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6 Different Types of Intercom Systems: What to Choose for Your Business?

Commercial intercom systems can bring your business security to the next level. Learn the common types of intercom systems and choose the best for your needs!

6 Different Types of Intercom Systems: What to Choose for Your Business?

Business and commercial intercom systems offer you extra security and keep your business and your employees safe at all times. Learn the different types of intercoms and choose one that is perfect for your needs!

The right commercial intercom system can offer you extra security and give you invaluable peace of mind. They allow you to view and communicate with whoever is at your door prior to opening it; this keeps your business and your employees safe. There are many different types of commercial video intercom systems that offer a variety of different levels of security according to your needs.

What Is a Commercial Intercom System?

The primary goal of wired intercom systems within your company is to allow two-way communication between various points. This allows those who are enabled to talk and communicate with one another. Even though the same can be accomplished with mobile phones, a business intercom system allows those within a building to see or hear the person who wants access control before a door or gate is opened. This helps to manage and enable communication while keeping the property safe. A ommercial video intercom system may be part of a larger access control system for your company.

Intercom System Components

Wireless intercom systems for apartment buildings consist of two separate components: a base station and one or several substations. The base station is the most important component of an intercom system; a base station can also be called a master station and is generally installed at the entrance and connected to the substation(s). The substations are installed at key points within the building.

A wireless intercom for apartments is an important component of a security system and investing in the base station is essential because it will allow your tenants the flexibility to use apps to control access into the building.

Intercom Station

A basic intercom system’s base station allows visitors or delivery personnel to communicate with the people inside the building to request access. The base station is the most important component of an intercom system because it controls the entire system. It must be connected to a power source, a door release device, and every substation within the building. 

The substations can be connected to the base station wirelessly or hardwired, depending on your needs or preference. The base station allows tenants to be in control of their basic intercom system which controls the access to the building. 

Intercom Substation

basic intercom system

Historically, intercom substations were bulky pieces of hardware installed at certain points within the building. Today, this is still an option, but more modern substations rely on smartphone systems such as wireless intercom systems for apartment buildings. This allows the tenants to communicate and see via video who is requesting access.

The latter can only be possible if the base station has a video camera connected to it. The tenants within the building can grant access to the visitors or delivery personnel by using a “door open” button. It is recommended to install a video intercom system for apartments that is smartphone compatible because it will allow you access to features such as keyless entry, remote property access, and two-way video calls.

Common Types of Business Intercom Systems

Basic intercom systems are convenient and offer a great deal of security, whether it is an office building, an apartment building, or any other type of multi-entry building. 

  • Secure delivery: Security is a key feature of any building. With a rise in delivery and variable schedules, having the ability to control access remotely is an important part of building management. 
  • Convenience: Having a secure intercom system is an attraction for tenants looking to settle or move into an office space that works for them. 
  • Enhancing the building's reputation: Security in the form of a convenient basic intercom system will facilitate the acquisition of new tenants or tenant retention for long periods. 
  • Reducing operational costs: Business management can be a difficult task depending on the number of tenants at every given moment within the building or the size of the building itself. A basic intercom system offers a property management company security while offering their tenants convenience. 
  • Increases property value: An intercom system adds value to the building. All property management companies need to prioritize safety and infrastructure, and through intercom systems prices are not always low, it is a worthwhile investment for the future of the building to install a modern intercom. 

1. Wireless Intercom

Wireless Intercom

Wireless intercom systems transmit video and audio much like a stationary security camera placed at your door, an automated bouncer of sorts for your home. Some wireless intercoms use radio waves, but commonly they use the standard 802.11 wireless frequency. Wireless intercoms also allow people inside the home to communicate with each other using the intercom system. Wireless systems are portable and often less expensive than their wired counterparts, however, when investing in a wireless system it is important to ensure that it’s encrypted to prevent any tampering. These wireless intercoms can be used as doorbells and allow the person to communicate with a visitor without ever opening the door.

2. Audio Intercoms

Commercial intercoms often include audio intercom systems. These might also be referred to as apartment buzzer, as it allows a commercial building to speak with those outside of the building. This helps the tenant to grant access to the building visitor. It's common for audio intercom systems to be installed in older buildings as modern access control systems often use video. In the case that you're designing and building a new property, consider a video intercom system so you can have better control over your commercial properties.

3. Video Intercom

Video Intercom

A video intercom system enables communication from the outside to the inside of the home without ever opening the door. It is a way for residents and visitors to speak to one another audio visually while establishing a safe perimeter. The video intercom system consists of many parts, such as an outdoor panel with a doorbell and camera; and an electronic lock on the inside with a monitor to transmit the audio and visual from the exterior of the door. The cameras on the outdoor panel usually consist of weatherproof materials, have night vision capabilities and a microphone to pick up the voice of the visitor.

4. Hard-Wired Intercom

Hard-Wired Intercom

Hard-wired intercoms are wired from the outside of the residence by a cable connecting them to the device on the inside. Though they are more costly to install, maintain, and repair, they are more dependable than a wireless device; hacking or tampering with a wired intercom is nearly impossible. Hard-wired intercoms also are more reliable in the sense that they are not battery operated, nor do they rely on the wi-fi connection; they also have a greater range for they are not bound by vulnerabilities of the internet connection.

5. Carrier-Current Intercom

Carrier-Current Intercom

A carrier-current intercom system is a more rudimentary system than other ones on the market. It uses the AC electrical system to receive power in a low-medium frequency AM signal, which allows it to work side by side with the electrical grid of the structure in question. The quality of the audio is not as clear as in wired or wireless systems and its range is not far spread. It is, however, as reliable as a hard-wired intercom system but many of the features will be lacking.

6. Automatic Gate Entry

Automatic Gate Entry

An automatic gate entry system is very similar to a smart intercom doorbell but rather than being right at your doorstep it is a security measure for not only your home but your entire property. Nobody can enter your property without permission, or a transmitter, or a code, or being buzzed in. This offers an invaluable, additional layer to your security. The mechanics of such a device are simple; it uses an electric motor that opens and closes the gate-controlled via a transmitter that can be on hand or wireless or a code.

7. Mobile Connected Intercoms

Mobile Connected Intercoms

Nowadays, thanks to smart technology, our handheld devices such as smartphones can very easily be connected to our intercom systems. For example, with Google assistance, Alexa, just to mention a few, and a wide range of apps, safety and security are no longer out of our reach but right at our fingertips.

Commercial Intercom Systems: Top Features to Look For

There are many available commercial intercom system options at your fingertips. It's important that you know what you're looking for so you can choose the right one to protect your company.

Video Feature

Rather than only being able to talk to those who want access to your property, it's important to be able to see them. Traditional telephone-based systems are unable to provide you with this feature, so it's important that you find a commercial video intercom system. This helps you see who is requesting access before you allow them into your property. There are so many people who might approach your property, so it's important that you can visually confirm the identity of the individual at the door.

Integrations with Other Security Systems

Commercial intercoms should ideally be able to connect with other technical aspects of keeping your property safe. For example, you can invest in wireless commercial intercoms that pair with your property management software to sync tenant information in the directory. Or maybe you want to connect your system with smart locks so tenants can use one app for access control. By streamlining your technology, it simplifies who can gain access to your property through solutions such as a mobile app. 

Contactless and Touchless Entry

Touchless access is convenient and sought-after by security teams. Contactless entry means visitors can receive access remotely. You won't need to hire staff or a tenant to be on-site to let someone in. Touchless entry is when a staff member, tenant, etc. can enter the building without having to touch the door or gate. This creates an overall seamless experience. 

Several Property Access Methods

The best commercial intercom system is one that allows guests to access your property in more than one way. For example, you could implement virtual keys, voice commands, delivery PINs, a mobile app, or Bluetooth access. 

Accessibility at Gates and Parking Entrances

Building owners might also need to grant access to multiple tenants through gates and parking entrances. Granting access through these locations can help keep away unwanted visitors and keep cars safe in parking garages.

Intercom System Installation: 3 Things to Consider

How much it costs to install or replace your current system depends on the wiring, the type of intercom being installed and the location.

For example, if you're installing a system with substations located in individual apartment units, it will be more complicated and expensive. However, if you are using a system that utilizes an app to communicate, this will cost less. Make sure to factor in these various applications to determine what is best for your property in both the short term and the long term.

Where you install the system, such as if you're replacing an existing system that already has the wiring in place, will impact how long the process takes. This will also make it less expensive if the backbox is already in its proper location. However, some base stations need to be installed which requires breaking walls or tearing down bricks, which will make the process more expensive and difficult.

How Much Does a Business Intercom System Cost?

Office intercoms can cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000 depending on many factors. In some cases, it can cost even more based on features and functionality. This up-front cost doesn't factor in ongoing maintenance or servicing of the system which can include replacement parts and upgrades. Even if it seems like a steep price to pay, nothing is more important than the safety of your entire building at all times.


When choosing an intercom system to protect your company, it's essential that you find an experienced company that will walk you through every step of the process. At Forbel, we know that every business is unique. It is time to find out what intercom system best suits you and your business. 

We are a full-service security system integrator that can assist with intercom system installation in Chicago and surrounding areas of Illinois, Wisconsin, and beyond. For more information and guidance, please feel free to get more information. There is no time to wait because security and safety are the way of the future.


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Dzmitry Beliayeu
Dzmitry Beliayeu

Dzmitry Beliayeu is a commercial building security expert, technology consultant, and licensed alarm contractor

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