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Wired vs Wireless Security Systems: What’s the Difference?

Home security breaks down into two categories: wired vs wireless security systems. Both of the designs have their uses, and knowing what makes them unique will help you choose the best security system for you.  

Finding the proper security system can help you with your peace of mind by bringing you extra safety. Here’s what to consider in the debate between a wired versus a wireless security system.

Wired Security Systems

Wired systems are hardwired into your property’s electric system and run a line to a monitoring source. You will have to use multiple wires to these systems, and you will have to wire them to your internet if they have that option. 

You can usually change the device these cameras plug into for monitoring. 

Wireless Security Systems

Wireless systems have batteries and can be powered by solar energy so they don’t have to plug into a wall outlet or have to be hardwired.

From there, they send data wirelessly through your internet or a direct wireless connection to a monitoring source. Many wireless options can stream to your device via smart home systems, or they can record to a memory card or hard drive. 

Since solar-powered and battery-powered wireless security systems can run independently of your home’s wiring, this energy independence helps security systems like solar-powered gate openers safeguard your property, belongings, and family — even if the power goes out, or power lines are cut.

A three camera Wired Security System

Comparing the Details: Wireless Security Systems vs Wired

When deciding between wireless vs. wired security systems, understanding their strengths and weaknesses can be very useful. Starting with their reliability, let’s take a look and compare the two.

Reliability

Once you have a wired system connected, it will provide a more reliable recording. Not as much can affect the wired system itself. The wireless system is subject to interference, and if something happens to its antenna, it can stop transmitting (1). 

A wireless system may not be the most reliable or safe: connectivity issues can mean significant security breaches.

Winner: Wired Systems are more reliable. There is less that can go wrong with wired security systems. Wireless can go out at random times, which can be both frustrating and potentially dangerous.

Ease of Installation

Wired security systems take a little extra effort to install. You have to connect them directly to your home wiring, which can be challenging if you are not skilled in electrical work. Then you have to run a cord to the recording option.

Installing a wired security system often involves far more effort than popping wireless cameras onto the exterior of your home.

Wireless systems usually need a few screws to secure a base to the wall, and a quick setup of their smart home settings if they have any. Ultimately, they are much easier to connect. You may have to connect them to the internet to live stream the video, but it will record to a memory card with little setup. 

Winner: Wireless systems are easier to install.  

Power Outage Vulnerability

If the power goes out, both wired security cameras and an alarm system will stop working unless they have a backup source. They need a constant source of power to run and record. Wireless security cameras will continue to record as long as they have a battery that’s sufficiently charged. 

This added peace of mind is valuable. E.R. Stettinius, Jr., former United States Secretary of State puts it best:

Happiness has many roots, but none more important than security.

Winner: Wireless systems will keep recording when the power is out as long as their battery is charged.

Energy-Efficiency

Neither a wired nor a wireless security system is a significant drain on the power grid. Some cool features, like solar panels, can be added to your wireless system to make it more energy-efficient and increase its reliability. 

Winner: Wireless, especially when they are the solar-powered security cameras. These clever systems can help you use less energy, save you money, and help the environment.

Overall Cost

Both styles of security systems can range vastly in price. Wireless smart home security system devices can be more expensive for the product itself. On the other hand, the installation required for many wired systems can flip the script.

This helpful video from Ring can help you understand this further:

Ultimately, unless you have an available outlet in a good place already, putting in a wired system will cost you extra time or money. You have to get it powered.

Winner: Wireless is often less expensive overall. It has a similar base cost to wired, but it can be a little higher. However, you may save a lot of money on installation because professionally installing a wired alarm system, plus wired home security cameras can add up quickly.

Final Verdict

When comparing wired vs wireless security systems, they both have their uses. Look at the location you are planning on installing the security system and figure out which one will work the best in that spot.

In the end, even once you choose systems, you will have to keep up with them to make sure they work correctly, especially smart home security system devices.

FAQs

No, your security system doesn’t technically need Wi-Fi. This even includes some wireless systems, as some have built-in networks for their security system.

However, an internet connection plus a smart home security system or a hardline connection are needed to view the cameras offsite.

A wireless security camera’s battery should last approximately two months to three years, depending on the company.

For example, Ring camera batteries can go months between recharges with normal use and weather conditions above 40°F (3). Then, they typically last between six and twelve months before needing a replacement in our experience.

For more information on getting the most out of your home’s security equipment, and their batteries, check out our homepage.

Between wired and wireless security systems, the wired system is less likely to be hacked.

Like all things, if a security system, security camera, or smart home device connects to the internet, it is often possible to hack it. Remember:

“Security is not a product, but a process.” – Bruce Schneier, Security Expert (4)

A solid password will help make this less of a problem (5). However, if you Google “how to hack a wired camera” you’ll find there’s no shortage of results there as well.

  1. A survey on wireless security: Technical challenges, recent advances, and future trends. Retrieved from: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/7467419
  2. Forbes Quotes. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/quotes/2346/
  3. The Battery In My Ring Device Seems to Drain Too Fast. Retrieved from: https://support.ring.com/hc/en-us/articles/208190773-The-Battery-In-My-Ring-Device-Seems-to-Drain-Too-Fast
  4. Schneier on Security. Retrieved from: https://www.schneier.com/essays/archives/2000/04/the_process_of_secur.html
  5. Securing Your Wireless Network. Retrieved from: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0013-securing-your-wireless-network
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