This is an ever-growing debate within the security alarm industry; both sides have their opinions as I have mine. Since starting KeepSafe Systems, I have never installed a wireless security system. There are several reasons starting from appearance, reliability and sustainability to never having the need to and always finding a way to get a wire where it is needed.
Wires are Hidden
Appearance is a large concern of many homeowners. Although transmitters have gotten smaller over the years, wireless security systems involve the installation of boxy transmitters around your doors and windows. Wireless security system supporters will often tell horror stories of holes drilled throughout your home or wires stapled all over your walls. Yes, I have seen these types of installations, for the most part, they are done by inexperienced or lazy technicians who prefer wireless security systems. Although some wire runs can be difficult and very occasionally require surface runs, there is no excuse for sloppy workmanship. Pick your security alarm installer very carefully; often the small business owner will take more care in ensuring the quality of the installation.
Reliability in Wires vs Industry Jargon
When it comes to the reliability of security systems, hardwire will always be the more reliable of the two. Wireless security alarm supporters of course will say “modern wireless security systems are supervised”, basically this is passing over the pitfalls of the technology and adding a feature to tell you when the technology fails. In reality, hardwired devices are supervised 24/7, wireless systems only do periodic checks on wireless detectors, if a wireless detector were to "check in" constantly, the batteries would last a week or less.
Longer lifespan = Less Environmental Waste
Sustainability is potentially the least addressed but most important disadvantage of Wireless Security Alarm Systems over the much more reliable hardwire security systems. I can’t even begin to count the changes in wireless security technology and frequencies used since getting into the business back in the late 80’s early 90’s. Even the wireless security system supporters will tell you technology is always changing (Except they use the word “advancing" as it sounds better in advertising). So how do wireless security system “advancements” affect the owner of a wireless security system?If you have a security alarm installed in 2006, as an example, and you wanted to upgrade to a newer model with Smart Phone App access and maybe even home automation features. In the case of a hardwired security alarm system you would simply need to replace the main control panel and possibly the keypads. Since hardwire security alarm detectors are generally universal, the existing door Window contacts, Motion Detectors, Smoke Detectors etc would work with pretty much any hardwired control panel, regardless of the brand. In contrast, wireless security alarm detectors are brand and frequency specific. While it is possible you could upgrade to a panel by the same manufacturer, chances are they moved onto a different frequency, because the previous frequency became too congested. Think of a cordless phone connected to a landline, or even 2G cellphones vs 5G. While cellphone providers do often support different standards for a certain time, eventually your cellphone will become an expensive paperweight. The environmental cost of disposed electronics is massive, why contribute to the problem with a Wireless Security Alarm system when a Hardwired alarm system has a much longer lifespan. I recently upgraded a 25 year old Hardwired alarm system and only had to replace the panel and keypad; the wireless alternative would have resulted in a large box of electronic waste. In addition to the Environmental Cost, the cost of all new Wireless detectors will drive up the overall cost of the upgrade... Oh ya, let us not forget about all the Lithium batteries gone to waste. If looked at in a single application the number of batteries may seem small. Consider, however, the massive environmental impact created by only one wireless centric security alarm company installing 4 to 5 wireless systems a day. Imagine the negative impact on the environment.
Cost of Ownership & Repair
Another factor, within the realm of sustainability, is the cost of repairs. Back to the system installed in 2004. As you know, there have been significant changes in security alarm technology since then in the Wireless Security Alarm realm, manufacturers are constantly fixing their wireless component and changing frequencies as old frequencies continue to fail. If a wireless window contact tranmitter or wireless Motion detector were to fail, you may be hard-pressed to find a replacement which works with your now outdated wireless alarm system. In this case you would either have to go without that particular area protected or you would need to replace your entire wireless alarm system, including the sensors which still worked, as they could not be used with the new wireless alarm system.
In contrast, Hardwired Security alarm sensors are universal and aside from having a much longer lifespan, than their wireless counterparts, any new hardwired motion detector, regardless of manufacturer, will work with any existing hardwired security alarm control panel.
Freedom to Choose
One other reason to choose a hardwire security system, over their wireless counterpart, is the selection of detectors. As stated earlier, wireless detector and control panel compatibility is Brand Specific. In other words, wireless alarm system manufacturers have tied your hands in the available detector types to the ones within their product line. This limitation often restricts you to certain types of detectors, often excluding specialized detectors such as water sensors, gas sensors and even superior quality standard detectors.
In contrast, the choice of detectors in a hardwired security alarm system is only limited by what is available in the market. Take for example Carbon monoxide, water, natural gas, propane, vibration… and the list goes on. Wireless security systems are generally designed around the average security need of the consumer. Since detectors are not interchangeable across manufacturer lines, it would be financially unfeasible for a wireless security system manufacturer to create wireless detectors for every conceivable need. Even in the spectrum of standard detectors, there are some manufacturers who have extremely reliable detectors that only work on hardwire security alarm systems. Choosing a wireless security alarm system can often result in you having a detector less suited for your particular application. Once again the average security need factor comes into play.
Inevitably, the choice of whether to have a wireless or hardwire security system installed is entirely up to you. In fact, your only choice may be wireless. Hopefully I have given you some information to help you along with your decision. If you have any questions, or would like to have KeepSafe Systems install or monitor a security system in your home or business, please feel free to visit us at http://www.keepsafesystems.ca. If you do choose a wireless security alarm system, please dispose of your batteries responsibly. I just read an article about how improperly disposed Lithium Batteries are causing an epidemic of Landfill fires; even many battery recycling companies are contributing to the destruction of the environment. Here is an interesting article on the problem with Lithium Batteries
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