With as many as 2.5 million home burglaries taking place every year in the United States, owning a personal security system can provide some much needed peace of mind. Protecting your home is as important as ever, but many uncertainties go into purchasing a system. One of the largest concerns that goes into investing in a home security system is whether to go with a wireless or a wired setup to the system. Both come with strengths and weaknesses, such as:

  • Wireless systems require battery changes/charges in order to function, inconvenient compared to the wired systems.
  • Wireless systems are easier to install, and can be installed in locations wired systems couldn’t (rented properties/older homes)
  • Wired systems are much more difficult to take with you when you move.
  • The best system will be dependent on your needs.

What makes up a home security system? The average home security system is equipped with numerous pieces of technology to properly guard a home from intruders. Motion sensors, indoor and outdoor cameras, glass break detectors, and door and window sensors are all key parts of the average home security system.

Key Components of Wired & Wireless Systems

Motion sensors will set off an alarm when motion is detected. Thanks to infrared motion sensors, body heat can be detected and changes in temperatures noticed will trigger the alarm once energy levels change rapidly enough in the room. When used alongside microwave sensors, which measure reflections off of moving objects with pulses of microwave radiation, false alarms are rare.

Security cameras can both record and provide a live feed of video to a connected app. Indoor security cameras provide a view of the inside of the house to see what goes on when you aren’t around, and outdoor security cameras provide the same for outside the house and are often built tougher, water resistant and strong in order to prevent breaks while guarding the home.

Additionally, door and window sensors are some of the most key elements in any home security system. Once armed, the sensors will trigger an alarm when they detect the window or door they’re attached to becomes open. Once the alarm starts, it can’t be stopped by closing the door or window again, preventing quick-working criminals from sealing the window or door again to silence the alarm.

Glass break sensors will trigger alarms when it detects glass being broken. Either by seeking out a shockwave from glass being broken or listening constantly for the frequency of the sound of broken glass, this sensor acts as an extra layer of protection for the house against forced entry.

For much of their existence, these aspects of a security system depended on hard wiring it into a central panel. However, with modern wireless technology, it’s become easier than ever to have a fully wireless system. So it should be a no brainer which one is better, right? Well, there are a few pros and cons that go into each kind of system.

Pros and Cons of Wired & Wireless Security Systems

What’s important to remember is that much of the gear we see in security systems is largely the same regardless of wired vs wireless. Very rarely are you getting a “worse model” when you choose one style over the other, it’s more of a difference in how the machines draw power and interact with one another.

The wired set-up for security systems is tried and true. Before wireless connectivity took off, it was the only way to do things, and as a result, is the spot where we know the most about security systems. A central hub is installed in the home that all components of the system are hard wired into. This tends to require a professional install, and some homes aren’t built to have these wires drilled into the walls for sensors and cameras. It can be a messy job to get everything installed properly, with some houses even requiring repairs following installation. Cameras suffer the most from being wired in; once they’re placed somewhere, it becomes very difficult to move them to a more advantageous location compared to where it is. However, the wired setup has plenty of benefits. As everything is wired in, there’s no concern about the system losing power, even in the event of outages, as many systems have backup batteries to draw power from during outages. Additionally, the camera footage saves directly to a DVR with high capacity, allowing for footage to be recorded even when the internet is down. With fewer physical components and a typically lower cost for the system itself (despite the added cost of install) the wired system is still a great option even with a few shortcomings.

Wireless systems tend to bring more convenience to the table, at a few rather inconvenient costs. Since no wires are required, users can expect easier installation, as it can be as easy as placing the cameras and sensors wherever they’d like. It also increases flexibility when users move; they can easily take all the components along with them. Wireless security devices also have the added benefit of easily working with the rest of your smart home equipment, like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The gear can be upgraded more easily, as when a user desires a new piece for their system, they don’t have to wire it into the existing system. However, the shortcomings for wireless security systems are fairly major. If the Wi-Fi goes down, all the cameras could too. RF signals can be intercepted or blocked, and the need to regularly change batteries can be more of an inconvenience than anything.

Both varieties of system come with drawbacks. Wired systems require more initial set up and are less convenient to set up and make changes to. Wireless systems have much more convenient set up at the cost of having major issues when the internet goes down or the batteries run out. In the end, which type of security system one purchases will tend to rely on their circumstances. Some old homes and rental units are either unfit or disallowed for hardwired connections, making wireless the best option. Other homes may face regular bouts of internet outages, making hardwired connection work better. Whichever device suits the needs of the user most is the better device.