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Wired vs: Wireless Security Systems

Once, all security systems were hard wired. Cameras, bells, sensors, control stations were all connected by wires. Now, wireless alarm systems are widely available. In fact, some alarm companies give away the equipment and install it for free in exchange for a monthly service contract fee. The installation expense for them is so small they can afford such generous offers. If you buy your alarm system and install it yourself, you may be able to do it in as little as a couple of hours.

The key advantage of wireless home security is the ease of installation. You install the various devices wherever is convenient with no worries about routing power and data wires through the walls back to the command module. All communications are sent wirelessly through the air, just like with a wireless network or a cordless telephone.

However, there is some downside to wireless security systems. First of all, the signal must be able to penetrate the walls and floors to communicate with the main control center. If the signal is weak or not getting through at all, the security device cannot do its job. Another problem is power; many devices, such as cameras, require electrical power. If there is outlet near the installation location, you will either have to wire it to an electric supply or use batteries. With batteries, the required maintenance increases as you have to go around periodically changing the batteries. If a battery runs out of juice, then your security system will not function. Wireless equipment is coming down in price, but it is still more expensive than wired equipment.

There are a couple other serious problems with wireless systems. First, it is possible to jamb the wireless signals. While this is a more sophisticated technique and many burglars wouldn't have the knowledge to employ this tactic, it is important for you not to be overly confident in the infallibility of your security system. The greatest concern with a wireless system is that all the devices communicate with a central control module. Unlike wired systems that have various safeguards, a wireless system can be disabled by a burglar simply finding and unplugging the control module. If the module is in an easy access location so that you can disable it upon arriving home, then the intruder can also disable it.

Wired security systems tend to be more reliable and the equipment is less expensive. However, they are significantly more work to install. All wires from all devices must converge in one place. If you are building a house or undergoing a major remodel, then hard-wiring may be a reasonable option. Otherwise, the wiring can be quite expensive to have done professionally or time consuming to do yourself.

Hard wired alarm systems typically have a central control module that is installed in a secure location that is fairly inaccessible to an intruder. This control module is ordinarily connected to the telephone line at the point of entry to your home. This prevents intruders from circumventing it by simply taking the phone off the hook. The access panel used to disable the alarm upon entering your home may be visible to an intruder, but destroying the panel will have no affect on the functioning of the alarm. This gives wired systems a certain advantage over wireless systems. However, there are some more elaborate wireless systems that also employ this technique and if you choose to go with wireless, you should make sure the system you choose has this feature.

One additional consideration is the use of a hybrid system. Use wired components in the places where they are easily installed and use the wireless components in the more difficult locations. Using wireless exterior perimeter cameras is an example of a situation when this hybrid system would be a good option.

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