance

With a wireless system, you won’t have to worry about drilling holes or making other modifications, so wireless is an attractive option for renters, historic homes, or buildings with significant interior brick, stone, or marble construction.

Renters or homeowners will also be able to keep most wireless systems when moving.

The potential drawback of wireless is its reliability. Just like Wi-Fi routers or cellphones, wireless security systems are subject to various types of interference that can cause your sensor to fail to respond or to respond unpredictably (for example, triggering a false alarm).

  • Electromagnetic interference can come from many other devices, including baby monitors, remote controls, power lines, microwave ovens, and fluorescent lighting.
  • Structural interference comes from walls, floors, ceilings, or things like metal filing cabinets. However, these issues are rare.

To help counter potential issues, each wireless sensor contains its own battery, which works great, especially in a power outage. Just make sure you stay on top of changing out your batteries so you know they’re always operating at peak performance.

Visit our wireless home security systems page to compare top brands and packages.

Pros and cons of a wired home security system

Wired pros
pro No signal interference
pro No battery maintenance
Wired cons
con Pro installation typically costs extra
con Susceptible to power outages
con Not portable
con Must cut into walls to access wires

Wired security systems aren't susceptible to electromagnetic or structural interference, so the signals are more reliable. 

They require virtually no upkeep because there are no batteries to swap out or charge. You also won't end up with an unexpected power failure from poor battery life.

On the other hand, hardwired systems require professional installation, and that's usually an extra charge above and beyond what you pay for the equipment and monthly monitoring. The installer will need to cut into your walls to access wires, which may not be possible if you rent.

Finally, wired systems will shut down during a power failure. Most have backup batteries, but cellular backup often costs extra.

Looking for a security system?

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Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Read full disclaimer.
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Cathy Habas
Written by
Cathy Habas
With over eight years of experience as a content writer, Cathy has a knack for untangling complex information. Her natural curiosity and ability to empathize help Cathy offer insightful, friendly advice. She believes in empowering readers who may not feel confident about a purchase, project, or topic. Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University Southeast and began her professional writing career immediately after graduation. She is a certified Safe Sleep Ambassador and has contributed to sites like,, Hunker, and Thumbtack. Cathy’s pride and joy is her Appaloosa “Chacos.” She also likes to crochet while watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.

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