How Can I Tell if My System is Wired or Wireless?

You can tell if your system is wired or wireless by checking for a few different things. If the system is self-contained and all-in-one, then it is wireless. But if the system has a metal casing and uses an external keypad, then it is hardwired. Certain keypads indicate a hardwired system.

A hardwired system cannot be controlled on its own. Instead, it is controlled using a hardwired keypad. Some users might believe that their keypad is the actual system itself. But it is important to understand that the keypad is just a controller for the system. The actual system is hidden away somewhere else in the building, often in a storage room, attic, closet or basement. The control panel for the system will usually be inside of some beige metal cabinet. If the main controller for your system has a wire leading to a beige metal cabinet, then your system is hardwired. Remember, almost every hardwired system will have some type of hardwired keypad.

Sti em08073 dot 5 metal cabinet enclosure

But for wireless systems, the "controller" is built directly into the system. In other words, most wireless systems are all-in-one (AIO). The only wire leading from the system will likely be to a power outlet. It may also have a couple of hardwired contacts and perhaps a hardwired siren. But these add-ons are the exception to the norm for wireless systems. The big distinction is that the primary controller will not have a wire leading to a metal cabinet that contains the system. Instead, the controller is the actual system.

Wireless systems also require fewer add-ons than wired systems. With wireless systems, it is usually unnecessary to add an external keypad or a wireless receiver. But nearly every wired system will require an external keypad, as well as a wireless receiver if the user wants to use wireless sensors. And don't assume that just because your system uses wireless sensors that you have a wireless system. If a hardwired system has a wireless receiver, then wireless sensors will still be able to communicate with the system over-the-air.

Remember, a modern wired system can do almost everything a wireless system can with the proper add-ons. If a cellular communicator is added to a wired system, it will be able to communicate with an interactive service platform, like Total Connect 2.0 or This will allow a user to control their system remotely through a mobile app on their Android or iOS device. Once a user has accessed the mobile app, they can arm and disarm their system, check the current status of their sensors, control any Z-Wave smart home devices (Z-Wave controller required) and more.

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