SP&T News

Why choose wireless?

Image As a “traditional” type of alarm guy, I have had a long love/ hate relationship with wireless detection devices. Of course, I know I will get phone calls from manufacturers and suppliers calling me an archaic dinosaur. But when my company specifies a security system, unless we are in a situation where passing a wire is simply not possible, we believe in hardwiring each and every device, and in most cases home running those hardwired devices. That being said, when I moved to my 100-year-old home, we were unable to pass wires to the two smoke detectors on the top floor. I used wireless smoke detectors, and yes they did work and yes they did provide me and my family peace of mind. But once I had some work done and some wriggle room in our 18-inch flat roof, I passed wires to provide a hardwired solution.

February 20, 2008  By Ivan Spector

Potential clients inevitably ask me why we do this instead of wireless
devices like so many of our competitors. Well, we have some very simple
reasons why we use hardwired devices: simply put, hardwired detectors
are not dependent on batteries and they do not use radio frequency to
get a signal from Point A to Point B. I know spread spectrum technology
works well, mesh type devices operate reliably, the polling of the
transmitters have taken the worry out of passive standby transmitters,
the battery life of today’s power suppliers are much better than they
were in the past — but the bottom line is and will always be that these
devices irrefutably need batteries for power and require reliable
frequency reception.

If I have a choice — and I often do when we do the specifying — between
spending a client’s money on labour to install the detection devices or
on the hardware itself, we much prefer investing in the labour portion
and getting the work done on a much more reliable basis.

Before you decide to install wireless detection devices, ask yourself these questions:

How many of your clients want to change their batteries every year or
two? Depending on the use and polling of the detection devices in
question, it can indeed be that often. How many times do you want to
return because of service-related problems, which will occur more often
with wireless detection devices? Those service calls erode the
confidence in the system you specified and installed, costing you
referrals and future revenues. They cost you money out of your pocket
immediately because your client will not want to pay for those calls.


Look at the other side of the equation as well. If you are going to do
hard wired jobs you need skilled installers to fish the wires and
install the devices. Skilled labour for fishing wires is becoming a
shallow pool in our industry. Also, those hardwired jobs will take
longer, so there is an opportunity cost that may be missed by investing
that amount of time in those jobs and tying up your installers or you
if the job is being installed or supervised by you the company owner.
More and more often, we see pretty much equal costs between labour and
material, and as technology gets better, that disparity will only get

Ivan Spector is president of Sentinel Alarm in Montreal, Que., national
past president of CANASA and a member of the Central Station Alarm
Association’s board of directors.  

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