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Wired Vs. Wireless Sensors

March 23rd, 2023 | 8 min. read

Wired Vs. Wireless Sensors

Saanthia Bulchandani

Saanthia is passionate about the future of work, and providing workplace, real estate, and facilities teams with the latest data to optimize their spaces.

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As the purpose of the workplace continues to evolve, occupancy is becoming more and more unpredictable. CRE leaders and workplace experts alike are grappling with the same reality of making high-stakes decisions quickly and confidently in an ever-changing landscape. 

And as a result, in this world of inconsistent occupancy, optimizing for cost and experience is harder than ever before. 

So, how are businesses gathering occupancy data? 

Today, we will delve into the two types of occupancy sensors— wired and wireless— and compare their respective benefits and drawbacks. 

After perusing this article, you will walk away with an understanding of which of these sensors is right for your workplace and unique business needs. 

What is a wired sensor? 

A wired sensor is a device that is connected to the cloud or server using a PoE (Power over Ethernet) cable that provides both power and data transmission. This type of sensor requires cabling to be run from the server room to the sensor location. 

Wired sensors are typically used in new construction or renovation projects where access to the ceiling is available and cabling can be easily installed. They provide a high data transfer rate which results in a low latency analytics data feed. 

Benefits of a wired sensor

1. They provide a stable and reliable connection

Wired sensors need to be connected to a wired network, which provides a reliable and stable connection. The wired connection ensures that data is transmitted consistently without any interference, signal loss or interruption. 

Additionally, these sensors provide a consistent and reliable bandwidth for data transmission, which is critical for capturing and analyzing real-time behavioral data, such as the presence of human beings entering and exiting your offices. can be critical for certain applications that require high levels of data transfer or real-time data monitoring. 

Wired sensors provide a more stable and accurate data signal, which can improve the quality of the data being collected. This is particularly important for applications that require precise measurements or real-time monitoring.

They typically have a low latency, or delay in data transmission, which can be critical for applications that require real-time data processing or control.

2. They are secure

Wired sensors are physically connected to a network using cables, which makes it secure against hacking and unauthorized access. A person must physically access the sensor to tamper with it, which is challenging in cabled networks. In fact, any attempts to interfere with the sensors would be immediately visible to anyone monitoring the network.

Wired networks can be physically secured, with access controlled by network administrators. This makes it easier to control who has access to the data collected by the sensors and to monitor for any suspicious activity. Since these sensors transmit data over a closed circuit, it is challenging for unauthorized parties to intercept the data. 

3. Accurate data transmission

Wired sensors provide precise and accurate data transmission because they are not subject to interference from other devices, weather conditions or physical obstructions. 

4. Lower maintenance costs

Wired sensors are generally less expensive to maintain over the long term compared to wireless sensors, because they do not require batteries or frequent updates. Once installed, wired sensors can be left in place without requiring any further attention or maintenance. 

Drawbacks of a wired sensor

1. Cost ineffective if you have a short lease term

Wired installations can sometimes require infrastructure changes and may not make sense for companies for shorter lease terms, which usually refers to a 3-5 year period. This can be cost ineffective in the long term. 

VergeSense, however, makes the installation of our wired sensors in the least disruptive and fastest way compared to any other solution on the market– your sensors will be successfully installed and commissioned within 90 days, the fastest in the sector. We also offer a unique blended deployment, which means that you can have a cabled deployment coupled with a wireless one for the areas that you can’t run cables to. 

2. Limited mobility

Wired sensors are often less flexible in terms of placement, as they require a physical connection to the network. This may limit the number of possible locations where sensors can be placed or limit the ability to move sensors as needed. 

These sensors also may limit mobility of the equipment or machinery they are connected to as the sensors are connected by a physical cable. 

This isn’t the case for VergeSense sensors, however, as our sensors are not connected to equipment or machinery, and therefore can remain flexible in terms of placement. 

3. Can lead to compromised aesthetics

Running cables to a wired sensor could impact the aesthetics of your workplace. Wired sensors can disrupt the overall look and feel of a space if you don’t put them behind walls or in the ceiling. This, however, isn’t a problem in today’s day where design considerations are thought of prior to installation. 

What is a wireless sensor? 

A wireless sensor uses a wireless communication protocol such as WiFi or Bluetooth for data transmission, and a battery pack to provide power. VergeSense wireless sensors, however, use a proprietary mesh protocol unlike WiFi or Bluetooth, and therefore don’t face interference with other networks, which could be a problem with other wireless sensors. 

The main advantage of a wireless sensor is that it doesn’t require cabling to be run and can be installed quickly and easily. However, wireless sensors may not be suitable for environments where there is a lot of interference or obstacles that can disrupt the wireless signal. 

Benefits of a wireless sensor

1. They are flexible and can be installed anywhere

One of the biggest benefits of wireless sensors is that they do not require any physical cabling to transmit data. Since these sensors are attached to magnets, they can be placed anywhere, from open area spaces (like collaboration areas), to meeting rooms, phone booths, desk areas and café spaces. 

As a result, this flexibility lends itself to scalability, and wireless sensors can easily be scaled up or down depending on the needs of a particular environment. Additional sensors can be added as needed without requiring significant infrastructure changes or the installation of additional cabling. 

2. Network architecture flexibility

Wireless sensors can be connected to a network in a variety of ways, including mesh networks, Wi-Fi, cellular, or LoRaWAN. VergeSense wireless sensors connect to the gateway using a proprietary mesh protocol. The gateway can then connect to the cloud via WiFi, cellular, or ethernet. 

This allows businesses to choose the most appropriate network architecture for their particular needs, whether that involves collecting data from a few sensors or from hundreds or thousands of sensors spread out over a wide area. 

3. Significantly cheaper than a wired solution

The up front costs are significantly less for wireless sensors because a cable does not need to be run. The average cost to run a cable is $1,000, and since cables need to be run to every sensor in the office, this cost adds up quickly.

Additionally, these sensors require little maintenance, making them more cost-effective than their wired counterparts in the long-run. 

4. Cheap and easy to install

A VergeSense wireless sensor takes about 10 minutes to install, as it is attached to a magnet, so simply has to be snapped in place. Wired sensors can take up to 3 times more time (around 30 minutes) to install, as they require cabling as part of installation, and subsequent configuration. This means that businesses can quickly deploy wireless sensor solutions and start collecting data in a shorter period of time. 

As a result, wireless sensors are great for dynamic spaces where they can be re-deployed with much more ease. 

Drawbacks of a wireless sensor

1. The possibility of interference

Wireless sensors rely on radio waves to transmit data, and other devices that use the same frequency range, such as Wi-Fi routers, Bluetooth devices, and cordless phones, can cause Radio Frequency Interference, or RFI. Before purchasing wireless sensors, it’s important to ask your vendor whether interference could be a potential issue. This interference can lead to poor data transmission or even a complete loss of data. 

VergeSense sensors, however, use a proprietary protocol for our wireless devices that avoids interference, so it isn’t impacted by other radio frequencies such as wifi or bluetooth. 

2. Signal blockage or congestion

Wireless signals can be blocked or weakened by physical obstacles, such as walls, metal surfaces, or other electronic devices. In some cases, if the wireless sensor is located in a spot where the signal is weak, the data may be corrupted or lost altogether. 

In environments where there are many wireless devices in use, such as large offices or crowded public spaces, the airwaves can become congested, leading to slower data transmission or signal loss.

VergeSense wireless sensors don’t have this issue, as our robust deployment planning process also takes into account this protocol to avoid issues with signal blocking. 

A wired sensor solution is right for you if… 

  1. Your organization has fixed locations, operations or requires data from specific areas within your facility. 

  2. You monitor large-scale operations and require high data, as wired sensors can transmit large volumes of data over a wired network.

  3. You have a long-term lease for all your offices. 

A wireless sensor solution is right for you if… 

  1. Your organization is flexible, and has changing operational requirements or needs to monitor different areas within your facility.

  2. Your organization has short leases, around 3-5 years each. 

  3. Your business is in a high-growth mode, and will likely be scaling up or down. 

VergeSense is the only Occupancy Intelligence Platform on the market that offers both solutions 

Occupancy intelligence is how workplace, real estate, and facilities teams gain a true understanding of how and when their portfolio and spaces are actually used so they don’t have to compromise between reducing cost and improving employee experience in a world where occupancy is increasingly dynamic.

The VergeSense Occupancy Intelligence Platform offers wireless as well as wired sensors, and has the fastest installation process (less than 90 days) than any other sensor technology in the market. It is also the only solution on the market that offers both wired and wireless options, depending on the types of data you are trying to capture and analyze. 

To learn more about our installation process, check out “What is the VergeSense Installation Process?”