There are a lot of security systems on the market, but they all fall under two basic categories: wired and wireless security. While both kinds of systems will do a reliable job of protecting your home, they each have benefits and limitations that can determine whether or not they’re the right fit for a particular home. When you’re shopping for a new security system, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of wireless home security systems and wired home security systems in order to make the best choice for your family. Here’s what most security shoppers love and hate about these two types of home security systems.
Pros of Wired Security Systems
- Reliable and consistent. Wired security systems don’t rely on sensors or radio frequencies. Instead, they are wired directly into your telephone line, making them less likely to fail and less prone to false alarms. They also aren’t susceptible to electromagnetic interference from other devices, like baby monitors and remote controls.
- Less vulnerable to hacking. Hacking a wired security system is a difficult process that would involve someone needing to physically connect to the system in order to make it malfunction. Given the time, effort and know-how required to do this, it’s highly unlikely that a wired system would be a target for hacking.
- Convenient for large spaces. Wired security systems have the potential to span multiple buildings on the same property, if needed. They can also support multiple control panels and more sensors than a typical wireless system.
- Easy setup and maintenance. Once the system is installed, it will work consistently without homeowners needing to change batteries or charge equipment. If you are moving into a new home with a wired security system, it’s also easy to set up by simply calling the security provider of your choice and asking to get your system connected.
Cons of Wired Security Systems
- Expensive install. Wired security systems are most easily installed during the homebuilding process, so having one installed after the fact can be pricey. A security professional will need to drill holes into walls and run low-voltage wires to connect to sensors. This process can be time consuming, difficult and costly.
- Not mobile. Once a wired security system is in place, it’s there forever. Uninstalling a wired security system can be just as expensive and difficult as installing one, and many security professionals do not recommend moving wired systems, so they won’t remove the system and re-install it elsewhere.
- Vulnerable to power outages. Almost all wired security systems have a backup battery in place to account for power outages, but if an outage lasts beyond the battery’s life, the system will eventually shut down, potentially leaving your home vulnerable during an emergency.
- Easier to disable. Though it is rare, a wired security system can be disable by snipping the phone line outside a home. This vulnerability is unique to wired systems and something to consider when deciding between wired and wireless security.
Pros of Wireless Security Systems
- Easy install and removal. Installing a wireless security system doesn’t require drilling holes or running wires, and many wireless systems have a DIY install process that eliminates installation fees. These systems can also be easily uninstalled and transported to a new residence. They’re ideal for renters, historic homes, and buildings with brick, stone or marble interior that would be difficult to drill into for a wired system.
- Highly customizable. Because wireless systems aren’t hardwired, you can easily add equipment, move equipment and modify the system. Wireless systems can also typically sync with other home automation systems to offer special features like smart locks, smart lights and smart thermostats.
- Remote accessibility. Wireless systems can be monitored and controlled remotely using an app, email alerts, or text alerts. This eliminates the need to use an in-home control pad for all basic functions.
- Less vulnerable. Wireless systems do not have a single line that can be cut by intruders to disable the system. Additionally, because most parts of a wireless system function on batteries, they are not vulnerable to power outages the same way a wired system is.
Check out our picks for the best wireless security systems
Cons of Wireless Security Systems
- Less reliable. Like WiFi or a cell phone, the reliability of a wireless system can be impacted by electromagnetic interference, structural interference, or even bad weather. Because of this, wireless security systems are also more likely to be triggered by false alarms than a wired system.
- Vulnerable to hacking. It’s important to check the specifications of your wireless system to verify that it is not an easy target for hackers. Wireless systems that don’t have encrypted or authenticated signals sent from access point sensors could hacked and have their signals jammed, disabling the alarm and making it easy for burglars to enter a home undetected.
- Not ideal for large spaces. Wireless security sensors usually have distance limits, which means they aren’t ideal if you have a large home or need coverage across a large property with multiple buildings. The average range of a wireless radio signal is about 500 feet.
- High maintenance. The components of a wireless system may be electric, but many run on batteries, meaning the batteries will need to changed out or charged periodically. If you have a wireless security system, it’s important to carefully monitor the battery life of each piece to make sure everything is working properly.
Wired vs. wireless systems: The bottom line
Any security system will have pros and cons, but what matters the most is what you need from the system and how you expect it to function in your home. If you’re living on a large property or want the benefit of permanence and reliability, a wired security system will undoubtedly be the best choice. Meanwhile, those living in a typical single-family home who value customization and flexibility may find that wireless security is the best choice. But no matter which system you choose, you will be making an informed choice that will ultimately make your home a safer place for your family, and that is the most important thing.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.