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Looking for Wireless Home Alarm Systems?

Wireless home alarm systems are the best choice for houses without access to run wiring. They can be as simple or complex as you like, ranging from a wireless driveway alert system to a whole-house security installation.

Here are the main parts found in most wireless alarm systems, with a brief description of each. Next I'll explain the most important advantages of wireless home alarm system, along with some of the limitations.


This page describes wireless alarm functions to devices within your home. For wireless operation from your home to an alarm central station, see wireless alarm monitoring.

Common Parts of Wireless Security Alarms:

  • Main control panel and receiver
  • Keypad(s)
  • Wireless door and window transmitters
  • Wireless motion and/or glassbreak detectors
  • Wireless smoke detectors
  • Wireless keyfob remotes

Wireless home alarm systems

The Main Control Panel in wireless security systems often combines control functions with a radio receiver, either separate or built-in. It connects to keypads to operate the control, and processes radio signals sent by all of the transmitters in the system. Based on these signals, the panel detects normal, alarm, low battery, and other conditions.

Wireless keypad

can be wireless, hardwired, or both, depending on the system. Most wireless panels need at least one hardwired keypad in the system for proper operation. Additional wireless keypads are optional.

Wireless Door/Window Transmitter

Door and Window Transmitters
are used at each opening. These can be attached with screws or sticky tape, and have removable covers for battery access.

Wireless Motion Detector

Wireless Motion Detectors work almost like hardwired models, sensing infrared (heat) energy. They have one big difference: To conserve battery power, they are designed not to transmit more often than a set interval, usually every few minutes. This keeps them from running dead as they sense the normal activity of the occupants.

Wireless Glassbreak Detector

Wireless Glassbreak Detectors
operate just like hardwired glassbreaks, listening for specific sound frequencies made by breaking glass.

Wireless Smoke Detector

Wireless Smoke Detectors use the same technology as wired units, and provide the same level of fire protection. Keep in mind that adding smoke detectors may entitle you to a discount on your homeowners’ insurance.

Wireless Keyfob Remote

Wireless Remote Pennants and Keyfobs
are popular additions. They allow portable arming, disarming, and other basic functions without having to be near a keypad.

Learn more about wireless remotes at Wireless Burglar Alarm Systems Made Even Better!

Wireless Home Alarm System Diagram

Home Wireless Security Systems

Diagram of a typical wireless system with separate control panel and receiver

Yes, even a wireless alarm system does need a few wires!

The main control panel needs wiring to power, a phone line, and one wired keypad. The keypad in this example has a built-in wireless receiver.

Planning the location of the equipment can make this wiring easy. See details on Home Wireless Security Systems Layout.

Check out what types of Alarm Installation Tools you might need to put a system in yourself.

The door, window, and other sensors are battery-powered wireless transmitters. They require no wiring, and so can be placed anywhere you need them.

Because of the limited wiring needed, wireless systems are the first choice for apartments and renters. Read more on these pages:

The Best Wireless Home Alarm for Apartments and Rentals

Apartment Security System Plug-n-Play Solutions

Advantages of Wireless Home Alarms:

  • A wireless home security alarm system can be installed in almost any type of house, with no attic or basement access needed. For the same reason, devices like motion and glassbreak detectors can be placed in the ideal spot in each room to pick up activity. Hardwired systems require some path to run wires. Even then, hardwired equipment must sometimes be “fudged” to less-than-perfect locations because of limited wiring access.

  • A wireless burglar alarm is typically faster and easier to install than a hardwired system. This saves time and labor, and makes these systems a good choice if you’re going the DIY route. Do-it-yourself security systems are widely sold in kit form, and don’t require any special skills or tools to install.

  • Most wireless home alarm systems have the option of a portable keyfob or pendant. These can be used to arm and disarm the system from anywhere inside the house, and for a short distance outside it. Wireless keyfobs and pendants often have a built-in panic button. This feature allows you to sound the alarm and summon help if you’re approached as you enter or leave the house. See the whole story at Wireless Burglar Alarm Systems Made Even Better! by adding wireless remotes.

  • Remember that a wireless home alarm system can be removed, so you can take it with you when you move out.

Wireless Burglar Alarm Disadvantages:

  • Consider the size of your home. If it’s big enough to require a second keypad for easy arming and disarming, that keypad would likely have to be wireless. Wireless keypads tend to be sluggish in use, since they conserve battery power by “going to sleep” when not in use. When you “wake it up” to arm or disarm, it must poll the main panel to find the status of the system. This makes them operate more slowly than the hardwired models.

  • Wireless alarm equipment is proprietary, meaning that the transmitters will only work with the particular main panel they were designed to communicate with. This isn’t normally a big deal, unless the manufacturer goes out of business. Parts may then be unavailable, which is bad news if even one transmitter in the system fails. The choice would then be to leave an area of the home unprotected, or replace the entire system!

  • Wireless security alarms usually cost more initially than hardwired systems, simply because they use radio transmitters for each piece of the system. This is more expensive to produce than the simple magnetic contacts used in hardwire systems. The higher initial cost of wireless equipment may be offset by the savings in labor, since little or no wiring needs to be installed. Get estimates both ways to be sure which type will save you the most money.

  • Be aware that wireless transmitters can have reception issues due to the layout and structure of the home. Mirrors or wallpaper on walls, and steel reinforcement inside walls can block radio waves and create dead zones. This can be checked during installation, and device locations can usually be adjusted to allow good reception.

Hybrid Systems

For houses with wiring access to some areas but not others, a hybrid system may be the solution. Hybrid panels support both hardwired and wireless devices. This allows you to run wires to the accessible parts of the house, and use wireless alarm devices for the rest.

Hardwired contacts and devices tend to cost less, so using a hybrid panel is generally cheaper than going all-wireless.

For more info on hybrid systems, check out these articles:

DSC Power 1832

Ademco Vista 20P

The Best Wireless Home Alarm System For Homeowners

Plug-n-Play Systems

A newer type of wireless home alarm system is the "plug-n-play" system for apartments and smaller homes. These combine video, security, and home automation in a single device.

They are affordable, unobtrusive, and operate automatically for the most part. Learn more about apartment security system plug-n-play solutions.

The Bottom Line

  • Wireless home alarm systems aren’t for everyone, and hardwired systems are still the first choice when it's practical to install them.

  • Weigh the pluses and minuses, based on your home’s design and your situation.

  • Get quotes from alarm professionals, either online or in person. Let them know what you're looking for, and what you're willing to spend. This will give you a more accurate idea of which system will work for you, along with an estimate of its cost.

Why not get some free quotes right now?

Just answer a few easy questions about what you're looking for, and your free quotes will be sent to you via email.

Related Articles:

DIY Home Security Systems

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