Hardwired versus Wireless Alarms

Thankfully huge advances have been made in wireless technology over the last 10 years. Wireless technologies such as blue tooth, wi-fi and Near Field Communication that we rely on everyday were not even thought of 15 years ago. It’s only relatively recently that we could count on blanket mobile phone coverage in metropolitan Melbourne. Security systems have benefited enormously from these advances to the point where a wireless alarm system offers the same reliability and protection for your home as a hardwired system.

Back in the early 80’s when I started out as an apprentice at Guardmaster,  wireless security equipment was primitive. The motion sensors were huge, ugly clunky boxes that were extremely power-hungry. The single 9 volt battery that powered the sensors only lasted 3 or 4 months and the customer had no reliable way to check for themselves if the battery was ok. The radio range was poor and the communications between the main panel and the detector was patchy and subject to interference from common household appliances such as microwave ovens and later, wireless doorbells.

By comparison a modern wireless motion sensor is so efficiently designed it can operate continuously for 5 years using 2 lithium batteries. I should point out that I’m talking specifically about the Bosch wireless detectors because they are the system I install more of, owing to their reliability and high performance.

The Ness, Hills, Crow and Honeywell systems may offer similar battery performance.

How Reliable Are They?

The detectors automatically check in to the main control panel at regular intervals – normally every 6 hours. If the panel fails to hear from a particular detector,  a warning message is displayed on the code pad which identifies the fault and the detector that is affected. If you have back-to-base monitoring, the system will also alert the monitoring station.

The user is advised of a low battery in a detector in the same way. Once a low battery message has been triggered, the detector is still fully functional for around 90 days, giving you plenty of time to replace it.

I always leave full instructions and demonstrate the battery replacement procedure during the installation. There are also several videos on this site showing how to replace the batteries in the detectors, remote controls and the main control panel. Of course either myself or one of our trained technicians would be happy to replace the batteries for you if required.

So When Do I Recommend Wireless Over Hardwired Systems?

Wireless systems are without doubt the best option for an existing 2 story home.  The reason for this is that there is no ceiling cavity (no man-hole) on the ground floor so there is no way to install the concealed cabling. (If you are planning to build a 2 stores home we can install a Hardwired system by running the cables during the frame stage of construction).

Hardwired systems are still the preferred option for most single story contemporary-style homes. It’s not that the Hardwired sensors perform better – in fact apart from the built-in radio transmitter, the electronics inside the wireless and Hardwired sensors are identical. It really comes down to the convenience of not having to change batteries – even though it’s a once-every-five-year job.

If you have any questions or want to discuss your particular requirements, send me an email and either Robbie or myself will do our best to answer any questions or special requirements you may have.

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