A Comparative Study Between Wired and Wireless Digital Home Security System
Both wireless and wired security configurations offer reassurance, but there are real differences in cost, convenience, reliability and flexibility
But with more technology options than ever, there is a common question among homeowners who decide to upgrade to this type of protection: Is wireless home security solution better than wired security?
In this article, we analyze the pros and cons of wireless digital home security systems and their connected counterparts, examining installation, reliability, portability, and other key features shared by efficient home configurations.
Installation differences between wireless and wired security systems
Wired digital home security systems connect sensors and detectors to a central processing unit or alarm control panel through copper cables. These wired configurations can have an advantage in some very large buildings, where long distances between sensors and control panels can make some wireless solutions impractical. But the installation of wired devices usually requires a professional installer and entails a considerable expense. Installers must drill holes, install cables, possibly weld connections and program the system on-site. Wired surveillance systems alone, for example, cost between 50% and 100% more per camera than wireless cameras.
These facilities also require a degree of trust between the consumer and the installer. Even brand alarm distributors can take the installation task to subcontractors, leading to mishaps ranging from below-average facilities to stolen goods. The credibility of the installer is crucial.
In contrast, wireless digital home security systems allow an installation approach that you can perform yourself. Many of them integrate easy-to-use smart house technology with the same detection and monitoring capability as wired systems. The best wireless systems even allow alarm companies to remotely provide troubleshooting and confirm that their system is working.
A critical feature of many wireless systems is preprogramming. A single security solution for the home usually features several motion sensors, window sensors, door sensors, cameras and a variety of other devices. The preprogramming ensures that each device is immediately connected to a control panel, and only to that control panel. Preprogrammed kits, like Front Safe’s Safe Home packages, provide ready-to-use functionality and simple DIY installation.
Which digital home security system is more reliable and safe?
As long as the wiring between the devices and the control panel remains intact in a wired safety system, the panel and connected devices should be easily connected. But for some wired configurations, particularly older ones, a loss of power can mean problems. While some systems have a backup battery, those that are not are increasingly vulnerable to the number of power outages in the United States.
In addition, wired systems may be vulnerable to manipulation. The term “cabling” could refer to how the individual detection elements communicate with the alarm control panel within the home and/or how the panel sends outgoing signals to a homeowner and/or a monitoring service. This is important because thieves tend to cut the wires when they attack a house, especially once they know or suspect is alarmed. Cutting the correct cables can prevent signals from the individual devices from going to the control panel and, if the panel signal is turned off through a telephone line, the offenders can deactivate the monitoring completely. However, an otherwise wired system that uses outgoing cell to contact a monitoring service would not have this latter problem.
In contrast, many of today’s wireless home security systems are truly wireless, meaning that the signals from the devices to the control panel and from the panel to a monitoring system are transmitted wirelessly. They have battery-powered sensors that are monitored to track battery life. If the battery runs out or the device is disconnected, the control panel can send a report to the monitoring centre and the owner. And manufacturers of alarm systems have developed sensors with a battery life of six years or more.
To support the long battery life seen in devices such as Frontpoint door and window sensors, there are several low power consumption protocols (ways to transmit data from one place to another) that allow security sensors to communicate more efficiently over long distances. Two of these protocols are highlighted in home security: ZigBee and Z-Wave, now followed by the improvement of Z-Wave Plus. They were designed for smart homes and the Internet of Things (IoT), the network technology widely used in smart devices of all kinds, and have wide use in digital home security systems. Both defend against piracy with the AES-128 encryption, which is so sure that some estimates measure the time needed to decipher it in billions of years.
And both use much less power than WiFi while they have a longer range than Bluetooth connections: a maximum of approximately 100 meters in open spaces for ZigBee and Z-Wave, and 167 meters for Z-Wave Plus. That said, walls and objects damage the signal, and it is recommended that home devices enabled with this technology should not be more than a dozen feet to 100 feet from the control panel to maximize energy efficiency.
Portability and personalization: wireless technology is a clear winner
Any device installed in a wired residential security system remains fixed in place throughout its lifetime, at least until more cable runs. This greatly increases the cost of updates, degradations and additions. And some alarm distributors will only rearrange the wired alarm systems for customers who have a 1 to 2-year history and agree to sign a new contract.
However, devices that are included in wireless home security systems simply sit on a shelf or stick to the walls with a peel-off adhesive. This equipment can not only be reorganized while you live in the same place but also easily transferred from one home to another.
Full-service home security service companies offer back-end systems and control panels that provide an all-in-one approach to the automation of the entire home, and wireless technology has a clear advantage here, given the capacity of the control panel to interact without problems with other homes Automation devices. Owners can control lights, locks, thermostats and security cameras through a single interface. Customizable programs can send mobile alerts when freezing temperatures threaten to blowpipes in an unheated home, while others use smoke detectors to provide an illuminated escape route when a fire is detected.
WiFi and wired cameras, each has certain advantages
Both wired and wireless security cameras gather evidence, prevent theft and, with interactive monitoring, prevent false alarms. However, there are differences in cost and capacity, and each option has certain advantages over the other.
Wired systems may require up to three cables for a single camera. But wired cameras have the advantage over their wireless counterparts in terms of video quality and storage space. Video has much greater demands, both in terms of transmission and data storage and energy consumption than other security sensors such as glass break detectors. This is where wired cameras shine: they typically send images to a digital video recorder (DVR), and a terabyte DVR can store an impressive 40-day high-resolution video. However, many of these specifications go far beyond the needs of an average owner.
To make WiFi transmission and live streaming fewer data-intensive, most wireless security cameras are only activated for a short period of time when motion is detected. The Frontpoint WiFi outdoor camera, for example, uses a built-in motion sensor to record in fifteen-second bursts. These cameras provide high-resolution live transmissions and make the images available online.
It is important to understand that, while wireless cameras do not use cables, they do not use the low power consumption protocols used by other wireless security monitoring devices, nor do they send a cellular signal. At the moment, the cameras must be connected to WiFi to ensure there is enough bandwidth to send relatively large video data. Therefore, wireless cameras generally require connection to an outlet and the home Internet must be working so they can transmit, but still, eliminate the need to pass the cable through the walls, and can be easily relocated.
Domestic systems by cable versus wireless systems: the lower line
Both types of home security system could be enough to drive away a potential thief. But for consumers seeking comfort and to benefit from rapid technological advances, wireless technology is a much better option. Wireless home security systems, especially those that also rely exclusively on outgoing cell communication, are portable, cost-effective and even more secure than a wired option.
Perhaps most importantly, they are reliable and flexible. A wireless digital home security system can be quickly reconfigured to extend security or move to a new residence, as well as easily integrate with smart home technologies. And while thieves can avoid a possible target with any security system, the smartest certainly move away from the houses with equipment that is always on, connected and transmitting, and without wires, they can cut.