WHICH IS BETTER? If you call around to several alarm companies you will probably get a variety of different opinions as to which is better. Some will tell you that wireless is better because you don’t have to do any drilling – less chance of cutting into a water pipe and much less messy. Others will tell you that hardwired is the way to go because you don’t have to change any batteries or because the hardwired sensors are smaller and more aesthetically pleasing. Some will say that one or the other is more reliable. My answer is… it depends on the application. There are times when a hardwired installation is superior and there are times when a wireless installation is superior. There are also times when it is best to use a combination of both wireless and hardwired. Below I have listed some factors to take into consideration.
IS WIRELESS RELIABLE? It may surprise you but it has been my experience that hardwired sensors and wireless sensors are equally reliable. We use Honeywell equipment almost exclusively because it is extremely reliable. I cannot say the same for other brands. Failures of Honeywell hardwire and Honeywell wireless equipment are very infrequent.
WHAT ABOUT COST? Hardwired equipment is about 1/10th the cost of wireless equipment. That said, why would any company ever install wireless. Imagine that you want to put an alarm system in a 2 story house. How are you going to get the wires from the 2nd floor attic to 1st floor windows? If you know anything about home construction you will realize that this would take a lot of time and extensive drywall repair $$$. In this scenario you would be saving both time and money by going with wireless sensors.
AESTHETICS – First let me point out that there is very little difference between the size and style of hardwired vs. wireless motion sensors, glass break sensors, and smoke detectors. They look about the same. However, when it comes to door and window sensors there is a big difference. Generally speaking, hardwired door and window sensors are much smaller and thus more attractive than wireless door and window sensors. However, Honeywell now makes a recessed door/window contact which disappears into the frame of the door or window.
WHAT ABOUT BATTERY LIFE? With Honeywell wireless equipment (which we use almost exclusively) the battery life is typically 5 – 7 years. Honeywell wireless sensors are also self-monitoring. So, if your front door battery gets low you will get a message and an audible beep at the keypad indicating that the battery in the front door sensor needs to be changed.
MY HOUSE IS PRE-WIRED – If your home is prewired you definitely want to use the existing wires. This will save you money and will be more aesthetically pleasing than switching to wireless. However there are situations where you would want to add wireless equipment to your prewired home. For example, my brother-in-law is adding 4 wireless glass-break sensors to his basement because the house was not pre-wired for glass-breaks in the basement.
MY HOUSE IS NOT PRE-WIRED – If your home is not prewired there is a good chance that you will be using either wireless sensors exclusively or a combination of some wireless and some hardwire.