Wireless Alarm System Pros and Cons

By Robert Vaux

  • Overview

    Wireless alarm systems are defined as those which have their own power source, as opposed to those connected to the electrical grid of the house and/or which link their components through electrical wiring. They have a number of benefits which make them extremely attractive, but their drawbacks should be seriously considered as well before making a purchase.
  • Pro: Portability

    Wireless alarm systems are designed to have easily portable components which can be installed and uninstalled very quickly. That means you can take them with you when you move without much of a fuss, and you won't need to leave behind the wiring and infrastructure installations of more elaborate set-ups.
  • Pro: Inexpensive

    Wired alarm systems usually need to be installed by a trained professional and entail monitoring services which involve a monthly fee. Not so with wireless alarms. A simple door sensor can be purchased at any electronics supply store for less than $10, and even the most expensive systems don't run more than $200 or so. Wireless systems can be installed by anyone in just a few minutes with nothing more than a screwdriver.

  • Pro: Independent Power Source

    Wired alarm systems depend upon the electrical grid in your house to operate. In the event of a blackout, they will go down along with the rest of your electronic equipment, and burglars can disable them simply by flipping the appropriate switch in your fuse box. Wireless systems, on the other hand, are powered by batteries and remain functioning even if the rest of the house is without electricity. Furthermore, in many cases, each individual component has its own power source, which means your system is equipped with redundancies. For instance, even if a burglar disables the wireless alarm on your door, he will still need to disable a motion detector in the room beyond it, a laser detector on the stairs, an alarm attached to your bedroom door, and any other component within your system.
  • Con: Isolated

    While a few wireless alarms come equipped with a dialing system which will call the police and play a pre-recorded message, most do nothing more than make a loud noise. There are no monitoring services the way there are for wired systems and if you need to summon the police or emergency services, you will need to do it yourself. This can be a significant problem if you are away from your home when it is breached or incapacitated during a burglary.
  • Con: Power Source

    Because wireless alarms have their own batteries (often common household batteries), they need to be checked and replaced on a regular basis if they are to remain effective. Wired alarm services have no such concerns and will always function provided there is electricity coming into the house.
  • Con: Limited Range

    Some wireless alarm systems operate on radio signals, which joins all of the components together. Each of the door sensors, window sensors, motion detectors and IR alarms sends a signal to a central control unit, which activates the alarm itself. The radio signals often have a limited range, however, and will not work through every part of a large or complex piece of property. Wired systems, on the other hand, will stretch as far as required as long as the owner can string enough wire to get there.
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