Like all security products, wireless security systems have their place. Many alarm installers use wireless systems as they are quick to install, but they are not necessarily cheaper than a conventional hard-wired system.
Professional wireless components are generally more expensive for the installer to purchase than their hard-wired equivalent, so, even though they are quicker to install resulting in a lower labour cost, the equipment usually costs more.
Wireless systems can be susceptible to interference by other wireless devices in the vicinity causing false alarms, ‘lost’ connection and signal jamming faults. If this happens, it can be very difficult to rectify and sometimes comes down to moving the device locations to try to alleviate the problem.
Where wireless really scores points is when there is not an option to run cables because of decoration or where remote buildings need protection and the distance is within the range of the wireless devices.
As a professional installer, we prefer to install a hard-wired system wherever possible and practical for three main reasons:
There are no batteries in the devices which need changing periodically.
Fault finding on a hard-wired system is usually more conclusive as there are physical connections that can be tested along with taking electrical measurements.
A professionally installed hardwired system is generally more reliable than its wireless counterpart for the reasons outlined in this article.
Batteries in wireless detectors are quite often quoted to last around two years by the manufacturer. The truth is, it depends on how often that device it triggered. For example, a device on a busy door will use significantly more battery life than one on a door which is hardly used. It is therefore wise to have the batteries changed yearly on a service visit to save the cost of a call out should the battery fail mid-year.
Hybrid systems (part hardwired & part wireless) can be a good compromise when upgrading an intruder alarm system. This type of system allows the stability of the hardwired element coupled with the flexibility of wireless for areas that cannot easily be cabled to. It also allows the existing cabling to be used assuming there are no faults on it.