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.

[IMAGE]12092[/IMAGE]Another speedy installation feature of some wireless solutions is quick enrollment, which enables the security contractor to set the keypad in auto-detection mode in order to discover and recognize each device. The system will automatically grab the serial number and communicate to the control panel what kind of component is detected, greatly reducing the time to program the overall wireless security system.

Range and Reliability Concerns

Some security contractors remain apprehensive about wireless solutions and favor traditional systems instead, despite the added time and financial investment it takes to pull wires. Oftentimes their concerns focus on whether or not wireless really works and is able to provide the customer with the reliable alarm system they demand.

Most homes in North America are less than 5,000 square feet in size. This means wireless range and reliability concerns are nonfactors for today’s wireless alarm systems, which are designed to handle dwellings of that size. The radio broadcast signals of these systems can pass through walls, ensuring all devices are able to communicate with one another.

One fact that few security contractors recognize is many wireless alarm systems are less likely to need unscheduled service calls. Part of the reason is because the longer the battery life in the alarm system and accessories, the fewer calls for service. For example, the battery life of a wireless PIR sensor can be three to five years.

While the wireless residential alarm market has moved past these specific concerns, a new round of questions have come to light as wireless alarm systems begin to enter the commercial security market on a regular basis.

On the commercial side, wireless alarm systems are beginning to make inroads due to many of the same basic advantages realized in the residential market. Not the least of which is that pulling large amounts of cable to connect each door and window contact, motion detector and glass-break sensor can prove expensive.

Certainly, because of square footage differences and varied architectural dynamics, a wireless solution for a commercial property can be uniquely different compared to a more straightforward residential installation. For example, commercial settings are often replete with existing radio-frequency (RF) noise from a wide variety of electronic equipment, plus installers will have to contend with the influence of buildings materials on RF signals.

In such cases, wireless installations in these environments often require wireless repeaters to ensure the RF signal can travel from the wireless device to the control panel.

Benefits of 2-Way Communication

Another significant development in the wireless alarm systems space is two-way wireless communication. When first introduced, industry professionals either recognized the value of this innovative communications approach or viewed it as too expensive to incorporate into products.

However, today more installers see the overall value of wireless alarm systems as an alternative to hardwired systems. Thus a real need has developed for smart, two-way wireless communicati
ons. With two-way wireless, the control panel and remote devices communicate with each other. Essentially this bidirectional communication is akin to a phone conversation where the devices are able to pass information back and forth.

It should be noted that one-way communication does not provide a bidirectional path and thereby does not provide constant communication with the control panel about the status of the alarm system. It’s critical to know the health or connection status of wireless sensors or other devices, which is a benefit of two-way wireless communication.

Some figures show that 15 percent of the security market today has deployed a two-way wireless communication system. But that percentage is expected to increase given the positive benefits and automation capabilities these systems offer, such as remote arming and disarming using a key fob.

Here’s an example of the possibilities with two-way communication: When a user presses a key fob button to arm the alarm system, the panel then transmits a signal back to the device and initiates a confirmation message that can be read on its graphical display. This would not be possible without two-way wireless communication technology.

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