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Wireless Home Security 101 – Wireless Sensors Go the Distance

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November 24, 2010
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Wireless Home Security 101 – Wireless Sensors Go the Distance

Back in the early days of FrontPoint, I spent a lot of time on the phone, with thousands of potential customers. Even with the additional services that we now offer, these conversations have changed little, and generally include the following topics:

  • How the customer plans to use the alarm systems (only when away, or also when at home).
  • The actual layout of the home.
  • Accessibility from outside, particularly the back and sides of the house.
  • Why cellular monitoring is safer.
  • Interactive services (remote arm/disarm, apps, notifications, video, etc.).
  • The range of the wireless sensors.

These are all important aspects of a properly designed alarm system, and I’ve covered most them specifically in this blog (here’s a link to the post on alarm system design). One issue I have not yet addressed here is the range of the wireless sensors themselves.

Most folks shopping for alarm systems today are aware that wireless alarm sensors have become the norm for home security. The term “wireless” normally refers to how the sensors talk to the central control unit in your home: not to be confused with how your alarm system talks to the monitoring center, since the safest and most reliable method of communicating alarm events is through a cellular link, and that is a very different meaning for “wireless.” Sadly, few alarm companies today follow FrontPoint’s lead and employ 100% cellular monitoring – even though they should!

Today's blog focuses on the sensors themselves. The two largest alarm equipment makers in the US, GE Security and Honeywell, indicate that wireless sensors now dominate new home security installations (here’s a link to my recent post on the benefits of wireless sensors). One reason for this is that the sensors combine reliability and flexibility with a long rage – much longer than your home Wi-Fi network. The GE wireless sensors sold by FrontPoint have been extensively tested, and have a range of up to 300 feet when transmitting through open air. In fact, many FrontPoint customers add sensors to detached garages, barns, workshops, or other outbuildings, using only the one control panel in the home as the “brains” of the system.

In your home, the sensor range will be reduced by construction methods and materials to something less, but has been sufficient for any home we have protected. We use 100 feet as a comfortable range guideline in the home, and as many people have found, this distance is far greater than the range of most Wi-Fi networks. I lived in a long, narrow house in CT, and needed a “booster” to get stretch my Wi-Fi from the router at one end of the house to my office at the other end – but my GE sensors worked just fine over the same distance.

So, there’s your answer. Expect longer range through open air, and that range allow you to protect your shed or other detached building. In the home, even if you live in a multi-level rambler, you should be just fine: this is just one more advantage of wireless technology. FrontPoint also finds almost half its customers adding sensors over time, because it’s so simple (and affordable): smoke and heat sensors, additional doors or windows, and freeze or water sensors. As the nationwide leader in interactive, wireless home security, FrontPoint wants you to feel safe and secure, at home or wherever your travels take you – and reliable long-range sensors help make that happen.

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