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Difference Between Wired and Wireless Home Alarm Systems

This is another common question, so we decided to make it today’s blog topic! Below is our Pros & Cons list for Wireless vs. Hard Wired Alarm Systems which can also be found on our post about What Questions To Ask Every Alarm Company.


Wireless Home Alarm Systems: Pros & Cons

  • Wireless alarm systems take less time to install and require no drilling or wiring
  • Wireless alarm systems make it easy to upgrade features and equipment later
  • Less frequent maintenance and typically lower install costs for wireless alarm systems
  • Replaceable batteries, longer life spans & easily replaceable sensors
  • Wireless alarms can be moved with you to a new home
  • Simpler and less intrusive installation, easy to remove if needed
  • No alarm wires that can be cut or become corroded
  • Ideal for most home and business alarm applications
  • Wireless alarms are typically less expensive than hard wired alarms as the latter requires alarm technician labor
  • Allows for simple, easy to install wireless home automation components like thermostats, locks and lighting controls.
  • Wireless alarm systems have distance limitations. Not ideal for extremely large homes or properties with multiple buildings. Most wireless alarm systems have a 500ft open air range.
  • Some wireless alarm systems have sensor limitations. Large homes with the need for 40-50+ sensors may need a hybrid system or strictly hard wired alarm.

Hard Wired Home Alarm Systems: Pros & Cons

  • Hard wired alarm systems can incorporate a lot more sensors than a wireless alarm system. Although most home don’t need any more than 15-20 sensors.
  • Hard wired alarm systems have been around forever, they are tried and true.
  • A hard wired alarm system is always installed by a technician. Depending on your view, this could be a pro or a con.
  • Hard wired alarms allow for further integration with the home such as Audio/Visual equipment and other home automation devices that wireless does not yet offer.
  • More companies offer hard wired alarms than do wireless alarm systems
  • Installation is normally more expensive, but monthly cost is usually lower depending on certain factors
  • Hard Wired alarm systems have a much more intensive installation. Requires drilling.
  • Many hard wired alarms are obsolete and outdated.
  • Installation costs can be much higher than a wireless alarm system

When alarm systems first came on to the scene EVERYTHING was hard wired in to your home. Wireless technology had not yet been invented – at least not for home security. So for decades alarm companies would come out to your home, suggest a system and then send an alarm technician to install it for you. The problem was that the technician would be there for hours running wires through your home, drilling holes to run the wires, and cutting a BIG old hole in your wall for your keypad – or multiple keypads. While some people may have kept their alarm systems for many many years, eventually the system would be obsolete or would need to replaced – and if the system wasn’t replaced it would just sit there with a bunch of wires hanging out and ugly keypads drilled in to the wall.

Hard wired alarm systems have come a long way since the early days and are a tried and true method to home security. The problem? Wiring is being cut out – literally. Not only can intruders easily cut a wire, but many alarm companies are moving towards more affordable and less intrusive wireless alarm systems.

Wireless alarm systems are generally more affordable but they provide a lot more flexibility for future expansion of your alarm system and do not require an intensive installation by an alarm technician – some don’t need a technician at all.

With a wireless alarm system you can easily add and remove alarm sensors depending on your current needs. If you move to a new home many companies will allow you to take the alarm system with you and use it at your new residence. If you think about it, with a wireless alarm system you may never need to purchase another one again!

Many wireless alarm companies currently offer an abundance of options for wireless alarm sensors, wireless cameras and wireless home automation devices – and many of these can easily be installed by the homeowner themselves. Some of the companies on our list that currently offer Do It Yourself wireless alarm systems are FrontPoint Security, Protect America, SafeMart and LifeShield. You can click on each company name to see the review for each.

The greatest benefit for consumers when it comes to choosing a hard wired or wireless alarm system is not having to drill any holes or run any wires through your home. You don’t want to tear up that beautiful wall you just painted or have a bunch of ugly wires hanging out of your doors and windows. Wireless alarm systems are aesthetically pleasing and unobtrusive. Not to mention easy to use.

Despite all the positives of having a wireless alarm system, there is one small catch. Wireless alarm systems do have distance limitations. So if you have a very large home or a large property with multiple buildings you could have trouble getting signal to travel well in your home. When we say “large” we mean several thousand square foot home at minimum and a property with buildings that may be more than 100ft from the residence or main building. Most wireless alarm systems have an open air range of about 500ft. This is perfect for almost all home settings.

Another limitation to wireless alarms is the amount of alarm sensors you can use with one Control Panel. Many wireless alarm systems have a sensor limitation of about 40-50 sensors. This will not affect the average homeowner, but again, someone with a large home with an abundance of doors and windows could come close to this threshold – but in our research we found that this is a rare occurrence at best. In the end wireless alarm systems have way more benefits for the average homeowner than not.

One thing we haven’t really touched on is “hybrid” alarm systems. A hybrid alarm system combines the aspect of wireless alarm sensors and hard wired alarm sensors. This allows for more robust features and better expandability – given you have the best of both worlds. However, these hybrid systems are normally used in large settings where wireless alone will not cover the area and are generally a lot more expensive than a traditional hard wired or wireless alarm system. Only look in to hybrid alarms if you have more than 30 or 40 points of entry or have an extremely technical set of requirements.

So, what have we learned? What is the best type of alarm system?
Well, I guess that depends on what you’re looking for and what you’re comfortable with. In the end Alarm System Report recommends wireless alarm systems over any other for the typical home. Wireless alarm systems are easy to set up, easy to use and easy to expand on later – and can even be taken with you to new residences. Wireless takes the top prize in this debate.