Do you have a wired burglar alarm that looks like it belongs to the old era of old corded telephones or those iconic red phone and big televisions boxes that used to take up half the space in our living rooms? Then this blog is just for you! The burglar alarm market, like any other consumer product, has evolved significantly during the last15 years. The old fashioned wired alarm has lost more than 98% of the market share since 2010. Most security system manufacturers have either discontinued their wired range or stopped supporting their legacy wired systems.
We at FHA haven’t done a fully wired burglar alarm since 2012. We currently have just one manufacturer, Risco, in our portfolio who still makes a wired product designed to work as a straight swap for a legacy hard wired alarm systems. It is as labour intensive and at times costlier than fitting a brand-new wireless alarm altogether.
So, if you have a wired security alarm, what are your options? Have a look below.
1. Do Nothing!
If it ain’t broken…
There is no urgent reason for you to do anything as long as the following factors are considered.
- Is your wired alarm system working properly?
- Are you servicing your wired alarm system yearly?
- Do you have all the burglar system codes needed?
- Do you have the user manual?
- Are you in touch with a product expert engineer or a company that can assist you with regular support and servicing of your system?
- Do you know what to do if the system develops a fault on the weekend?
- Is your alarm system older than ten years?
- Has the manufacturer discontinued the product?
- Are spare parts still available for the system?
- Would it be beneficial for you to upgrade the system and take advantage of more advanced safety and smart living features?
It is critical that you know the answers to these questions and be able to identify whether you are prepared to handle an emergency situation with your system.
I emphasise this assessment as we regularly answer calls on weekends and late nights from homeowners with old alarms that they know nothing about. They usually panic when they are told nothing can be done without having at least some if not all information at hand.
So what are your options with an old system?
Get your wired alarm system professionally serviced regularly. Ensure everything is working fine and make sure you know how to operate the system properly. It is easier said than done, as very few technicians still work on old wired alarms. And even if you have found a good engineer local enough to you, parts and labour can be expensive. The reason being, old systems take a lot longer to troubleshoot and fix and hard wired alarm system kits are often discontinued.
Look at our other upgrade options.
2. Upgrade to a New Wired Alarm System or a Hybrid Alarm
One option is to check if you can use the existing wiring to upgrade the alarm to a more modern and technology-oriented system. It is a good idea on paper, and there are still a handful of solutions out there that can fit this requirement.
Using existing cabling is good.
Old cabling may have damages and may not meet current wiring standards
Minimal disruption as new devices can be placed in the same location using the same setup.
If you want to change the location of any devices, you would require additional cabling. And exposed cabling is never a nice thing to look at.
Wired alarm motion sensor and other wired devices can be cheaper as technology is minimal in the wired alarm system compared to wireless alarms.
The wired alarm control panel location might affect the inclusion of communication modules like broadband or landline.
You get a limited choice of products to choose from.
Repositioning devices, adding extra sensors, or enhancing protection on an existing wired setup is always challenging, time-consuming and costly.
It would either mean running exposed cables within the house right from the wired control panel to wired sensors or adding a wireless module to the alarm (available on some wired alarm models) to make it a hybrid (part wired and part wireless) burglar alarm system.
Possible Issues with a Hybrid Alarm System
Many security companies will not agree to upgrade an alarm with your existing wiring. It is mainly because there might be problems when you do it with current wiring. Wiring faults are often difficult to identify, time consuming and expensive to fix.
Some common problems could be realising that the cables are damaged while the new system installation is almost complete or replacing your old alarm, which is sitting pretty much inside the plastering.
Upgrading to a hybrid alarm system is a good option if you want to add extra sensors or devices. Again, the price can go up, and with two types of alarm technologies working together, you will soon find out that you have got enough choices, flexibility, and more control with wireless devices than the wired ones.
However, if the wiring is older than ten years, it may be wise to completely ignore this route and go for the other home security systems (listed below).
3. Wireless Burglar Alarm System
If your hardwired security system is over ten years old, the most sensible option is to upgrade to a new fully wireless alarm.
When we replace old wired alarms for our customers, we even help them remove their existing systems. A wireless alarm system is not only simple to use, but it also includes a plethora of features that make it a complete security package for any home. It outperforms a traditional wired intruder alarm system in every imaginable way, which depends on wires and cables.
Wireless alarms have complete dominance in the home security market now. All manufacturers have either entirely or mainly transitioned to wireless solutions for several reasons.
Easier to Install & Upgrade:
Because wireless home alarm systems do not require cables or wires, they are simpler to install and upgrade. Furthermore, the system’s components are easily replaceable. A typical wireless installation can be completed within 2-4 hours, while a wired system can take 6 hours to 2 days – wiring being the most time-consuming part.
Flexible & Scalable:
These systems are portable, and you can easily upgrade them by adding sensors to them at any time. The system can grow with your growing demands – whether it is that nice extension or additional protection for your little one’s bedroom window.
Multiple choices of communications:
You can choose from call alerts, text messages and notifications on smartphones using a selection of landline, sim card or broadband-based modules.
Compatible with your Smart Home:
Advanced wireless alarms use home automation technology, allowing them to integrate with your smart home.
Tamper-proof and more Secure:
Communication in a wireless alarm system is relatively fast, reliable, and secure. It is also tamper-proof. As a result, there is no danger of disabling cables or removing devices. Always make sure your new burglar alarm is grade 2, insurance approved and meets EN 50131 standards.
Wireless alarms work on batteries and can operate continuously even when there is no power supply. In addition, the control panel includes backup battery power if there is a power failure.
Choice of multiple sirens:
You can choose to have multiple internal and external sirens with the alarm. Most of our standard alarm packages come with each of these sirens. You can always choose to have additional live or dummy sirens outside for extra protection.
Most wireless systems have self-diagnosis and trouble reporting in every device. Such information can be passed to the control panel and even to your phone if it is a smart system. Talk about convenience and ease of dealing with faults.
You can find some of the best wireless alarm system options here.
4. Smart House Alarm Systems
A smart alarm is a more advanced burglar alarm with advanced features such as remote access control and monitoring. You can either connect the alarm panel to your broadband or add a dedicated GSM or LTE sim card unit inside the alarm system to communicate with your alarm control panel.
The key features of smart alarms are:
- Arm and disarm the system from anywhere in the world with the smartphone app. Ideal for giving kids, neighbours, parents, or cleaners access into the house if you are away, without them worrying about triggering the alarm.
- Get instant notifications on alarm activation and other alarm related activities as push notifications on the app or via email.
- Add camera sensors or video cameras to keep an eye on the house or your pets when you are away.
- Sim card connections options will have an ongoing cost associated with sim top-up charges.
- Some cloud connections come with subscription charges. You would want a well maintained and secured connection with advanced encryption anyway. Look out for ‘Secured by Design’ approval on cloud services.
We, at FHA, have seen massive uptake for smart alarms in the last 5 – 6 years. About 70% of new installations we do now are smart alarms now, and we expect this only to grow with old fashioned landlines being set to discontinue.
You can read more about that here.
5. Smart Alarm with Integrated Home Automation
In the last few years, a lot of progress has been made with true smart living and integrating home security with home automation. While protocols were defined for years for Z-wave devices, there have always been challenges with integrating and getting different products with different functionalities talking to each other.
We have made loads for advancement by introducing our most advanced Qolsys (Quality of Life Systems) smart alarm home automation system. You can read our in-depth review of the Qolsys alarm system here.
It is an iPad like alarm control panel that integrates six different wireless technologies into it, allowing you to integrated Visonic’s most advanced Powermaster wireless technology with the widest choice of home automation devices approved by alarm.com’s cloud management system.
Allow me to paint you a picture!
You are coming home with kids, your pets and your shopping. Your hands are full! Your smartwatch knows you are within metres of the house and unlocks the smart lock on your door, and disarms the alarm for you. It records this information and even takes a photo when the alarm is disarmed.
It automatically turns on your lights, TV, and heating, and it can even schedule your household appliances, such as your robotic vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, and washer-dryer, to save you money on electricity.
Your system can quickly learn your usual plans and notifies you when something unusual happens. When you leave the house, it automatically locks your door and arms the alarm for you as well.
If you have a visitor, your video doorbells and video cameras with advanced analytics notify you when they get near the property, and you can talk to them, let them into the house if needed and much more.
The future looks exciting, isn’t it?
So might wonder what you would do with your spare time? Why not use this time and do what you enjoy or go back to option 1- Do nothing!
What are the benefits of using Smart Technology?
Smart technology has numerous advantages, and consumer home automation has made homeowners’ lives easier and more convenient.
Managing all of the smart devices through various smartphone apps could be difficult. This is where a smart home automation hub can help, allowing you to manage everything from a single location.
When all smart devices are linked together, they form a smart home automation hub.
A smartphone app enables you to control the smart home automation hub from your phone easily. You don’t have to manage separate apps for each of your devices anymore. Instead, everything can be managed through a single app.
The most amazing aspect of this technology is connecting multiple devices to trigger an automated action. You can, for example, integrate your alarm system with your smart door. As a result, every time you lock your door, your alarm will be activated.
Alarm.com offers a home management solution that allows homeowners to manage everything from a single platform. Thanks to its user-friendly app, you can control everything with just a few clicks.
The key takeaway from looking at your old alarm system is aware of the implications of each of these options- doing nothing, upgrading your old system or starting over with a new system- has on your home, family and peace of mind.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to give us a call at 020 3137 8727 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to chat about securing your home and protecting what matters to you the most.