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Difference Between Wireless and Cellular Home Alarm Systems

This is a question that is asked by many consumers when shopping for an alarm system. Cellular monitoring is somewhat new on the scene and many customers have trouble understanding the difference between “Wireless” and “Cellular”. Both mean the same thing right? Or do they?

When talking about the word Wireless the alarm company is referring to the way their alarm equipment communicates with the other alarm sensors as well as your main Control Panel. The alarm sensors use a wireless frequency, much like a radio signal, to communicate to one another and to tell the Control Panel when to send an alarm signal. The wireless frequencies of an alarm system are usually proprietary – meaning they do not have the same frequency as any other wireless electronic device in your home. Other wireless devices in your home may include your home Wi-Fi, Bluetooth devices, or garage door openers. Your wireless alarm system should not interfere with any of these other devices, or any other wireless alarm systems in your neighborhood. In essence, everyone on your block could have the same wireless alarm system and you would never see interference.

To read more on Wireless Alarm Systems see our post on Wireless vs. Hard Wired Alarms.

Now, let’s talk about the word “Cellular”!

When an alarm company says they are completely cellular or are offering cellular monitoring they are referring to the way their alarm system sends alarm signals to the monitoring station. The different ways this can be done are via a phone line, internet and of course our current topic: Cellular. Cellular monitoring is the safest and most reliable monitoring on the market today. The alarm company will install a cellular “device” or “module” in to the main Control Panel of your alarm system. When your alarm goes off the cellular device in the Control Panel sends a signal to the monitoring station using cellular towers – similar to you sending a text message to a friend. The cellular module may also act as a way for you to communicate with your alarm system using online/remote access. If you use a smartphone app or log in online to disarm your alarm system while on vacation, that signal is sent through the cellular towers straight to your Control Panel, giving it the command to disarm.

Instead of using an unreliable wire (phone line or internet) the cellular device, in essence, sends “wireless” signals as well.

However, the words “cellular” and “wireless” mean two different things when talking about alarms. So you can see where people get confused right? It’s ok. Hopefully we got that cleared up for you. So let’s recap:

What does “Wireless Alarm” mean?

Wireless means that the alarm equipment has no wires, and transmits wireless signals to your Control Panel when there is activity with the alarm system. This is the way your system communicates inside your home.

What does “Cellular Alarm” mean?

Having a cellular alarm system means your Control Panel has a built in device that will transmit alarm signals to the monitoring center in the event of an alarm. This is the way your system is being monitored and how it communicates with the “outside world”.