Putting Wireless to Work for You Part 1: Intrusion

Improved range and reliability, along with comparatively low installation costs, are making wireless security more than just practical for commercial projects. In many cases, it’s a necessary choice for integrators to remain competitive and profitable.

Whether it is a financial institution, a retail store or any commercial building, the story is the same: security budgets are tight and customers have a short timeframe to install and update their security systems. With budgets and time constraints increasingly an issue, wireless intrusion technology has become an invaluable tool because of the labor savings of not pulling wire from the security panel out to the sensors.

Depending on the difficulty of the installation, the savings can be profound. And there are many environments that simply cannot be hardwired. Wireless technology has overcome practical obstacles and is increasingly seeing widespread acceptance. It is now at a point where range and reliability make it more than just practical for commercial installations; in many cases it’s a necessary choice to remain competitive and profitable.

Wireless security networks are being deployed in commercial environments more today than ever before. As recently as five years ago, many believed wireless was best suited for residential applications, but increasingly commercial customers are coming to expect jobs will be finished faster with little to no disruption to their businesses and their buildings.

Advances in technology and applications have brought the industry to the point where commercial wireless is ready for primetime. As commercial enterprises become convinced of the reliability, value and dependability of a wireless approach, they continue to expand the use of wireless to additional locations, facilities and, especially, applications. Some of the most recognizable facilities in the world have adopted wireless security systems for their buildings, providing a testament to the maturity and proven performance of the underlying technology.

Building a Sense of Trust

When safety is of paramount importance, organizations need to feel confident in their wireless partner. Sophisticated communication protocols used by leading wireless providers eliminate false alarms due to radio interference.


Wireless sensor networks using 900MHz technology are a solid choice for commercial security and life-safety applications. Networks using this frequency can process data quickly, and are easily deployed and expandable as system needs change and grow. The most sophisticated 900MHz networks can support several different applications, such as a security system and fire extinguisher monitoring, at the same time on the same network.

Retrofits and new-build commercial properties can both benefit from a wireless approach that decreases the costs of cable and installation labor. When a security system is upgraded, during a store remodel for example, the installation cost of a wireless approach provides significant savings compared to a hardwired solution.

“Applications and equipment can be integrated into the wireless sensor network by simply mounting devices where they are needed,” says Doug Yarger, owner of Southcross, a Houston-based security integrator. “This process doesn’t disrupt employees, their workflow or even the architecture itself.”

Proving Performance

Wireless devices are often used in remote or hard-to-access locations, so signal verification is critical. The ability to verify the endpoint is working properly and the transmissions are reaching the head-end as intended gives wireless a performance advantage. It also provides installers and end users the confidence that their system is as reliable as a wired system.

Verifying endpoints is managed by a native process known as system supervision. The endpoint and repeaters send “state of health” check-in messages to notify the receiver of their presence and condition. Transmitters automatically send supervisory messages to the receiver on a regular basis. The check-in does more than verify for the existence and working condition of the endpoint, it also tests for low battery, tamper and inactive conditions.

Another advantage compared to a wired system is wireless’ ability to ‘self-heal.’ If the check-in message comes back negative or the environment has changed due to manual reconfiguration, the system will heal itself by finding an alternate path of communication from any specific endpoint to target destination. This is an automatic feature of wireless systems and requires no configuration or activation by the end user or installer.

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