Keeping a job site or facility safe and secure is a top priority for managers and business owners. A reliable security system will protect staff, guests, assets, and projects as a whole. Access control and CCTV systems are key components to overall security, but the most obvious one is an alarm system.
Hardwired alarm systems have been the standard for decades and, in some work environments, are still the preferred choice. However, advances in wireless technology have made wireless alarm systems a feasible option, especially for smaller facilities or temporary job sites (like a construction site).
Knowing whether a wireless alarm system is right for you will depend entirely on your needs and goals when it comes to security, as well as the facility, or job site, the system will secure. So, as some food for thought. Here are the pros and cons of a wireless alarm system.
First, the pros:
They’re Relatively Easy to Install
A quick and easy installation is one of the major benefits business owners get from wireless alarm systems. Because they aren’t relying on a structured cabling infrastructure, a good amount of pre-planning and cost can be saved. It also makes a huge difference when site managers are trying to secure areas where cabling isn’t 100% feasible, like a construction site or a vehicle yard surrounded by a chain-link fence.
Sensors can be mounted where they are needed and moved as priorities dictate, and access control units (keypads, card readers, biometric scanners, etc.) can be mounted where authorized personnel can easily use them.
They’re More Affordable Than A Wired System
The absence of cabling infrastructure means that installation, and the wireless alarm system as a whole, is generally more affordable, though exact costs will depend on the size and complexity of your solution.
This opportunity for cost-savings can make a world of difference if you’re trying to secure an outdoor location, a small site, or a business with a limited budget where a potentially expensive cabling solution isn’t within reach.
You Can Easily Relocate and Reinstall Components
In addition to being easy to install, the components of a wireless alarm system can easily be moved to new locations in your building or job site. This flexibility allows you to adapt quickly to changes in your security needs and to cover gaps in security that weren’t addressed by the original configuration.
This also means the entire wireless system can more easily be moved to a different site. For example, let’s say you’re using an alarm system to secure a construction site in Edmonton. Once the project is finished, the alarm system components can easily be packed up and stored away or moved to a new project. This kind of mobility goes a long way towards you getting the most out of the investment you made in security.
Wireless Alarm Systems Operate During a Power Outage
Without a backup source of power, a hardwired alarm system will stop running in the event of an outage, potentially compromising your site’s security. The control panels get around this risk by having a battery backup in the event power goes out, while sensors run off batteries continuously. While this does mean site managers and security staff have to be more vigilant in checking the battery life in each of the sensors, it also means your alarm system runs off an independent power source.
You Can’t Simply “Cut the Cord”
On top of not relying solely on a physical connection for power, you aren’t relying on landline connection to let the alarm know when a sensor has been tripped (thus requiring the alarm to go off). Instead, a Wi-Fi connection is established between the sensors and alarms. That means the system is more difficult to accidentally (or deliberately) disconnect and disable.
Now for the cons. As attractive as these benefits may seem, you need to be aware of them before committing time and resources to any security solution:
They’re Vulnerable to Interference
If a Wi-Fi or cellular connection goes out, then sensors can’t talk to alarms in the event of an incident. While this risk can be mitigated with the right infrastructures (like signal boosters in cellular ‘dead zones’) it cannot be removed entirely. Although it’s less likely, electromagnetic interference, even the field generated by something as innocuous as a power line, can also interfere with a sensor’s ability to communicate with an alarm.
They Rely on Batteries
The blessing of using a battery-powered alarm system can also be a bit of a curse. Battery life will need to be checked regularly and batteries will need to be replaced or recharged on an as-needed (or scheduled) basis. While building a plan that enforces this kind of inspection may not seem like much, getting staff to stick to it may be more of a challenge. And, if they miss a scheduled inspection, the battery-powered device may fail, leaving you with holes in your security system.
They Have Distance Limitations
Without support from a signal booster of some kind, wireless alarm signals can only travel so far, and are best applied in small or medium-sized facilities. In the outdoors, they can usually send a signal about 500 feet, depending on the sources of interference. This is something you’ll have to keep in mind when planning your system layout.
Site security is important. When it’s done properly, it will protect your staff, guests or customers, the equipment you depend on and your facility as a whole. So be sure to set out some clear goals for your security system before you go ahead and install one, be it wired or wireless.
There are, without question, more benefits and drawbacks to a wireless security system than we covered here. If you’d a deeper dive, or if you’d like some help planning your site’s security system, Contact Us. Our Account Managers and Service Technicians are here to help.
Tridon is a full solution Telecom Systems Integrator with CSA certification and licensed by APEGA. Our Engineering, Service and Tower Divisions collaborate with customers to build engineered solutions including communications systems design, tower inspections and co-location, wireless broadband, fiber optic cabling, site security, and two-way radio communication.