There’s no shortage of controversy over the topic of a hard wired security system versus a wireless home security system. My stance on the topic is that there is no absolute answer; each has their own strengths and weaknesses. I do believe that there is a right installation for every circumstance, but figuring out what the best trade-off between ease of installation, installation costs, and reliability can be tough to figure out. Let’s take a look at each system and compare them…
Ease of Home Security Installation
Bottom line up front, wireless systems win this argument hands down in all situations, but wired home security can come close in under one condition: a new house that is built with a pre-wired home alarm or wired security system. That means that during construction wires are run to windows, doors, and any other place the homeowner would like to have a home security sensor in. When the time comes to install a new wired security system, all that needs to be done is locating the wires and connecting the sensors. A professional will know to terminate all of these runs in a central location where the main panel can be installed. But remember, an alarm system installation costs home security companies money and they’ll be more than happy to pass this cost on to you.
However, don’t think that a prewired house makes a wired installation easier than the wireless one. Wireless components and sensors still take the cake. Realistically, a handy homeowner could have an average sized house hooked up with wireless sensors in an afternoon. With inset sensors, maybe a solid day’s worth of work.
With a great convenience comes the higher price tag. I think that’s a universal law. So it stands to reason that a wireless component will generally cost more than an equivalent wired sensor. And, if you think about it from the standpoint that a wireless security sensor has to have more complex circuitry than a wired security sensor, it should cost the manufacturer more to produce it, as well.
If you keep your eyes open, though, you can find wireless home security door and window sensors on sale for about the same price as their hard-wired counterparts. So if you’re not in a hurry, do some window shopping with the various online security stores and see what you can find. I certainly recommend buying the same brand and model of sensor for similar applications, though. That is, if you’re putting in 6 window sensors, buy 6 of the same kind.
So up till now we have a 1 to 1 tie between a wireless and a wired home security system installations. Wireless is easier to install, but costs more. Wired is more difficult and time consuming to install, but is also less expensive. And that brings us to reliability, the toughest of the three topics.
We can look at this argument from several angles. The first is that wireless components need batteries and are inherently less reliably because of that. You have to keep monitoring the batteries in your sensors because if they run out, you’re no longer protected. The flip side to this is that wireless sensors draw less power from the panel’s backup battery system, so in a power outage situation they’re actually MORE reliable.
Wireless Signal Strength Considerations
The issue of signal strength also comes into question, that being a sensor in a remote part of your house may not have the power to reach the panel. There are ways to mitigate this problem, though, such as signal repeaters and centrally locating your main panel.
All in all, I would say that there are pluses and minuses to the reliability of both wired and wireless installations, and you have to decide for yourself what you’re more comfortable with. For my money, with today’s technology, I trust a wireless home security installation just as much as any wired system, out-there.