Security system - wired or wireless?

northpolehomeJuly 10, 2014

So initially we were thinking of doing a wired security system. But we found a wireless system that has more features, and of course, cheaper. Question is, should we still do the pre-wiring for a wired security system for resale later on? Would it hurt us if we don't have the security system prewired? The neighborhood is safe and quiet, but we have been seeing a lot of new builds having security system installed or at least pre-wired.

Also, any opinions or reviews on wireless systems?

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We were just sitting down with our builder and discussing this very topic.. if you are in the building process and everything is open then the answer is simple.. WIRED!!! .. Not sure what your plans are but being that we are building we are hard wiring every door and window.. By hardwiring you never have to worry about battery replacements and you will have an extremely low chance of false offsets... I am in law enforcement and we see alot of alarms get set off and they are just a false alarm.. I have never been on a call where it was a hard wired system.. Wireless technology is getting better but for the safety of me and my home I will be hardwiring everything.. (doors, windows, fire/smoke alarm, co alarm, etc).. We are still figuring out which system we will end up with but you can do a hybrid system where you hardwire everything now and if you want to add wireless accessories later you can.. Looking around online I am leaning towards the DSC 1864 model.. I think you can have up to 64 zones and if I read it correctly you can mix wired and wireless..

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 5:45PM
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No batteries to replace, no problems with radio interference, smaller sensors.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 7:58PM
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What about when the power goes out? Is there a battery back up?

How do security systems work with stand alone (nat gas) generators?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 11:16PM
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Most alarm systems (if not all) have a battery backup.. These backups will power the system in the event of a power outage.. However they are not meant to be a permanent power source so if you live in an area that has frequent power outages it would probably be wise to have spares ready to go.. Most of the research I have seen shows that most battery backups will run at minimum for 8 hours.. I always plan ahead so my idea is to have the system with backup battery hooked up and then have a separate battery charging station for the backup.. However I also plan to have a whole house generator installed...

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 1:28AM
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Interesting, I just asked that question of a friend who is a Fire Chief (& Intl Assoc of Fire Chiefs Officer) - he said wireless and even put that in his own home. Since you want the battery back-up (and will check & replace those batteries), no need to spend the extra $$$.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 2:44AM
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mdln - you cant go wrong either way, however for less false alarms hardwired is better.. That goes without matter what you look at you will always have better connectivity when you have a hardwired connection.. when it comes to alarms its more a matter of false offsets.. wireless systems can get interference with other wireless signals and can give a false offset.. Both will give the offset when an actual event is occurring..

It all boils down to your install.. In a house that is already up you are better off doing wireless.. if you are building new you are better off hardwiring..

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 3:25AM
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@dreamgarden -

Both wired and wireless systems have to have builtin battery backup by UL.

For intrusion, the system has to work for at least 4 hours on battery - for fire 24 hours. However, most intrusion systems will run at least 12 hours on battery.

Another recent change is that the industry is moving to 3G radios from dialup phones to deliver alarms - this is independent of wired or wireless sensors.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 11:31AM
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I have a wireless system since about 5 years that has been updated now and then to the latest technology, but if I had a chance to use hard-wired instead I would switch in a second.

There are numerous issues with wireless as mentioned above, but perhaps even more problematic than the false alarms are the non-reported events. If there is a problem reaching a sensor, the control panel will give it a certain time before giving an alert that there is a malfunctioning sensor. In order to save battery this is typically 24 hours, and if it manages to communicate with the sensor during this time it resets and concludes that all is fine. In effect this means that there could in the extreme be a blackout of 23 hours and 59 minutes on a sensor, and the control panel wouldn't react. Since this is dependent on wifi range you can expect higher reliability from sensors close to the panel and less so the further away you get.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 12:53PM
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Absolutely go with wired in a new build. Like others have mentioned if you've already got everything opened up it leaves room for a ton of expansion. Reliability is key in a wired system.

Consider buying a cellular connection for it as well. Adds another level of protection. Are you thinking cameras too? Those are probably best to have wired as well if you've got the space open at the moment.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 11:40PM
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Talk to an alarm company. We did/are doing a hybrid so that we have the option to expand wireless features in the future but have the doors and windows all hardwired.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 11:45AM
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How do wireless systems work in windows? For wired, there is a magnet sensor attached to a wire- when the magnets disengage (window open) the alarm goes off. For wireless, does that mean that each window sensor sends a signal and needs a battery? Or does that mean you can't have windows protected with wireless (only motion detectors?). Sorry - having trouble visualizing how wireless works....

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:21PM
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Thank you for all the information. It seems like the consensus is wired. I think we will go with that one.

Nepool, not sure about that. My husband is doing the research on this, I am just trying to help him out.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:35AM
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Nepool - Each window can have a wireless sensor.. However each wirless sensor will require a battery which will need to be replaced as necessary.. The sensors will send a signal to the main alarm panel regarding the status of that door/window..

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:23AM
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nepool -

Each wireless sensor has a battery.

In theory, they should last 7 years, but the actual time will vary based on things like how often it opens and how large the temperature swings are. A battery on a window in Wyoming will have a shorter battery life than one in Florida.

Like Jason said, the sensor will tell the alarm panel that the battery is low and the keypad or web interface will tell you that the battery needs to be replaced.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:15AM
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Thanks. If we don't want sensors drilled into the new windows, do we have to do wireless? I like the idea of wired (for all the reasons already mentioned) but don't like the idea of holes in my new windows.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:46PM
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they can not cut the window and mount the sensor to the side.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 5:41PM
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In my previous house I had a wired alarm and the sensors were not that obvious. There was a hole drilled in the base of the window sill under the window and a pencil-diameter sensor dropped into it (the wires running back to the panel were inside the sill under the sensor). The other half of the sensor (a magnet) was just epoxied onto the bottom of the window frame.

I have a Honeywell wireless alarm in my current house, and they have many options for sensors. I am using one on my windows that mounts on a double-hung window next to the latch, so its quite visible, but there are others that would work. Some of the wireless sensors also have a set of wired contacts, so you can use the wireless sensor/transmitter along with any type of contact switch (e.g., lever action, water sensor, etc.).


    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:47PM
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Bcarlson, did those window setups void the window warranties? I read in other threads here that it could if you drill holes. Trying to see what can be done as an alternative.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 10:34AM
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