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What Are the Different Types of Alarm Systems?

The four types of alarm systems against a neutral backdrop

There are four different types of alarm systems: wired, wireless, monitored, and unmonitored.

I’ve helped customers answer this question to find the best alarm system for their needs for over a decade now.

In this guide, I’ve covered the pros and cons of the different types of alarm systems and tips on how to decide which will work best for your property and security needs.

Quick Summary

  • Each of the different types of alarm systems offers unique advantages and considerations to keep in mind
  • Choosing between the different types of alarm systems depends on your budget, home size, property layout, location, and security goals
  • Wired alarm systems are great for large properties or homeowners who want the highest reliability with the lowest maintenance
  • Wireless alarm systems are the easiest to install, budget-friendly, portable, and a great option for renters but are higher maintenance and less reliable
  • Monitored alarm systems offer an unmatched level of protection but usually require a monthly fee
  • Unmonitored alarm systems are an extremely budget-friendly option but require you to respond if the alarm is triggered
  • A consultation with a security professional is the best way to determine the right alarm system for your needs

The Main Types of Alarm Systems

Each of these types of alarm systems aims to help deter criminal activity, give you peace of mind, and alert you if something is amiss on your property.

While they all share a similar goal, each type of alarm system offers unique advantages and considerations to keep in mind.

Wired Alarm Systems

What Is a Wired Alarm System?

Wired alarm systems transmit signals through wires that are physically connected to homes or buildings. The hardwired connection provides a high level of reliability and eliminates the need for batteries, making it a low-maintenance option.

Because of the need to physically hardwire the system, installation is more intensive and generally more costly.

When to Use

I recommend investing in a wired alarm system if you want the highest level of reliability and the lowest maintenance.

With no worries over batteries that run out or connection issues between sensors, wired alarm systems are highly effective and dependable.

For customers with a larger home, multiple buildings on their property, or for companies with large facilities, I almost always suggest a wired alarm system.

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Highly reliable, especially compared to wireless alarm systems Complicated installation process that is generally higher in cost and takes longer to complete
The physical wiring connections eliminate the chance of interference Susceptible to power outages
Permanent installation is ideal for long-term use Involves holes drilled into walls and ceilings that are not suitable for historic properties or rental properties
Can cover a large range, making it excellent for bigger homes or properties with multiple buildings
Low maintenance (no need to worry about changing batteries)
Stronger and more durable with a longer lifespan
Higher resolution and better image quality
Better connection and remote viewing over mobile devices

Wireless Alarm Systems

What Is a Wireless Alarm System?

Wireless alarm systems rely on radio frequencies to transmit signals rather than physical wires. Wireless systems are extremely easy to install and are generally more affordable than wired systems.

When to Use

When a customer is renting a home or apartment and asks me about the best alarm system, I almost always recommend a wireless alarm system.

With no hardwiring or complicated installation process, a wireless alarm system can be installed quickly and without damage to the rental property. If you move out, you can bring the wireless alarm system with you.

I also recommend wireless alarm systems for historic buildings that would be damaged by physical hardwiring. Wireless alarm systems are also a good choice for home or business owners who do not want to deal with the intensive installation process that a wired system involves.

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Can be accessed remotely Outside radio frequencies can cause interference
Easier and faster installation since there are no wires to install Not as reliable as wired alarm systems
More affordable than a wired alarm system Limited range (better suited to small to medium size residences)
Not susceptible to power outages Requires a higher level of maintenance due to batteries
Portable (can be easily removed and brought with you if you move) All sensors and control panels must be within range of each other to transmit signals properly (if sensors are located too far from the control panel or if obstacles are in the way, the signal will not get transmitted)
No damage to the building

Monitored Alarm Systems

What Is a Monitored Alarm System?

A monitored alarm system sends an alert directly to your security provider in the event of a threat.

The security provider then determines how to respond to the threat. For instance, if they detect a break-in, they will notify the policy. For a fire, they will dispatch the fire department. With advanced systems and extensive training, a security provider will know exactly how to respond in each scenario.

Knowing your home is being professionally monitored 24/7 offers unmatched peace of mind and is ideal for home or business owners who want the highest level of protection.

When to Use

Monitored alarm systems can be a great option for residential and commercial properties.

I recommend a monitored alarm system if:

  • You travel frequently or are away from home for long hours
  • You have valuable assets that require enhanced protection
  • You live in a high-risk area
  • You are extremely busy and do not have time to check in on your alarm system
  • You prefer the peace of mind of having a professional security team overseeing your property 24/7
  • You want an immediate response in the event the alarm is triggered
  • You want the highest level of security protection

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Provides peace of mind through continuous surveillance Typically includes a monthly fee associated with professional monitoring services from the security provider, so not ideal if you are on a tight budget
Provides an immediate professional response and notifies emergency services if necessary in the event the alarm is triggered Requires professional installation (higher cost)
Reliable and easy to customise
Provides 24/7 monitoring by a professional security company
If you are unreachable or not able to get home, someone will check on your property if needed
Can still function in a power outage and has a backup battery (I recommend having an uninterrupted power supply installed to your router)

Unmonitored Alarm Systems

What Is an Unmonitored Alarm System?

Unmonitored alarm systems send alerts to your or your designated contacts in the event of the system being triggered.

An unmonitored alarm system will trigger a loud siren and/or visual signal and alert you that someone is in the vicinity. It is entirely up to you to decide the best course of action.

You’ll need to be confident in your ability to decide how to respond to a threat and when to call emergency services. If you are away from home often, you’ll need a designated contact to respond if the alarm is triggered or have notifications sent to your mobile device.

Because they do not require professional monitoring, unmonitored alarm systems tend to be cheaper. However, they do not offer the same level of protection as a monitored system. 

When to Use

I find that unmonitored alarm systems are best suited to:

  • Homeowners who prefer a more hands-on approach to their property’s security and are confident knowing how to respond to various security threats
  • Individuals looking for a cost-effective security solution
  • Homeowners who enjoy controlling their alarm system remotely
  • Renters or homeowners who plan to relocate within a few years

If you opt for a self-monitored security system, I recommend installing a wired system (unless you are renting).

Without the need for battery changes and with less vulnerability to power outages, a wired unmonitored system will provide the reliability you need to continually keep an eye on your home.

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
No monthly fees Reliant on the user
Direct control over how to respond to alerts May result in delayed response times if you fail to notify emergency services
Cost-effective choice for smaller properties or areas with lower crime rates Areas with poor mobile service may cause a delayed response
Provides real-time footage/notifications if an alarm sensor is triggered Will not function during a power outage or if your WIFI connection is down
Can be set up to be controlled remotely from your smart phone Considered a lower level of protection than monitored alarm systems
Portable and good for renters or people who plan to relocate

FAQs

How do I choose between the different types of alarm systems?

When I help customers choose the best type of alarm system, here are some of the questions I ask:

  • Is this an alarm system for a home or business?
  • What is the total value of on-site goods or belongings?
  • Is it a high-crime area?
  • Do you have young children or pets?
  • How big is your house/property?
  • Does your property have outbuildings, sheds, a detached garage, or isolated areas?
  • Do you have reliable WiFi?
  • Do you own or rent the property?
  • Are you on a budget and looking for cost-effective alarm systems?
  • How often are you home?
  • Do you travel a lot?

The best way to decide on the right alarm system for your property is through a consultation with a security professional.

When I work with customers, I take a wide range of factors into account to determine the best security solution. I take the time to get to know your property, layout, location, budget, and preferences so we can work together to find the security solution that will fit your needs the best.

Should I choose a wired or wireless alarm system?

Wired and wireless security systems each have their ideal applications. While choosing between the two will depend on your unique situation and property, here are my general recommendations.

I recommend a wired alarm system for:

  • Homeowners who plan to stay at their property long-term
  • Large homes or properties with multiple buildings
  • Home or business owners who want the lowest maintenance option
  • Homeowners seeking the highest reliability
  • Business owners seeking the strongest network security
  • New construction

I often recommend wireless alarm systems for:

  • Renters
  • People on a budget
  • Historic homes or buildings where you don’t want to drill holes in walls
  • Homeowners who plan to relocate at some point and want a portable security system they can bring with them

See my guide on Wired vs Wireless Alarm Systems for an in-depth look at the differences between the two and how to choose the best alarm system for your needs.

Can an alarm system decrease my home insurance payments?

Yes, installing an alarm system may help you get a lower rate on home insurance or business insurance. Contact your insurance provider to see if they offer decreased rates for alarm systems. If you can secure a lower insurance rate for having an alarm system installed, it can essentially pay itself off over time.

Are alarm systems worth it?

The biggest thing I hear from my customers is how much more at ease they feel once an alarm system is installed. Investing in an alarm system will depend on your unique situation, but I’ve heard countless customers call the peace of mind they feel from an alarm system “priceless”.

How often should my alarm system be tested?

Along with performing self-maintenance checks every three to six months, I recommend having your alarm system professionally inspected and serviced once a year. When testing your alarm system, notify your security provider to let them know it is just a test.

Can I control my alarm system from my phone?

Yes, many alarm systems can be connected to your smart phone and controlled remotely.

Conclusion

Choosing the right alarm system is a critical decision that depends on various factors including property size, layout, personal security needs, and budget constraints.

Whether you opt for a wired, wireless, monitored, or unmonitored system, each comes with its unique set of advantages and considerations.

For those seeking dependable alarm system installation in Perth, our security system installers ensure you receive tailored advice and the most suitable system for your property.

Don’t compromise on your safety and peace of mind. Contact us today to explore your options and protect your home or business with the ideal home security system.