Smart Home Security Systems: Wireless vs Traditional Wired Alarms

The world is falling out of love with wires. From phones to speakers, we’re cutting the cord. But what about the important stuff like home security? For all their chunky looks and trailing wires, traditional systems do offer reliability. Are smart alarm systems really safe enough to step in?

We’re going to run you through everything you need to know before you choose your system, from considerations to the pros and cons of a wireless system over a wired system.

6 things to consider when choosing between a wired or wireless alarm system

Here are 6 key considerations when choosing between a traditional wired alarm and wireless smart home security system.

1. How do you want to monitor your home?

Traditional systems are usually connected to your phone’s landline and from there to an alarm receiving centre (ARC) where your home is professionally monitored. If your alarm is activated, the monitoring centre will call you to check it’s not a false burglar alarm, if they can’t reach you, or they believe a burglary is in progress they will contact the police. Crucially, you will have what’s known as a ‘graded’ system which means it’s been tested to meet stringent UK and European alarm standards. With a ‘graded’ system the police have a unique reference number on file with your address and will attend as a matter of priority. The key advantage is that whatever happens, if there is an intruder in your home you know action will be taken. The disadvantage is that you’re reliant on the alarm company to tell you what’s happening. And, if your family’s prone to mishaps and the police are called to three false alarms you’ll be struck off. Leaving you with a very expensive bell on the wall and little else.

In contrast, smart home security systems give you the option to monitor your home yourself, with all the life-simplifying features smart tech naturally bring. Smart systems use sensors and cameras to detect intruders. They tend to communicate via Wi-Fi , Z-WaveⓇ, Zigbee or proprietary software, with a central unit that uses Wi-Fi or cellular back-up to alert you via your smartphone if an intruder is detected. Instant notifications to your phone show you at a glance what’s wrong, and what you do next is up to you.

Some smart systems offer a professional monitoring service, however not being ‘graded’ systems means they cannot offer a police approved direct link. How they confirm a break-in differs. Alarm Receiving Centres (ARCs) may drop in on cameras inside your home, or send a guard around (there’s usually a fee for this service) because they have to identify the intruder as hostile before any action is taken. If a burglary is in progress, they will notify the police in the same way you would do yourself, with a call to 999. There is no guarantee of response and, if given, (according NPCC guidelines) may be significantly slower than a response to a ‘graded’ system.

Boundary offers you the best of both worlds WITH a choice of monitoring options AND all without the wires. It is one of the only smart home security systems on the market in the UK designed to meet ‘Grade 2’ UK and European standards (certification pending). Meaning it will match any wired system for reliability, security and a police approved false alarm rating. In early 2022 we will add a monthly plan offering direct police response to match traditional systems.

2. How much do you want to pay?

Another key difference between traditional and smart out-of-the-box solutions is price. Traditional systems command a price premium that has gone unchallenged for decades. You’ll typically pay more for a traditional system each month, and there may never be an option to use the hardware for free. Whereas, smart systems, including Boundary offer a range of subscription or plan options starting from free, depending on the features you think you’ll use.

3. Are you happy to lock-in to a contract?

Whatever type of system you go for, always check to see whether there is a long-term contract attached. Having invested up front in the hardware, be sure you know what the monthly running costs are likely to be. With Boundary each plan is on a simple 30 day rolling contract. You can upgrade, downgrade and cancel at any time.

If you’re in any doubt about whether you might want police response in future, it’s best to have your system professionally installed at the outset.

4. How do you want to install your new system?

It’s a prerequisite of any system with a police direct response that the system must be installed by an accredited professional. The same will be true of Boundary with police monitoring, and why we’ll be offering a choice of self-install or pro-install when you purchase your system. If you prefer self-monitoring, unlike traditional wired systems, the choice is up to you. A few basic tools are all that’s needed. Even the Boundary external alarm siren only needs a cross-head screwdriver, a small set of stepladders and a drill.

5. How do you want to maintain your alarm system?

With traditional systems you only have one option – annual maintenance, and the fee for this visit is obviously woven into your monthly bill. It’s worth checking with any system provider whether maintenance visits are ‘extra’.

Apart from the hub, all Boundary components run on standard long-life Lithium batteries and are self-testing. You’ll receive a notification when it’s time to change the batteries, roughly once a year, and if any of the sensors are not working they will let you know with alerts to your phone. With long-life components incorporated into the hardware, short of a battery change, there is nothing else to do, even the software updates are done remotely over-the-air. And if you do plump for a Pro plan with police response down the line we’ll do a remote maintenance check and change the batteries for you every year.

6. How comfortable are you with wires leading to your doors and windows?

It may not be the greatest consideration when your family’s security is at stake, but it is a consideration nonetheless. Wireless technology offers you a sleek, modern design solution with the option to mount sensors using heavy duty sticky labels or screws (a must for police response). With so many more electrical products around the home, for many it’s a big plus not having to introduce yet more trailing cables.

The pros & cons of a wireless alarm system

As providers of a world-class wireless security system, we know a thing or two about what makes them such a great option.

Pros

Cons

  • No messy wires
  • No need to get an electrician in to lay additional wires securely
  • Harder to tamper with no wires to cut
  • Move your motion sensors whenever you want
  • Take your home alarm system with you when you move, without any hassle
  • Add additional motion sensors, contact sensors and devices easily, without having to wire them in
  • Secure Z-Wave® technology makes wireless technology tamperproof
  • More cost-effective. Save on maintenance and installation.
  • Not affected by powercuts
  • Perfect for renters who can’t install wires
  • While battery life tends to be long, you’ll still need to remember to change them
  • You may still need to get a pro in to install more complex systems

The pros & cons of a wired alarm system

Pros

Cons

  • No batteries means they don’t need changing
  • No need for wi-fi to operate
  • Many have been manufactured for years and are reliable
  • You’ll have to have the pros round to install your new system
  • Wires will have to be added across your home, which can be both ugly and expensive
  • Adding sensors and devices to your system isn’t a simple thing to do, they’ll all need hardwiring
  • Burglars know all the tricks for tampering with wired systems
  • Power cuts can leave you defenseless
  • Ongoing maintenance and installation costs make it an expensive option
  • Cables are prone to damage, from weather, pets, rodents or burglars

Home alarm systems: wired vs wireless, the choice is yours

Ultimately, the decision comes down to trust. That’s why, at Boundary, it was so important for us to design a smart system that is every bit as reliable and secure as a wired system, with all the advanced life-simplifying possibilities of smart technology. We believe our system will protect you and your family for many years to come.

Why not design your own alarm system or try one of our pre-made security bundles so you can protect your home with the latest in wireless security technology.