How Safe Are Wireless Home Security Systems?

Are wireless home security systems safe? Info from the Brickhouse Security say “Wireless Home Security Systems are fully wireless and have built-in power supplies; even if the phone, power and Internet connections are down, your Wireless Home Security System will continue to monitor and protect your property. This feature will come in handy if an intruder cuts the power and phone lines, or there is a blackout and burglars are on the prowl.” Does this mean that the system has its own cell-phone built-in or uses a satellite so it could notify the PD and if so doesn't a burglar need nothing but a signal disrupter? No I'm not a burglar, just curious in how it works and how safe it really is. We all know if you have an alarm set to the phone-line someone can cut the lines, if you have digital phone someone can just turn the power off your house, or do both. So can a disrupter knock out the system signals? The real question is, “How safe are any Home Security Systems?”

Wireless security systems are highly inferior when compared to their Hardwire counterparts. The sad fact is, the only reason alarm companies install wireless is because it is easier and monitored alarm systems are a numbers game… the faster you get them in the more money you end up making. Truthfully, it is a dis-service to the end user.

As far as the supervision of phone lines, there are cellular solutions available, typically these will relay your alarm signal to a clearing station which will then route the signal to your monitoring station. I have a number of accounts in this technology and it works great.

Crooks tend to cut the phone lines then wait to see if there is any response. If nobody shows, they break in, kill the alarm panel (Which is much easier on a wireless toilet alarm) and have their way.

I have written an article on wireless security and it can be viewed in the archive at http://www.keepsafesystems.ca or below. It may seem biased to some, however I have been in the industry for 20 some-odd years and know the truth first hand. This is how I see it.

Wireless Vs Hardwire

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.

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.

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. This inevitably runs into expensive and time wasting service calls, equipment replacement and potential false alarms. One need only look at the cordless phone to see the pitfalls of the wireless technology. Sure they are great when you first purchase them, however, age and interference take their toll and sooner or later you have a paperweight with buttons and an LCD screen.

Sustainability is potentially the most expensive reason for choosing hardwire security systems over wireless. 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 that technology is always changing (Except they use the word “advancing”… it sounds better in advertising). So how do wireless security system “advancements” affect the owner of a wireless security system? Easy, say for example you were the unfortunate victim of a wireless security system sales person in 1995. Chances are if one of your motion detectors fails you will be hard-pressed to find a replacement. Simply put, you will now have to purchase an entirely new security system (Control panel, detectors, keypad etc) which depending on the size of your security alarm system will cost you as much and possibly more than if you would have installed a hardwired system to begin with. So in all fairness, I feel I should tell you what is in store for you if a hardwired detector fails. Simple, you replace the detector. Hardwire detectors are simple switches and most hardwire security system detectors are interchangeable regardless of the manufacturer.

Another factor within the realm of sustainability is the cost of upgrading. Back to the system installed in 1995. Yes there have been significant changes in security alarm technology since then. In the hardwire security system world, these changes are mostly in the area of convenience, esthetics and features. If all your detectors are in working order, upgrading a hardwire security system simply involves changing the control panel and keypad(s). This is generally a fairly easy process and is substantially less expensive than upgrading a complete wireless system.

One last consideration in choosing hardwire security systems over their wireless counterpart is the selection of detectors. Although you can retrofit almost any hardwire detector to a wireless system, there are far more choices of detector types in hardwire. 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 systems. Choosing a wireless security 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.