A Homeowner’s Guide To Wired Security Systems

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Lady with ADT keypad and installer (caption: Guide to Wired Security Systems)You’ve likely found our article because you’re either considering getting a new hardwired security system for your home or want to know your options if your home is already prewired with an existing system. We can help you on both fronts. We also give you some handy tips in case you’re still considering getting a wireless security system.

Article Overview

Best Wired Security System

Although many homeowners are going wireless these days, you may prefer to have a new hardwired security system installed in your home. A hardwired system usually requires professional installation and obviously isn’t portable if you move. But the advantage is that you get more reliable service because connections are typically more stable than wireless.

Our Top Pick: ADT Review

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ADT is one of the oldest and best-known home security companies. They offer wired and wireless options with reliable professional monitoring, a variety of equipment, customizable packages, and are available nationwide. We think ADT is your best bet if you want a new hardwired home security system.

Unfortunately, there are a few downsides to ADT you should be aware of. ADT is on the more expensive side and requires professional installation (even for a wireless system), which costs money. They also require a three-year monitoring contract with hefty early termination fees.

One confusion is that ADT uses authorized dealers.* This means that installation and customer service can vary widely depending on your dealer. In turn, this makes it difficult to know what to expect.

However, ADT still has a lot going for it. It has 10 monitoring stations (the most of any security company we’ve reviewed), can be installed in your home within one to two days of ordering in most cases, and has a six-month guarantee.

*Our ADT links take you to SafeStreets, which is an authorized reseller for ADT.

Read Our Full Review Of ADT

Homes With Prewired Security Systems

If you’ve moved into a home with a hardwired security system in place, you have a few options depending on the type of equipment (and the shape) of the existing system.

Use The Existing System’s Provider

Use existing wired security system provider pros and consUsing an existing hardwired system can save you a lot on equipment and installation costs. If you know which provider installed the equipment, reactivating the system could be as easy as a phone call.

Tip: To find out who did the installation, check the contact label on the control panel or contact the system’s manufacturer.

Depending on the system’s age, a technician may need to update the control panel and ensure that the other equipment like door and window sensors are still fully functional. But before you commit, be sure to do your homework about the provider. Some factors to consider include:

  • Customer service and reputation: Does the provider have a good track record of solid service and support?
  • Contract length: How long do you want to be locked into a contract? Some providers, like ADT, require a three-year contract.
  • Equipment and features: If you think you want to add additional equipment one day, does the provider offer everything you’ll want?
  • Technology: What form of monitoring does the company offer, and are you comfortable with it?
  • Cost: How much will you be expected to pay to maintain professional monitoring per month?

Find A New Provider

Find a new wired security system provider pros and consIf the provider who installed the equipment doesn’t measure up or you want to upgrade or convert the existing system, you should consider another provider. It’s important to know, however, that many home security providers, especially ones that only offer wireless service, can’t take over a prewired system.

But you do have some options. Some providers who work with older systems include:

AT&T Digital Life, for example, offers a conversion kit, a $99.99 device that can convert your existing wired security system to a system monitored by Digital Life.

You can contact these providers to see if they offer monitoring with your existing system and what additional equipment they could add, like indoor and outdoor cameras, video doorbells, smart locks, and other smart home devices.

If you want to upgrade to a smart home, ADT could be your best option. ADT’s Pulse technology is a robust system that syncs all of your security and smart home equipment together under one platform. Of course, you’ll first want to make sure that ADT can upgrade your existing hardwired system.

Scrap The Old System & Go Wireless

Wireless security system pros and consIf the existing hardwired system is very old (10+ years) or you can’t find an acceptable upgraded configuration, you may want to consider abandoning it entirely and going wireless. The good news is that you have a lot of reliable and affordable options. Benefits of a wireless home security system include:

  • Easy to install yourself: Devices feature peel-and-stick mounting options, eliminating the need for drilling.
  • Portable: If you move, you can easily uninstall your system and take it with you.
  • Flexible: Many wireless systems have base packages, but you can add other devices a la carte to meet your needs.
  • Remote control: Many allow you to arm and disarm your system via smartphone apps and a keyfob.
  • Professional monitoring plans: You can choose from a few reliable monitoring plans to fit your budget.

If you plan on starting over fresh, we highly recommend Frontpoint for its extensive line of security and home automation equipment, dependable monitoring, and excellent customer service. However, there are many options you can consider in our reviews of the best home security systems.

What Are My DIY Options?

Burglar prying door open with crowbar (caption: Guide to The Best Home Security Systems)

If you’re wondering how to wire a home security system yourself, please know that hardwired security systems are difficult to DIY unless you know exactly what you’re doing. They require a lot of hole drilling and cable running, which is why most hardwired systems require professional installation at a cost.

If you want to go the DIY route, we recommend going with one of the many wireless DIY systems you can find in our home security system reviews. Many of the best DIY systems offer affordable 24/7 professional monitoring and great customer service. Get all your DIY home security questions answered in our DIY FAQ.

Are you considering a wired home security system?

About The Author:

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate school for journalism and public relations, Sally began a long career researching and writing about hard-to-understand topics, such as insurance and finance.

Her additional experience in marketing, fundraising, public relations and financial planning at various foundations and nonprofit organizations over the years has given her the practical tools to inform consumers about making the smartest business and personal financial decisions. Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more.

Speaking of smart living — growing up in the (at-the-time) per-capita murder capital of the U.S. (Richmond, VA) taught her a thing or two about the need for personal and home safety. Sally stays on top of all the latest gadgets and services to protect her and her teenage daughters from potential predators and thieves. And she brings this knowledge to every article she writes.

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