We’ve come to know it and love it: the wonderful world of wireless. Otherwise known as radio frequency transmission, wireless has gone mainstream, with hands-free and remote capabilities a way of life. If you think electrical contracting has nothing to do with wireless, you’re wrong. Wireless extends your company’s expertise further into profitability by combining the technology with traditional hardwiring where appropriate and allowing you to branch off into new service offerings.

Applications abound for wireless signaling and transmission. At home, wireless devices are the here and now for many households, expanding the functionality and efficiency of the local network. In fact, the attractiveness of wireless has had a major effect on the growth of home networking, reports a recent study by Cahners In-Stat Group, a research firm based in Scottsdale, Ariz.

If you’re doing computer networks, LANs and WANs, adding wireless is sure to pique your customers’ interest, with radio communications within buildings growing in popularity, giving traditional copper cable a run for its money.

The Future Today

With this popularity comes a big surge in bandwidth on the WAN as well. Given the recent extension of Gigabit Ethernet technology to the wide area, the division between the LAN and the WAN is beginning to erode, other than physical boundaries. All forms of data, including voice and video, will be most likely carried as IP packets over a common physical infrastructure. For example, instead of multiple cable types, there will be one cable to each desk, and often none, with wireless links instead, especially for connecting portable devices to the network.

For wireless in low-voltage and security applications, the good news gets better. It’s a great way to get started in security and access control, and there’s even wireless closed-circuit television surveillance. Wireless is the perfect way to bring online a remote building versus installing miles of cabling or fiber optics. Wireless can also be used for a single building on a large campus, or a historical structure where digging trenches or drilling is not allowed. There are also wireless sensors, and of course, all sorts of keyless remotes, panic devices and wireless keypads.

Wireless systems and sensors for short-range applications have become technologically superior. New installation, testing and maintenance features make them easier to deploy and labor efficient. Passive infrared, microwave, ultrasonic and a combination of one or more technologies is common and bring further reliability to the table. Miniaturized and unobtrusive, wireless is smaller and smarter, fitting a host of applications and facilities, from residential to light commercial to heavy-duty and industrial.

Like other security and VDV products, wireless has become more intuitive, according to Al Lizza, director of marketing, The Ademco Group, Syosset, N.Y. “Wireless can move data right to the individual using the system, and do it intelligently. For example, bi-directional functions let the user know that the intended command did happen, with devices that state in plain English that the system has been armed, disarmed, etc.”

Linear Corp., Carlsbad, Calif., one of the pioneers of radio for alarm signaling, transmission and other functions, continues to see growth in wireless and as a result, a constant flow of emerging and new applications, according to Don Garnevicus, customer service manager and OEM sales.

He concurs that wireless devices have become smaller and smarter, making them more versatile for the end-user. “Electrical contractors have a tremendous opportunity if they get to know and understand wireless. They are one of the first contractors on the job, and the possibilities for wireless are huge. Wireless should be part of a turnkey installation and one-stop shopping the electrical contractor provides the customer,” he added.

Wireless opens a new world of installation applications for the electrical contractor. It can be used on its own in security, control, monitoring, remote and convenience and many other applications, or, layered with hardwired systems. Systems and sensors are technologically superior, unobtrusive and smarter, making wireless a logical way to add low-voltage to the business. EC

O’MARA is the president of DLO Communications in Park Ridge, Ill., specializing in low-voltage. She can be reached at 847.384.1916 or domara@flash.net.