Security Alarm System explained

Security alarm systems explained – How to protect your family and belongings

Chose the right security alarm system to protect your property and family

Wired vs. Wireless security systems explained…

Wired Security systems

What security alarm system is right for me? This question comes up a lot when people are looking into a security system for their home or business. The answer can depend on quite a few factors though. 

In the first part of this article, I’ll go over some of the pros and cons of wired security systems, and under what conditions they might be your best choice. In the second section, I’ll highlight the same factors for a wireless system so that you can compare both and make a decision that will work for your situation.

First, I’ll go over some of the main reasons you may want to choose a wired system for your situation.

Wired System Pros

– Hardware for a wired security alarm system is typically more basic than wireless, which in turn makes it more affordable. In wireless hardware, there are radio frequency transmitters that send signals to your system if there is an event. This event could be the opening/closing of a door, a motion detector sensing movement, or a smoke detector being triggered, among many other possibilities.

– Wired devices are very reliable. There is a wire running directly from the device to your control panel and as long as the wire and device are in good condition, the device is good to go and signals can be sent and received. With wireless devices, there can be communication signal issues between the device and its wireless receiver. 

Some examples of this interference can come from: Solid concrete floors and walls, runs of metal duct work and large metal appliances(i.e. your furnace) . Although its quite rare to have any issues in a residential home, It’s still a good idea to have as clear a line of sight as possible from your devices to the wireless receiver. These possibilities need to be thought out ahead of time so that you don’t run into any issues after installation.

– Wired devices require very little upkeep. These devices are wired directly into the main panel and are constantly powered. With wireless devices, you will have to change batteries every 3-5 years depending on how often your hardware is used.

While there are many positive aspects to installing a wired system, you should also be aware of the limitations as well. Some of the main reasons you may not want to install a wired system are:

Wired System Cons

– If you are looking to install a security alarm system in a finished building, you may have trouble running wires where you’d like them to be. Be prepared to drill holes in the walls and flooring to get cables to their proper locations. If you have an unfinished or drop ceiling area of the basement, or are planning on using the attic, there are tools that make running cable through the walls much easier. 

If you do plan on tackling a job like this, I would recommend familiarizing yourself with some of the tips and tricks to do this properly without doing any noticeable damage. It’s not impossible, but having a finished building to deal with when installing a wired system does have its share of headaches that come up and need to be thought through.

– Another thing to consider when deciding whether a wired system is right for you, is how long you plan on staying in the building you are installing the system in. Compared to a wireless system, installing a wired system usually involves doing more damage to the building, in the form of drilling holes and mounting hardware. 

A wireless system is quite easy to install and then take with you if you decide to move. On the other hand, a wired system usually leaves you with noticeable holes and some repair work may be required to get everything looking back to normal.

After reading the pros and cons of a wired system, hopefully you have a better understanding of what to expect when it comes time to choose what system to go with.


Wireless security systems

The following are some reasons you may decide to go with a wireless system.

Wireless System Pros

– One of the main reasons many people decide to go with a wireless system is because where they want to install the system, is finished. When I say finished, I mean that the walls are closed and it would be very difficult to run wiring back to the control panel from where they want the devices. There are ways to run wiring without it being seen, like using a closet, attic, or taking baseboards off to fish cable up the walls, but even those are sometimes not possible for certain locations.

– Another positive that wireless systems have going for them, is that it is easy to extend the signal using hardware like repeater units to greatly improve range distance of devices from the receiver. There are also newer systems, like the DSC Neo line, that have wireless ranges of up to 2 kilometres, or 1.24 miles line of sight.

– Something else that many people don’t think about, is how easy it is to install a wireless system, and then be able to remove it and take it along when they move. There’s no need run any wiring when it is being installed in a new location, and if you need to add additional devices, then it’s just a matter of doing a bit of hardware mounting and programming to get things running again.

– The last thing I’ll mention, is that you really don’t need to be an expert to get a wireless security system installed and programmed by yourself. If you can use a drill and follow some basic instructions, then you shouldn’t have too much of an issue. These systems and separate devices come with instructions and a programming booklet. 

There are also many resources online, like the training section and in-depth course on this site. Youtube and various security message boards and blogs are also good resources where you can ask questions and get responses.  Our Full Security Course also goes through everything in detail to make your install painless.

Those are just a few of the many positives of installing a wireless system. Next, I’d like to highlight a few of the reasons why you may decide against one for your situation.

Wireless System Cons

There is some additional upkeep involved with these systems. The batteries in your devices will need to be changed from time to time, depending on usage. You can typically get somewhere between 3-5 years out of your batteries before you need to change them, but it does all depend how often they are used. There are newer systems, like the DSC Neo line, that claim up to 8 years of usage for the batteries in many of their devices.

Since these systems are using wireless signals that are passed from the devices to the receiver, there is the possibility of the signals being impaired for multiple reasons. It’s rare, but I’ve seen issues with signal loss trying to get through thick cement or concrete walls and floors, as well as sheet metal and duct work affecting the system. These are things that need to be planned out ahead of time, to ensure you have as direct a line of sight as possible from the devices to receiver location.  

Cost is something to consider when looking at wireless security systems. Their devices contain radio frequency transmitters and are more expensive that basic wired devices. The prices have come down quite a bit and the quality has improved since they were first introduced, but it is still a big factor for many people.

Technicians note: Whenever I’m doing a system quote at a potential customers home or business, it’s important to try to find a way to get a cable from the panel to the keypad. Even if you have to hide the wire in the corner of a closet, or take a baseboard off to drill into the basement and then fish up the inside of the wall to the keypad location. 

The reason that’s important is because it can really cut down on the cost of a system. There are models of keypads that have built in wireless receivers, like the DSC RFK keypads, which communicate with all your devices and then send the data down the cable to the panel. There is no need to install a more expensive completely wireless battery powered keypad, which communicates with a wireless transceiver next to the panel, which then passes the data to the panel.

I hope you gained some insight into what you may want to be thinking about if you’re looking for a security system for your home or business.

Recommended hardware:

There are many brands on the market, although I personally only install DSC Security hardware for our clients homes and businesses.  There are some solid companies on the market though, like Honeywell, DMP, and others who have good reputations.  Whoever you chose to go with, make sure that they are reputable and have a good track record in case you run into issues and need technical support or a return.

Check out our training videos and articles that go over many different aspects of home security to help keep your belongings safe.

Also, check out our Shop, where we have the equipment you’ll need to get a professional system set-up for a fraction of the price.

Let me know below if you have any questions or comments!


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