October 19, 2010
Wireless Home Security 101 – Wireless Alarm Sensors are Better
“Wireless” is one of the most commonly used words today in regard to alarm systems. Most often the term refers to the how the various sensors communicate an alarm condition to the alarm control panel -the “brains” of the system. The other (very different) meaning describes how the control panel communicates to the monitoring center, i.e. with safer cellular monitoring. Today I am focused on wireless sensors, since there has been a significant technology shift in the alarm industry: we’ve finally reached the point where most of the alarm sensors being installed in US homes are wireless. You may recall my prior post on wireless alarm systems, where I listed the advantages of wireless sensors:
- 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 an “easy-install” system.
After twenty-plus years in the industry, I’m lucky to know some people in high places – like at GE Security (now part of United Technologies) and Honeywell, the two largest manufacturers of electronic security equipment. So, even though I had a pretty good idea, I asked both companies about the trend toward wireless sensors – and the clear consensus is that the majority of new home alarm systems include wireless sensors. Wireless reliability was established decades ago. In fact, the trend continues to swing away from hard-wiring for alarm systems.
Who Uses hard-Wired Sensors – and Why?
Unlike telecommunications, networking, and other faster paced industries, electronic security is surprisingly slow to adopt new technologies. Also, this industry is extremely “fragmented” – meaning, there are lots of players: roughly 13,000 alarm companies in the US, and the top 100 companies represent less than half the business. That means there are countless “mom and pop” alarm companies selling and installing equipment, and they are generally the last to break old habits – and one of those habits is hard-wired sensors. Happily, the laggards are getting there, albeit slowly! Even Brink’s/Broadview, formerly one of the most respected names in residential security, held out on changing to wireless longer than I thought possible. Of course, now that ADT has taken over the company, it’s all about wireless…
So, if anyone tells you that hard-wired sensors are the better choice, now you know better. You’re probably talking to a grizzled, die-hard veteran of the alarm industry who started out when hard-wired was the only way to go. That’s okay, we understand. FrontPoint has been a pioneer of 100% wireless systems that use wireless sensors and cellular monitoring, plus offering smarter, interactive features that put us ahead of the pack. We embrace the changes that “old school” companies find challenging - and you get the benefits.