What are Wired and Wireless Peripheral Sensors?

A security system uses numerous kinds of peripheral sensors to determine the state of the zones that the system monitors. These sensors communicate with a system and are placed around the installation location (the periphery) where they communicate their current status to the panel.

The terminology might be a bit confusing for most security system owners. Generally, one would know a "peripheral sensor" as a door or window sensor. These can, however, also include glass break sensors, motion sensors, tilt sensors, leak detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, smoke and heat sensors, and a panoply of other kinds of system sensors. These can be broken down into different types of sensors including but not limited to the following:

  • Security sensors such as the door or window sensor, glass break sensors, and motion sensors.
  • Environmental sensors include sensors like flood and leak detectors, as well as temperature sensors.
  • Life safety sensors include medical panics, carbon monoxide detectors, and smoke/heat detectors.

The sensor that each security system will need depends on the system itself. Wired systems will generally have wired peripheral sensors. Many systems, such as Honeywell's VISTA series, however, can have a hybrid of wired and wireless sensors. To accept wireless sensors, a VISTA will need a wireless receiver. This can be installed at the panel, such as the ENL line of receivers, or (more conveniently) can be in the form of a 6160RF keypad. Once installed, the VISTA systems will have access to Honeywell's 5800 wireless series. These sensors are the best known, most installed wireless peripheral sensor.

Most modern security systems, like the L7000, GC3, Lyric, or Qolsys, having wired sensors is extremely unlikely. Even if a house is outfitted with wired sensors, most installers would use a wireless encoder to turn all of these wired signals so that they can transmit to these systems wirelessly. Products like the 5800C2W and the IQ Hardwire-16 make this possible. These products convert wired peripheral sensors into wireless peripheral sensors which makes the process of moving from a wired system to a wireless system extremely quick and simple.

While we strongly recommend the use of wireless sensors, it is worth noting that these sensors can be susceptible to certain hacks. Criminals with the right equipment can jam or spoof these sensors which can create a security vulnerability. Industry leaders like Honeywell and Qolsys have responded to these problems by creating encrypted wireless peripheral sensors. These sensors are much harder to spoof and, at least in Honeywell's SiX line, the employment of frequency hopping makes it difficult to jam the sensors.

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