Wireless security-- what it means and what is best

Wireless security really has two meanings, and a lot of companies muddy the airwaves by using this term and saying that wireless is better across the board. They want you to buy their product. That is why they spend so much on ads.

I’m FOR one kind of wireless in virtually every case (wireless communications), and AGAINST wireless for upgrading hardwired systems unless the wires have been damaged extensively.

The case for not throwing away the hardwired system

I am and always have been an environmentalist. From the “give a hoot, don’t pollute” ads of my youth, and Smokey the Bear, and being a Girl Scout picking up trash to leave places better than I found them. So I can’t say that wireless is better in all cases. The batteries used have to be replaced every few years. That’s not great for the environment, because some of those batteries aren’t going to be recycled.

If you have a hard-wired system now, you’ve got a great investment that can be upgraded simply by changing out the master panel and keypads. If wall-mounted devices have yellowed over the years, swap those out for new ones— it will be cheaper than buying a new wireless one, and it won’t come with the maintenance cost of batteries and time changing them.

If you have 3 keypads, it can get pretty expensive. Here’s how to modernize cost effectively: Upgrade 1 keypad and the master panel, and add a cellular communicator that works with an app you can use on your smartphones, tablets, and computers. You will have a virtual keypad everywhere you go if you do that. (FYI The newest all-wireless systems usually only have one keypad or controller.)

Wireless door/ window switch and magnet

Wireless door/ window switch and magnet

Changing out door and window switches that are hardwired and making them wireless can leave you with devices in plain sight that used to be discretely hidden. That is not an improvement. (If necessary, it is a nice option to have, admittedly)

Wireless motion detector

Wireless motion detector

Another thing that isn’t good for the environment is tossing aside used circuit boards and plastic cases without thought. Are we lusting after the newest device, the sleekest thing, and forgetting about the landfills were building up? There are reminders everywhere to urge us to upgrade to the newest thing, but we need to be critical of the claims. Are they really offering something new that couldn’t have been done before? The hard-wired system on your wall has the flexibility to do hundreds of things beyond what you needed— a lot of the new wireless systems are touted as being more useful, but the older ones had most of the same capabilities.

The “simple” system that you hear about on the radio and TV constantly? The designer’s most revolutionary idea is really just that people could install them on their own using an app. Radio Shack always had kits that did the same thing. The guy just made it work with an app and used prettier cases on the devices for our modern tastes. Other manufacturers have DIY kits— we offer a great one that can be relocated and expanded as your needs change. It installs with an app, you can view multiple location in the same app, and add cameras and automation.

Honeywell’s Lyric controller

Honeywell’s Lyric controller

Nortek’s 2GIG GC2

Nortek’s 2GIG GC2

“Takeover modules” or “Harwired to wireless modules” are a better option than ripping out wires. You would use one of those to switch to a system that is really made to be wireless. 2GIG has one and so does Honeywell. You can use them to switch to the GC2 (2GIG) or Honeywell’s Lyric panels.

The case for wireless communication for alarm systems

no landline needed.jpg

Here’s why you should want “wireless”— you should abandon using a landline phone and use the much less vulnerable digital cellular communicator. They have come down in price to be very affordable (from $600 years ago to $99 or so now). We provide installation labor for free to encourage the upgrade. There are no cables outside the building vulnerable to tampering (internet monitoring leaves those cables vulnerable, as does VoIP phone line use).

The cellular communicator has battery back-up. Your VoIP might not. Your internet router might not. Your cordless plain old phones might not.


If you are keeping the landline phone for other reasons and it is still working properly for transmitting alarm signals, keep it. If you change phone providers, test it afterward. Every time. If you change providers, your search for a better deal may be harming your security. You won’t have to worry about that if you upgrade to wireless communications (cellular communicator).

There is an additional monthly fee— but it is way less than a landline phone (we charge $8). You’ll save money, and increase the reliability of your security system.

Wireless is here to stay. Thank God it is more reliable than it was in the 80s! Batteries are better and it is easier to recycle them. Wireless communications make it easier to reach people wherever they are, any time of day or night. Our networks have gotten better, cheaper to use, and highly reliable. Wireless is a good thing, but it isn’t necessary to ditch things that are working and start from scratch if you have a wired security system.