Home security is better and smarter than it’s ever been. And while a landline was once required to get a home security system installed in your home, that’s not the case any longer.
Setting up home alarm monitoring without a phone line is easier than ever thanks to cellular technology, Voice of Internet Protocol (VoIP) options and your home internet network. Explore all of the available options to find which is best for you to set up a home security system — no landline required.
Four ways to set up a home security system
There are four main ways to set up a home security system:
- Traditional phone line
- Cellular radio signals
- Voice over Internet Protocol
- High-speed internet connection
While options are great, it’s important to note that each home security technology comes with its own pros and cons. So, let’s dive deeper to help you figure out which home security system is best for you.
Home security systems using a traditional phone line
Home security systems that rely on a traditional phone line use a standard, copper wire to send a communication signal to your alarm monitoring company. A household typically uses the same phone line for both the alarm system and making actual phone calls.
- Pros – Traditional phone lines are known for offering the most reliable of monitoring services, as phone lines are already in nearly every home and the security system can continue to operate during electricity outages.
- Cons – Since they utilize physical, copper wires, traditional phone lines are vulnerable to both natural outages (say from a knocked down tree) and deliberate outages (from a burglar). Also, since traditional phone lines depend on dial-up, the connection is slower than other services.
Home security systems using cellphones
Home security systems that rely on cellphones use wireless digital transmissions, just like your cellphone does, to transmit alarm signals to your monitoring company. Wireless monitoring via a cellular connection was originally developed as a backup in the event of a phone outage but is now offered as its own standalone service.
- Pros – In comparison to a landline security system, a home security system using cellphones can carry more data at greater speeds. Plus, since the connection is wireless, it’s generally tamper-proof, so deliberate outages are extremely rare. Additionally, having a cellphone connection means you can get text alerts and set up remote access.
- Cons – Cellular radio devices require power at home to operate. And in the case of a power outage, its back-up battery generally only lasts anywhere from two to four -4 hours max. Also, if you happen to live in an area with spotty cell service, then your security service signal may be just as spotty.
Home security systems using a VoIP connection
A home security system that relies on a VoIP connection uses analog audio signals, like what you hear when you talk on the phone, and turns them into digital data that can be transmitted over the internet in a method known as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) to communicate with your home monitoring company.
- Pros – VoIP security is often more affordable and feature-rich than landline phone service. Plus, most traditional home alarm panels can connect to a VoIP phone system without your needing to upgrade any of your panel’s hardware.
- Cons – Power to your VoIP security system is dependent upon the power that runs into your home, so your system may go down if the internet or power goes out. Also, some VoIP systems compress their voice signals to make it easier and faster to transport voice traffic. However, this can cause signal distortion, which effectively disables the system’s remote monitoring feature.
Home security systems using an internet connection
Home security systems that rely on the internet use the power of a high-speed internet connection – such as cable, DSL or fiber – to bring your home some of the most advanced security options possible and to communicate with your monitoring company.
- Pros – Internet services are extremely feature rich, giving you the ability to access and control cameras, entry systems, lighting, thermostats and a number of other home security and smart home devices from any web browser or smartphone device.
- Cons – Security systems monitored via the internet require specific hardware to enable the connection, so you’ll likely need to upgrade your system’s panel. Plus, internet connections sometimes lack the reliability necessary for security applications since they require constant power and connectivity to operate.
Features of home security systems using cellphones, VoIP or the internet
Home security systems using cellphone, VoIP or an internet connection can also provide a number of features that you may want to consider, including:
- 24/7 monitoring
- Cellular monitoring
- DIY installation
- Home automation
- Mobile notifications
- Motion detectors
- Remote access
- Security cameras
- Wireless connectivity
Other considerations when choosing a home security system
In addition to the connection type and features, you’ll also want to consider a few other things when choosing a home security system.
- Is there a monthly monitoring fee?
- Is there a price-lock guarantee or free trial period?
- Do you have to sign a multi-year contract?
- Is professional installation required or is there DIY installation?
- How is the customer service experience?
- How is the signal secured? Do they use encryption?
Choosing the right connection for your home security system
Home security systems using cellphones may be the best option for you and your family. Since the connection relies on standalone cell towers near your home or an installed cellular transmitter, there’s less reliance on a landline, internet connection or electrical power reducing your risk of outages.
If you live in an area where cell reception is spotty, you may want to consider other connection types. Although, may companies now offer Wi-Fi backup options for home security systems using cellphones.
In short, a landline is no longer required to get a home security system. You have a number of options to choose from that may provide the best experience — and security — for your home.
Originally published 10/26/16. Last updated 08/23/19.