When & Where Wireless Works Best

Advances in wireless security systems continue to increase installation conveniences, therby reducing costs for installers and customers alike. Learn how these systems are now comparable to hardwired systems, the advantages of two-way wireless transmission, plus market prospects in wireless perimeter protection.

New developments with wireless security systems are increasingly affording installers freedom from the constraints common to hardwired alarm systems. This independence from cabling results in lower installation times and allows security contractors access to a larger base of residential customers compared to offering traditional hardwired systems only.

Wireless security systems have come a long way since being introduced more than 40 years ago. Once considered unreliable and difficult to install, many security professionals now recognize these systems as dependable, cost effective and easy to install. Add to that the introduction of hybrid wireless systems, which enable security contractors to fully leverage the benefits of each type of system, and installers can tap into the best of both worlds.

IMS Research estimates that shipments of wireless alarm products, including wireless sensors and wireless alarm panels, will double in volume through 2014. What’s more, according to SSI‘s latest annual Installation Business Report (IBR), 47 percent of intrusion installations include wireless equipment; 20 percent exclusively.

With that positive forecast in mind, security contractors will want to keep pace with the growing opportunities for wireless security systems in the residential market, but also commercial niches as well.

In this article, we’ll examine some of the installation particulars surrounding wireless technology, such as transmission range, system reliability and the benefits of two-way communications. Also discussed: opportunities in wireless perimeter protection, both from the functional perspective of the end user and the profitability outlook for the security contractor.

Wireless Installation Basics

A great many electronic security professionals can well appreciate the benefits a wireless system provides to the installing contractor community. Wireless brings to mind the freedom to mount a device at nearly any wall or ceiling location. This convenience is especially important in older homes and buildings in certain geographic locations where cable runs can involve drilling through stucco walls or concrete cinderblocks in order to connect alarm system components.

For the homeowner and installer alike, drilling holes can prove a costly proposition. Repairs that have to be made to damaged walls and the additional time it would take for the installer to run wires can quickly add unnecessary expense to the project.

Independence from a hardwired power source means that security contractors are not restricted to using a nearby electric source to operate the system. The resulting advantage is the alarm system can continue to operate in the event of a power failure, especially if the control panel maintains wireless communication capabilities with the monitoring center. It also eliminates the concern of a burglar cutting the power lines to disable the security system.

Wireless alarm components can also be installed in the most optimal location for operating the system, and not solely dictated by where the wires are situated. For example, a wireless keypad mounted near the homeowner’s bed allows for convenient system arm/disarm functionality when the user retires for the evening or wakes in the morning.

Wireless also provides greater flexibility should a homeowner want to install an alarm system on a detached garage or other outbuilding, such as a pool house, enabling the installer to wirelessly connect the system from one building on a single property with the main house.

Beyond the placement flexibility a wireless system provides, security contractors also need to recognize the important role of placement testing. Many systems on the market today offer a method to test the signal strength of the wireless device to ensure it is placed in an optimal location.

This capability can come in the form of a testing function built into the keypad or other device that is part of the overall wireless security system. It works like this: the security contractor walks around a home with the keypad or a passive infrared (PIR) detector in hand. That device indicates either on the LCD display or by a flashing light that the wireless signal strength from that location to the control panel is strong.

Without this capability, a security contractor would have to go back and forth from the panel to set up each wireless device, especially if the control panel didn’t recognize the device because it was not placed in an ideal location. A worst-case scenario would require the security contractor to return to the property for a service call because the panel stops recognizing the devices altogether.

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