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How Wireless Burglar Alarm Systems Work

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By: Editor
August 1, 2013
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How Wireless Burglar Alarm Systems Work

Police confirm that alarm systems are effective burglar deterrents, and recommend them to homeowners for security and peace of mind. But how do they work? And what’s the difference between a wireless burglar alarm and any other type?

Let’s start with the basics of any burglar alarm system. They have three components: 1) Sensors to detect intrusion, 2) Controls (or Keypad) to sound the alarm and 3) a Monitoring Station manned by a trained staff, for fast response in emergency situations.

With wireless alarm systems, the sensors communicate with the control panel over a wireless frequency. If the alarm system is 100% wireless, the control panel also communicates wirelessly with the monitoring station, over a cellular network. This wireless feature is known as cellular monitoring, and is considered safer than wired monitoring connections.

Wireless vs. Other Burglar Alarm Systems

In recent years, customers have enthusiastically welcomed the wireless variety of alarm equipment, due to the ease of installation. With wired systems, sensors are permanently installed in the walls of the home and wired together. Wires, of course, are vulnerable to both natural and deliberate breakage. Occasional consumer complaints have recorded incidents of “Christmas-tree-light Syndrome” in which failure of one sensor triggers a daisy-chain event, bringing down all the other sensors in the system.

Primarily, however, customers choose the best home security because the setup is quick and painless, with no drilling or wiring. The wireless alarm system is more flexible, because the sensors can be rearranged easily, any time, or moved to an entirely new location/home. Many consumers now choose the DIY (do-it-yourself) route for alarm system setup, avoiding installation fees.

Cellular vs. Other Burglar Alarm Systems

As we mentioned above, a cellular control panel is the second component of a 100% wireless burglar alarm. For decades, alarm systems used the home landline phone for the connection. Now that some major cable companies have entered the security market, they are leveraging the home broadband connection for alarm system monitoring. Unfortunately, an internet connection is notoriously unreliable. Phone connections are more dependable than internet, but they, too, can fall victim to storms or construction projects.

The bigger concern, however is the burglar. As noted security industry expert Peter Rogers explains in his blog, burglars frequently cut the phone or cable lines into the home, before breaking in. At that point the home is unprotected. The alarm will go off inside, but the monitoring station will not get the alert and will be unable to send help.

To enjoy the safety and the simplicity benefits of a wireless home alarm system, both the sensor connections and the communication with the monitoring station must be wireless. For more on the benefits of wireless home security, see the list provided in Peter’s blog.

How Wireless Intrusion Sensors Work

The most common intrusion detection device is a door or window sensor. They are usually two-piece rectangular devices, no larger than 1” x 2”. During setup, the two pieces are placed next to each other on either side of the door or window frame, where they connect to each other wirelessly. They are “happy” as long as they can sense their other half next to them. When the door or window opens, however, the two pieces of the sensor move apart, and they can detect that displacement. If the alarm system is armed, the sensor will then trigger an alert to the control panel. The control panel usually waits 30-60 seconds for the homeowner to type in a disarm code (in case it’s a false alarm). If no disarm code is provided, the control panel sends a cellular alarm to the monitoring station, as well as sounding an audible alarm inside the house.

In addition to door and window sensors, most comprehensive home alarm systems include options such as motion detectors and glass-break sensors, also designed to detect intrusion. There are also smoke sensors to protect against fire, as well as sensors to detect water leaks, freezing pipes and carbon monoxide.

Recently wireless security cameras have gained popularity in the home security arena. Users can monitor live video footage from their home, anytime, over the internet. Many security camera systems also trigger a recorded video clip whenever a security sensor in the home signals an alert.

“Crash-and-Smash” – Another Wireless Break-through

What happens if the burglar destroys your alarm system’s control panel in that short delay before it signals the monitoring station? This common burglary scenario prompted another technological break-through known as “Crash-and-Smash.” Developed by, FrontPoint Security’s technology partner, “Crash-and-Smash” is an important safety feature of’s patented Interactive Monitoring services.

As Peter Rogers describes in his blog on this topic:

“… the radio sends a cellular signal as soon as the first sensor is triggered, and treats the signal like an intrusion – so it doesn’t matter if the panel gets smashed or not. Your home is still protected.”

For more on “Crash-and-Smash,” read Peter’s blog on that topic. For a real-life example of the technology in action, watch this video from a FrontPoint customer in Michigan whose FrontPoint security system leveraged Crash-and-Smash protection to catch the crooks that tried to rob him.

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Burglar Alarms Nottingham
August 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM
thank you for identifying the benefits of wireless burglar alarms and how they differ from other systems. Burglar alarms offer a great deterrent for intruders and burglars and it is a popular security measure in the UK.
Peter M. Rogers
September 17, 2013 at 8:38 PM
You are welcome! Perhaps some day we'll see each other in the UK - but for now FrontPoint is plenty busy providing peace of mind all across the US and Canada. Cheers!
Burglar Alarms Nottingham
August 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM
thank you for identifying the benefits of wireless burglar alarms and how they differ from other systems. Burglar alarms offer a great deterrent for intruders and burglars and it is a popular security measure in the UK.
Peter M. Rogers
September 17, 2013 at 8:38 PM
You are welcome! Perhaps some day we'll see each other in the UK - but for now FrontPoint is plenty busy providing peace of mind all across the US and Canada. Cheers!
July 8, 2014 at 8:12 PM
Great article. Security alarm systems always provide peace of mind to home owners and business owners, and worth every penny. Just leave the installation to the professionals because they know their job. Safety is the Most Important Thing today.
Jamie Botzer
July 9, 2014 at 1:14 PM
Thanks for checking out our article on wireless burglar alarm systems, Adam. Security is a very important issue, and I agree that good security alarm systems provide the peace of mind consumers want and need. At FrontPoint, we've been able to provide easy, yet technologically-advanced, self-setup home alarm systems that protect customers even better than the old models. Technology has come a long way since the professionally-installed systems had their heyday, so we're glad that we can offer our customers the best and easiest in home security.
Angela Downer
February 17, 2015 at 4:18 PM
I have been wondering what the difference is between wire alarms and wireless ones. I guess the biggest appealing factor to me would be that wireless systems can be cellular based. This means that if I'm on vacation and I forget to set up the alarm system (which happens a lot more often the older I'm getting), I can simply turn it on from my phone. This would be extremely helpful to me because I am so prone to forgetting to do things.
Gilbert Cho
February 18, 2015 at 1:54 PM
Hi Angela, safety and reliability are the main differences between a wired alarm system versus a wireless one. A wired system relies on your hardwired telephone or broadband connection to transmit its signals, and those can be disabled by a burglar with minimal resistance. Whereas with a wireless system, it transmits its signal through a cellular connection, meaning a burglar would have to go to a lot of trouble to disable the system. Here's a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">older blog post</a> by Peter Rogers that can help explain the difference in more detail. You're also absolutely right about the 'convenience' advantage of a cellular-based system. You can arm and disarm your system, check its status and receive notifications, all through your phone. Many other Frontpoint features can come in handy too if you're forgetful (I'm pretty forgetful too). You can set up your system to send you a notification if you forgot to arm your system after you've left the home, automatically turn lights on or off and even adjust the thermostat. Please feel free to ask if you have any other questions, I'd be happy to help in any way I can. I can also let a member of our team know if you'd like to discuss things over the phone. Thank you!
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March 26, 2015 at 5:42 AM
I don't know whether it's just me or if everybody else encountering problems with your site. It looks like some of the written text within your posts are running off the screen. Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them too? This may be a problem with my browser because I've had this happen previously. Kudos
Valerie Saponara
March 26, 2015 at 2:02 PM
Brandon, thank you for the heads up! We have double checked and we are not seeing any written text running off the screen. It sounds like it is most likely your computer or browser, and we wish you the best of luck getting that fixed.
April 7, 2015 at 6:38 AM
Nice and informative blog , Thanks for sharing!! And I agree with you that everyone should install Wireless Burgular Alarm systems at their home or at the business place to protect their property from unexpected damage.
April 15, 2015 at 9:14 PM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Wireless Home Security Systems. Regards
Ken Humes
March 25, 2016 at 7:19 AM
Wireless security alarm systems are perfect for installation in a home that wasn't wired for an alarm system after or during the construction time. Motion sensors, door contacts and window contacts can all be wireless, and not need to be hardwired back to the main control panel. Even the control keypad can be wireless. Numerous types of wireless components use RF or better known as radio waves to transmit their signals back to the main control panel. The only disadvantage of wired systems is that the wireless components run on batteries that will need to be replaced once in a while. These batteries generally last for years, yet lots of alarm companies offer service and maintenance plans that will cover the replacement batteries and the installation of them. Recently, I have also made my office and home secure with these wireless burglar alarms systems. For that I called installations experts from and they completed their security system installation job within an hour or so. Bow I have my piece of mind. I thank you also for sharing this post with us and encouraging people about getting these security gadget to get installed.
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August 20, 2016 at 7:09 AM
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