a new wireless home security system may—or may not—require getting the old
hardwired security system out of the way.
More and more homeowners, renters, and landlords are making the switch to wireless home security systems. Not only are wireless systems easier to install, but they also offer convenience and flexibility that the old hardwired security systems just can’t match. For example, many wired systems are basically designed for site-specific use. Once they’re installed, they’re installed.
Wireless systems, on the other hand, travel easily from place to place. If you decide to rearrange your indoor and outdoor cameras, intrusion sensors, or other components, you just pick most of them up and move them to their new positions. Many are held in place with only an easy to replace adhesive strip. Moving out entirely? Just pack your system components in a box, take them to your new home, and set them up.
In addition to the portability advantage, wireless security components are also popular because they link smoothly with each other and a central control panel, or "hub." These systems can do things like automatically turn on room lights when you unlock the front door. They can send you a mobile notification (and/or sound an alarm) when someone trips a motion sensor. They even allow you to conduct a visual inspection if you are at work or out of town by linking your security cameras to an app on your mobile device.
People interested in making the switch to wireless often want to remove their old hardwired security system first. Before you start working, however, there are a few things you need to do that require more brainpower than elbow grease. A lot of us really enjoy plunging into a home improvement project, but you can save yourself plenty of headaches if you put a little thought into it first.
decide what you do and don’t need to remove
Resist the completist’s temptation to rip out every trace of the old system. This is almost certainly unnecessary. It also may turn out to be much more trouble than it’s worth. Prioritize the following:
Remove components that will interfere with the placement or function of your new wireless components.
You may need to position some of your new wireless security cameras, door/window sensors, or other items in the same places occupied by their older hardwired counterparts. So, you have little choice but to remove these parts of the old system. Otherwise, the wireless system may not protect your home as effectively as possible.
Remove components that are unsightly or create visual clutter.
Newer wireless home security systems are usually designed to be as small and unobtrusive as possible. Older hardwired systems—especially some old-school cameras—may be less so. Even if the old components don’t look so bad, installing the new system right next to the old one may make the installation areas visually crowded or cause confusion. You may remember which system pieces are functional and active, but other people may not be so sure.
You likely don’t need to remove wiring or other items from inside your walls.
In most cases, hidden wiring from the old systems will not cause any problems if you leave it in place. If it does seem to be causing some sort of an issue, contact a licensed electrician for help. This is especially true if someone else installed the old system, and you are not familiar with it.
make sure the old system isn’t still active
Contact the old home security company
If you are switching from an active, monitored wired system to a new wireless system, you may want to contact the old home security system provider (if there was one) before you make any physical changes. Just because you’re letting the contract expire doesn’t mean the monitoring service is no longer active. Most systems will alert the service when wires are cut or disconnected. If you neglect the crucial step of notifying the company that you are disconnecting the system, don’t be surprised when it signals an emergency.
Disable the sirens
Even if your wired system is no longer linked to an external monitoring service, you still have internal alarms to be concerned about. Most systems that are still connected to a power source or have live internal batteries will sound an alarm when tampered with. While this might just be a loud annoyance, it could prompt neighbors or passersby to call the authorities themselves.
The quickest way to disable the sirens is at the control panel. If the control panel is still active and has a “maintenance mode” setting, choose that. This lets the system know that you are working on it, not tampering with it. If there is no maintenance mode setting, just keep in mind that the sirens will usually be connected to back-up batteries so that they can activate if the main power supply is interrupted. So, you'll need to disconnect the back-up circuit that powers the sirens. If you're unclear on how to do this, contact a professional electrician.
Third step: disconnect the power to the system
Once you are completely satisfied that you won’t be triggering any false alarms, it’s time for what may be the most important step in the whole process. Never attempt to physically remove electrically charged components of a hardwired home security system without first cutting off its power supply. Do not assume that because the system seems ancient or inactive that it does not have electricity running through it. This could be a fatal mistake.
Some hardwired systems plug directly into a standard wall outlet. These are the simplest ones to power down. Just pull the plug. It’s possible that the plug assembly will be attached directly to the outlet with a screw, due to its weight. If this is the case, just remove the screw. You’ll have to replace the screw once the plug assembly is unplugged and removed.
If the old system is connected directly to your home wiring, check inside your breaker box for the switch that shuts off power to the alarm. If the switch is not clearly marked—contact a professional. If you are not experienced with home wiring—contact a professional. An electrician or another qualified service provider will be able to complete this job quickly, neatly, and safely.
Remember that the purpose of having an alarm system in the first place is to protect your well-being. If you have any questions about electricity, don’t risk everything just to save a few bucks. Even if you are sure that you've cut off the power, double-check with the help of a voltage tester pen or a multimeter. No one should work with home wiring at all if they don’t own one of these devices.
And, again, messing with wiring may not be necessary at all if the system used standard outlets and plugs.
Fourth step: remove the old control panel
Once you are 100% sure power to the system is cut off (make that 110%), it’s time to remove the old system’s control box. These are usually located near the front door or one of the other entry points. Carefully remove any nails or screws that attach the device to the wall. The box might also be glued on, meaning you'll have to pry it off gently. Applying a little rubbing alcohol can also help.
If the box is directly wired to your power supply, STOP. Check one more time with voltage tester or multimeter before disconnecting the wires. If the device detects voltage, or if you note anything else unexpected about the connection—contact a professional. Once you have safely disconnected the wires, be sure to cap them off.
If the wiring to the old box does run inside your walls, you'll now have a small-but-unsightly hole to cover up. One easy way to do this might be to replace the box with your new wireless touchscreen or keypad. It’s quite likely that the old box was placed in a position that will work for the new device. Otherwise, break out the spackle and paint.
Fifth step: remove the remaining wired components
Now, it’s time to remove the hardwired cameras, motion detectors, door/window sensors, and other old system components. This will work similarly to removing the control panel. If cameras or other devices are placed high on a wall, use a sturdy safety ladder. Some things may take a little work to dislodge, and you don't want to do that while teetering on furniture.
You wouldn't expect these wired cameras or intrusion sensors to be still attached to live power after you've disconnected and removed the control box. But 100 percent of people electrocuted in home accidents also do not expect it to happen. You never know what some previous homeowner or installer may have rigged up and forgotten about. Check every connection with your testing device before touching it. Every time.
Once you’ve removed all the wired devices and capped off any wires, you may have a few small holes to spackle, patch, and paint. Again, remember that you may be able to cover some of these eyesores with a new component. Don’t feel that you have to, however. Arrange your new wireless system according to your current security needs.
Removing an old hardwired security system can be done safely
and (fairly) easily
If you follow the advice above, you should be able to remove your old home security system in a couple of hours. Remember, however—if you are inexperienced with home repair or the job requires wiring work you aren’t comfortable with, the safest, easiest option is to call in an electrician.
You absolutely will not need a professional to set up a new wireless home security system like those offered by Frontpoint. Most of these components are battery-powered or plug easily into a wall outlet. They are designed for simple, out-of-the-box functionality almost as soon as you turn them on. Set-up takes about 30 minutes, as does removing them. And remember that most of these devices attach to surfaces with an easily replaceable adhesive strip, and some can just be set on a shelf.
Hardwired security systems have been around for decades. They’ve generally done their job well, but wireless security systems are more effective because there is so much more that they can do—and they don’t require wires or a telephone landline to work.
Every homeowner, landlord, or renter who is looking for strong, convenient home security should join the wireless revolution.
Frontpoint keeps families safer and more connected in their everyday lives. We've been revolutionizing the home security industry for over a decade. And we're just getting started. To shop DIY home security systems, check out our Security Packages. If you have questions or would like to discuss a quote, contact us at 1-877-602-5276.
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