Intercom Systems



Types of Intercom Systems

Intercom systems are a convenient way to communicate with others, at home, apartments, or office. Intercoms are frequently used as a security measure, allowing the homeowner or front desk personnel to communicate with and verify the identity of someone who wishes to gain access. These systems are available in both audio-only and video-equipped versions, and also hard wired and wireless models.

Audio intercom systems are the most inexpensive and the most common. These systems have been around for a very long time: Audio-only systems have a speaker and microphone at a location such as a gate or door, with a call button that may be used to alert people at the other end that someone would like to speak with them. Many of these systems have a number of smaller stations going back to a larger central station.

Video intercom systems are more expensive, but particularly valuable for security. Home video intercoms are usually all-in-one units mounted at the door, containing a camera, microphone, and speaker so that the homeowner can see who's at the door. Business intercoms range from inexpensive all-in-one units to elaborate systems that not only enable remote door unlocking, but which may be integrated into the premises-wide closed circuit television system.



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For home security, the goal is to prevent home invasion by unwanted people. A speaker is installed one at the doorstep and one inside the house, so the homeowner can identify the person knocking before opening the door. Larger intercom systems may contain stations mounted in different rooms, which enables the occupants the ability to communicate with each other whilst also being able to talk to the visitor at the front door.

Since all stations in an intercom system need power, the larger systems tend to be hard wired. In some cases, security-oriented home intercom systems may also be wired into the alarm system. Particularly sophisticated home intercoms and most commercial intercoms will contain a button that allows remote unlocking of the door or gate. Apartment complexes almost always have intercoms with this feature, so the apartment residents can "buzz in" a visitor without walking all the way down to the lobby.

Wired audio intercoms are particularly popular in the entertainment industry: theatres, radio stations, and TV broadcast facilities have used them for decades to allow communication between backstage staff without disrupting the production. In motorsports, pit crews carry portable intercom systems that interface to the hardwire race course intercom, to speed communication and enable a faster emergency response.

Wireless audio intercom systems in business are closely related to two-way radios, and they may be regulated as such. The primary difference between wireless intercoms and business two-way radios is that wireless intercoms are usually linked into the business' hard-wire system, and may contain additional functions (like being able to unlock doors on the premises.