Wired vs. Wireless Connections

  • Wired vs. Wireless Connections

    Wired vs. Wireless

    Author’s note: While I have tried to keep any personal bias out of this post but it should still be read in the context of the idea that we would like to be preferred vendor for cable assembly and wire harness development and manufacturing.


    The debate between using wireless or wired devices and networks often comes up in a few different contexts. Whether it is a personal Internet network for a home or in commercial applications like a wireless ECG/EKG monitor, technology has made it possible for numerous wireless items to reach the market. The question is whether wireless or wired options are better for the needs of the individual or company.

    Comparison for Personal Use:

    Wired vs Wireless - Connection - personal internet use

    Wired vs Wireless - Connection - Consume / Personal Use

    The use of a wireless router and a wireless system in a house or for personal devices like phones, MP3 players or similar portable electronics is a long-term trend. In personal use, wireless and wired options are often related to Internet usage. Both options, wired and wireless connectivity have their advantages and disadvantages that appeal on a personal level.

    One of the first considerations is the level of convenience. In the case of convenience at home or on the road, wireless options are often the most convenient choice. Wireless networks can be accessed from any computer in the vicinity of the router, making it possible to connect several computers in one house. Another advantage is the ability to use wireless chargers and wireless devices while on the go. A wired connection is less versatile in personal use, so when it comes to convenience the wired options are at a disadvantage.

    Security is another consideration with wired and wireless networking. In this category, wired networks are generally better because the security built into the system is better than a wireless option. Wireless will require taking some additional measures to secure the connection. That said, many wireless routers in the market today offer security settings at the click of a single button mounted on the front panel of the router or the switch. All too often, it would users own actions (visiting sites with malicious software and viruses, opening suspect emails, putting credit card information on unsecure webpages etc.) that will compromise their security before someone breaks through their WEP or WPA encryption.

    Reliability is another feature to look for when determining whether to use wired or wireless connections. In the case of reliability, wired connections are generally best because interference is not an issue and speed remains steady as a result of the wire. With wireless networks one can casually walk in and out of the wireless’s range, often resulting in a dropped connection. Overall, the wireless connections do tend to be a little more fickle, often for reasons that the end user may never fully resolve.

    Wired connections (@ 1000 mbps) remain at least three times faster than their wireless counter parts (@ 300 mbps) at least at the time of writing this article. Although this should have little to no impact on most end users since most residential broadband internet providers offer speeds well below the 300 mbps and at the same time, there is nothing stopping the end use from connecting their computers to the modem on as and when required basis.

    In the area of personal use, wired devices have an advantage of being more secure and reliable than a wireless option. Unfortunately, in this area convenience will often outweigh the advantages of the wired options.

    Comparison for Commercial Use:

    Sample Wire Harness Used in Commercial Application

    Sample Wire Harness Used in Commercial Application

    While personal Internet usage and personal devices might use a wireless network, when it comes to commercial needs the determination of which system is better varies on different opinions and the needs of the products. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each system can make a difference between which system is better. In the case of commercial usage, or the use of commercial devices, the advantages and disadvantages might seem surprising.

    One of the major considerations is the cost associated with a wire harness versus a wireless option. The wired device is infinitely less costly to develop and make, thus it is ultimately less costly to buy. When making commercial devices it is much less costly than putting together the components of a wireless system. The wired system has a clear advantage over the wireless when it comes to price, especially of the device is for a custom application and low volume.

    Electrical equipment with miniature circuit breakers, terminals and relays.

    Electrical equipment with miniature circuit breakers, terminals and relays.

    Another consideration with wired and wireless commercial devices is the reliability. Since wireless will often have interference from other devices, the wired system is clearly superior in this instance. The design engineer or the developer would have one less variable to accommodate if they take the wired route. At the same time the designer can concentrate on the task at hand rather than spending time and resources on making a wireless system work, as well as meeting any regulatory requirements from independent bodies such as FCC. Commercial devices frequently require very reliability built into the system. The risk of losing the connection, or just degraded performance due to interference from external sources makes wireless options less advantageous.

    As with any other system, wired connections are more secure than wireless options. In a commercial device, this security might make the difference between losing valuable data on the device or keeping it safe.

    In commercial systems, a wired device is clearly superior to the wireless system because of the ease of product development; reliability; reasonable cost and security outweigh any minor convenience a wireless option might provide.

    Comparison for Industrial Usage:

    When considering whether to opt for wireless or wired solutions in an industrial setting, the factors are often different from personal usage or commercial usage. Using wired connectivity is sometimes the only available choice due to the fact that many industrial devices might not be economical to build and set up on a wireless interface.

    Industrial Controls Screen

    Industrial Controls Screen

    The first consideration related to industrial devices is the development cost of wireless. Industrial devices often require the use of custom cables and wire harnesses to allow the items to work effectively. In many cases, the cost of trying to develop a wireless system that will work integrate with the existing setup could be substantial. Often, there would lie more value in adding additional features in the same budget as opposed to making an effort on reliably and securely transmitting data over the wireless. Off course here the assumption is that any such system will need to transmit the data or I/O signals in real time; often attaching laptop to such a system and re-relaying the information over the wireless would make more financial sense.

    The effectiveness of the equipment is another key point that industries must consider before looking into wireless options. As with any other system, a wireless device made for industries will have the limitations of any other electronic or similar item. The problem with this is the fact that the system might have interference that makes equipment stop working when it is on a wireless system. That can result in costly delays for a production line as then the line or system would be down or the data will be buffered all the while the cause of failure and a resolution is being determined.

    Industries need reliable systems and many items like a programmable logic controller or current testers cannot afford the potential reliability problems that may be introduced with the wireless option. A PLC in particular is not worth creating as a wireless system because interference from common devices like cell phones might even put lives in danger as might happen if the PLC system at an amusement park suddenly lost the connection as there was one more variable for its proper operation.

    Row of the liquid gas tanks

    Row of the liquid gas tanks

    Another factor that industries must consider is security. Poor security in a wireless system can be complicated to manage on the large scale of industrial equipment or computers. This can not only become expensive, but it can result in problems like viruses that ruin the system. A cable assembly is by design more secure, so the system is easier to keep from any security breaches.

    For industrial use, a wired system is a better option than trying to develop wireless options. The cost of traditional wire harness options, custom cable needs and cable assembly combined with the reliability and security makes a wired system the obvious choice for industries. Wireless is not an option when it can result in danger and potentially expensive delays.

    The choice between wireless and wired systems is often a matter of using common sense and weighing the pros and cons. In a personal home or individual devices, a wireless system might be the most convenient and does not have the risks of commercial and industrial equipment and devices. For those looking at a commercial device or industrial systems, wired options are generally the better choice as a result of better safety and reliability.



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