August 9, 2010
Difference Between Wireless Sensors and Wireless Monitoring
It’s a fact that the alarm industry evolves slowly, but over twenty-plus years I have observed some significant shifts in alarm technology and the overall approach to providing protection.
The problem is that two of these “Top 10” innovations share the same name, and have two very different meanings. That name is “wireless security” - and today we will get to the bottom of this possibly deceptive and frequently confused concept term.
When most companies say “wireless security system,” they are referring to how the sensors talk to the control panel. Are these systems better than hard-wired systems? Yes, and for many reasons. Does FrontPoint like and use them? You bet! In fact, most of the home alarm systems being installed today use wireless sensors. Here is a short list of benefits provided by this technology:
- Easier to install. No drilling, no mess, quicker, and less chance of damage to your home.
- Each sensor creates its own reporting “zone” – no confusion about which door or window is open.
- Easier to troubleshoot – no tracing wires, searching for the cut or shorted wire, or opening walls to re-run wires.
- Easier to reposition, remove, or add more sensors later.
- Easier to move the entire system with you, especially if a DIY system (see more here).
This meaning refers to how the alarm system communicates to the monitoring center. The problem is that 90% of the systems in use today still depend on a vulnerable phone line (or Internet connection) to reach the monitoring center. It’s easy for a burglar to cut that link, and they do so regularly, rendering these “old-school” system useless. That is where cellular monitoring comes in. There is no phone line required – the alarm system has its own built-in cellular device, so that alarm communication is independent, and far more reliable. The benefits:
- No phone line required – many homes are cell-only, or VOIP, and most alarm systems don’t like VOIP.
- Peace of mind - no phone line or Internet connection to be cut with a $5 pair of wire cutters (see here for more detail).
- Some homes keep a "traditional" phone line just for the alarm system - cancel that phone line, and it may pay for your monthly monitoring fee!
- Easier installation – no need for complex “line seizure” wiring that allows the alarm system to control the phone line. Great for DIY systems.
- Easier to move with you – wireless sensors and cellular monitoring create a truly portable system. You own the equipment: why not take it to your next home?
You may already know that FrontPoint is the only alarm company in the US that includes cellular monitoring with every system we sell – that’s why we say we are “100% wireless.” So when an alarm company advertises a “wireless security system” – you know the right question to ask: which wireless do you mean? The best systems are both!