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Hardwired or professionally installed systems are available only to those who own the home where they live.

This is because wires must be run through and into walls, equipment attached to the interior and exterior of the building and contracts are required for continuous monitoring during the length of the contract.

Additionally, professionally installed and monitored services also include fire alarm services that are part of the package and not optional.

The fire alarm is also a hardwired system with battery back-up so that removing a battery only serves to set off the alarms.

Both ADT and Vivint offer the same options for homeowners to choose from.

In the last few years, both have added services for monitoring temperature changes stating that this is to help prevent bursting pipes and if the room becomes too warm, there is a remote access to turn on the air conditioner if preferred.

Another recent monitor option is for flooding at which point the company will notify you of the problem and you have the opportunity to send someone to the home to stem off any damage.

If you live in an area where flooding is likely to occur, you may find this a frivolous option since you will probably be watching the weather and preparing anyway.

If you choose one of the video surveillance options, you can watch your home at remote locations.

With technology today that allows you to have this ability over the internet or on your Smartphone, you may not want to incur extra charges on a contract.

Medical alert services are incorporated into the fire alarm service since most fire companies also dispatch medical emergency personnel. The alarm company services are usually behind the time and depend on hardwired alerts from the person needing assistance.

Finally, one of the latest sales temptations that both major companies promote is referred to as “storm safety” guarantees. Basically, they are referring to the battery back-up system that is required by law to be part of a hardline system.

If you live in an area where power outages occur during storms, the back-up battery system will automatically kick in but it only lasts for a maximum of 12-hours and that is true only if your battery is less than 6-months old.

After that, the length of time that the system will operate goes down gradually. A battery that has not been replaced in 5-years may not work at all.

The one exception to home ownership is for apartment complexes that arrange to have a security system installed at the time that the complex is built.

Then, renters have the option to turn on the system which will require a contract or choosing to use a wireless set up from another company.

Wireless systems are available as do-it-yourself installation set-ups and require only a Wi-Fi service through your cell or cable provider.

Since there is no necessity for attaching equipment to walls as part of the permanent structure, relocating cables or electrical components and no damage to the structure of the home in order to establish service, wireless systems are ideal for apartment dwellers and renters.

Monitoring is done by the home owner or a professional monitoring service, such as a security guard company, or the company that provides the kit for self-install.

Some companies that provide wireless kits with monitoring services do have alarms for fire, carbon monoxide, medical, flooding or change of temperature with the wireless systems.

Others, such as Dropcam Pro, do not and you will have to find these separately.

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About Sensors

All hardwired burglar alarm systems include sensors either for windows, doors or room monitoring.
Some wireless systems kits provide these as well.

  • Window sensors are prone to loosening due to normal exterior vibrations and the contact points may become unaligned and no longer transmit signals
  • Door sensors are prone to vibrations such as opening and closing of the door and frequently need readjustment
  • Garage door sensors are notorious for misalignment and malfunctioning because they consistently experience higher than normal vibrations.
  • Both door and window sensors may become corroded due to the fluctuation in temperatures between the interior and exterior which causes minute pools of condensation. Once corroded these sensors will alarm for no reason or cease to function entirely. They need to be checked, cleaned or replaced once a year.
  • Room sensors are usually placed near the ceilings and may alarm when heaters or hot air from someone taking a shower gets near them. The most common situation is that they have a tendency to fall out of alignment because of the normal expansion and contraction due to change of temperature.
  • Room sensors may alert to large animals – such as medium sized dogs – or to small animals that play and jump a lot. If the sensor is programmed to a low setting to avoid alarms from pets, it may not go off unless an intruder is standing directly in line with the sensor for more than 60-seconds.
  • Fire alarms that are in hallways may react and alarm whenever someone takes a hot shower or bath and from cooking steam-- or oven heat.

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If you choose to have sensors installed on your doors or windows, maintaining them is vital to proper usage whether in a DIY or professionally installed system.

The best place to use window sensors are for rooms that are least often used and rooms where teenagers who want to escape at midnight might sleep.

The other rooms should have pins installed to cause someone to hear the intrusion if they are home and prevent easy access on a locked window when vacant.

Professionally installed systems operated by landline connections have some benefits that wireless systems cannot provide.

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  • Sun spots, major snowstorms or hurricanes will not disrupt transmission
  • Cell tower crowding or damage will not affect landline abilities
  • These types of connections might provide coverage for CCTV set-ups that are monitored at a remote center, by the police department (which is done in some cities in California right now) or by a private monitoring company.

However, hardwired systems have their own set of problems.

  • Burglars can cut electrical wires and disarm system from the exterior of the home without setting off the alarm
  • Since the battery back-up will kick-in, they only have to remove the battery which is located in the alarm box usually found in a bedroom closet – and burglars know this
  • The battery back-up takes at least 2-minutes to kick-in after the electricity is cut which gives burglars ample opportunity to get into your home and dismantle the system
  • Wired systems experience damage from animals gnawing on the wires – in the attic or exterior wires leading to the main box. Since these wires are not “hot”, the animal is not deterred.
  • Wired systems also experience a high level of wire damage from natural causes, such as nicks from branches or nicks from other service installations such as siding.
  • This includes maintenance of the copper lines that the company is responsible for but the customer support people do not know about.

Once the wires are nicked or corrode, they operate only sporadically and you need to have them replaced to ensure the system will work.Wireless systems have come a long way since they first came onto the market and they are often better than the wireless options available through the major ecurity services.

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  • Purchased outright and can be installed with remote monitoring for free
  • Some systems update in the Cloud (Dropcam by Nest) and all updates affect your system, regardless of age of the security camera
  • There are fewer false alarm reports to police departments because you can see what is going on in real time instead of guessing
  • Pro does have interactive voice now installed

Those with Cloud, store all the data in the Cloud rather than on a tape attached to the camera or on a flash drive. If the camera is stolen or removed, the data remains and can be downloaded to your computer, smartphone or the police department immediately

  • Many models now include intercom ability where you can speak to anyone in the room through the camera
  • There are exterior cases that are available for mounting anywhere outside your home
  • Wireless cameras are so small now that they can be hidden or disguised to prevent intruders from realizing that you are watching and recording their activity
  • Most can now be programmed to send alerts which are sent to your cell phone when an intruder enters a space or comes through your doors or windows

Wireless cameras with alert systems can be programmed to send alerts to your local police department if you are out of town or to a private security guard company to monitor if you cannot receive calls at work – such as military personnel or people who work in jobs that are sensitive.

How do you decide if you should use a hardwired or wireless system?

There are some areas of the country where wireless is still very sporadic or unavailable. In spite of the guy standing on the mountain asking, “can you hear me now”, there are wide areas in the Rocky Mountain States that have no cellular service.

And, because there are miles and miles between large towns, many do not have broadband service either.

If you live in Centennial, Wyoming, for example, you may have no option other than hardwired security since you cell service is limited at best. The same is true on Native American Reservations where both wireless and landlines are limited.

You really need to know what is available in the area in which you live and make your decisions based on that information.

Most local laws require that businesses have hardwired fire alarm systems installed.

This is because the alarm goes directly to the fire department and then to the monitoring service.

Once a fire alarm goes off – whether business or residential – the fire department must respond even if the homeowner calls in to tell them it is a false alarm. This is a national safety law and neither the fire department nor the alarm company can modify the response.

Most fire departments have penalty fees for repetitive false fire alarm responses. That means that if your alarm needs a new battery, is removed for service or one of the sensors needs to be replaced; it may go off every night or every week.

The fees can be exorbitant and you may find that the hardwired fire alarm was a horrible idea after all.

Other than fire alarm laws for businesses, there is no law that states you must have hardwired or wireless alarm services in your home or business.

If you are not required to have a hardwired fire system, you may find it more economical and sensible to check out all the options that wireless systems now provide.

The video below is courtesy of ABC news in which they report on several different instances where burglars are caught by residents using Dropcam HD and Dropcam Pro – some with remote control and automatic notification to your cell phone.

The video that follows shows how a wireless security camera with live feed allowed police to capture intruders in the act.

Data indicates that wired security systems are not that good at preventing or deterring burglars and if they do not include cameras that record activities, they are useless at assisting the police in finding and capturing lawbreakers.

What many people do not know about security companies that monitor your alarms is that they are not allowed to call the police and report a break-in.

  • You have to be notified by the alarm service
  • You have someone check your home for intruders
  • Then when you have verified that a burglary has occurred, you call the police department yourself.
  • Then, you have to meet the police at your home to fill out the report.

Using high-tech wireless security is no longer a “futuristic” idea. Maintaining copper lines that can carry a considerably smaller amount of data, corrode and need constant replacement as global weather patterns change is going to be much too costly over the next ten years.

Wireless security cameras have a much higher rate of arrest of the criminals because they all record the activities and enable you to see who is in your home and call the police with a verified break-in immediately.

Unless you have no other option, going wireless for all your security servicing needs is the best possible option, especially for the long-term.

None-the-less, we provide information on both wireless and hardwired systems in the next two chapters that you might not know otherwise.