If you’re looking for a new apartment intercom system, there are many factors to consider to make sure the one you choose is right for your building.

We’ll take you through everything from basic functionality to more advanced features, and explain why they matter.

That doesn’t mean you know how to actively search for the right one, though.

After all, it’s not straightforward if you’ve never been involved in getting an intercom system before.

There are so many factors to consider like: 

  • What is your budget?
  • Which features are necessary for your system?
  • Tenant needs
  • Who are the best brands to use?
  • What’s the best hardware for your complex?
  • And more

That’s a lot to wade through to make sure you’re making the right choice, but we have you covered.

Keep reading along for our comprehensive guide that contains everything you need to know, from what these systems are to their benefits and what you should consider during your search for the perfect system.

What is an Apartment Intercom System?

An apartment intercom system (also commonly referred to as a ‘buzzer’) is a standalone, two-way communication device that can be used within an apartment complex or small collection of buildings to grant tenants and visitors property access.

These function outside of the public telephone network and are generally installed at the entryway of a building, consisting of a speaker, microphone, and more commonly, a camera to allow for video.

This audio and video are captured and transmitted to each building’s different tenants, used by visitors of apartment-dwellers to announce they’ve arrived and request entry to the complex or building.

Residents can then see and hear who they’re talking to, verifying potential visitors’ identity and safety before welcoming them into their spaces. And it isn’t even an inconvenience.

Thanks to today’s technology, residents can manage doors from anywhere, and managers have the ability to review access on their end.

Property managers can add or revoke permissions at a moment’s notice. It’s good for them, tenants, and visitors alike and installing an apartment intercom system or replacing an old existing system is often a no-brainer.

You may find that the current system in place is no longer functioning properly, or you might be looking to replace an existing system that was installed by previous management teams.

Either way, before you install or replace an intercom system it’s important to do some research so you can find the best apartment security system for your building.

System Benefits

Now that you know a little bit more about the basics of apartment intercom systems, you’re probably wondering about their benefits.

Practically every apartment building or multi-tenant housing could benefit from installing this kind of technology.

It adds a level of safety and security that you just don’t otherwise get with doorbells or personal solutions since those are apartment-specific rather than covering the whole building or complex.

Using intercoms protects the entirety of the property and gives those who live there some peace of mind knowing they have near-complete control of who goes in or out.

On top of this, there are also some other great perks of having an intercom in place.

Here are just a few of the most significant:

  • Allows for easy communication. Nowadays, you can’t let just anyone into your apartment complex and home. Just opening the door to anyone is a bad idea, meaning communication needs to happen between residents and visitors. Intercoms make that simple and straightforward. They are typically installed on each door and are designed to send an audible message, which indicates the user activated the intercom, or it is a bad connection. They serve as a great convenience for the tenant and guests.
  • More secure delivery management. Apartment intercom systems don’t only make sense for safety and easy communication, although they certainly excel there. They’re also a convenience in our era of constant package deliveries, giving property staff the ability to grant access to delivery drivers without even having to leave the front desk. Ultimately, this saves both time and hassle.
  • Happier staff. Intercom systems go a long way to helping out overburdened desk workers and other staff members, giving them the ability to focus on their responsibilities rather than constantly letting delivery drivers, maintenance people, postal workers, and others in and out of buildings. Happier staff naturally follows, as does increased productivity – something beneficial for all.
  • Healthier and more COVID-conscious. The pandemic has made social distancing an absolute must, putting a significant burden on finding a new apartment or living situation. Intercoms smooth this over and make it to where anyone can take a self-guided, solo tour before making any decisions or signing off on any papers. Staff doesn’t need any direct interaction, only to buzz them in.

10 Questions To Ask Prior To Getting An Apartment Intercom System

  • Are you looking for a wireless system or a wired one?
  • Do you need video functionality?
  • Will it be used on a mobile device?
  • Do you need the system to be cloud-based?
  • Does it need to integrate with any other systems?
  • How much will it cost to install the system and get the hardware?
  • Do you have multiple entrances?
  • Do you prefer touchless access?
  • Are there ongoing fees associated with the system?
  • Does the company you’re using have stellar reviews and track record?

Do you need a wireless or wired intercom system?

Choosing whether you’ll be installing a wired or wireless intercom system is important to know as each option comes with different reasons for use.

If it’s an important system, we recommend going with a wired solution, but if it’s not too concerning for you, then wireless will do just fine.

For the most part, we usually recommend against going with a system that operates over a cell connection or WiFi signal. Wired connections are much more reliable as cellular or WiFi issues can cause problems with your system.

Most materials apartment buildings are made from, like concrete and steel, will cause connectivity issues for wireless systems. This will lead to frustration with tenants and visitors and usually not worth the headache if you can avoid it.

Does your apartment need video intercoms?

There is no question that you need video intercoms, as the advancements in technology have made them a necessity.

They are able to be installed on buildings of any size without altering the appearance. The multi-camera options allow you to be very discreet and monitored wherever you are by your family or friends from home or work.

Video intercom systems also allow for communication with those outside of the building, whether they will be coming by and entering through a specific door, sending an emergency notification to your family without requiring them to physically come over, or any other number of applications that make these systems practical for use in today’s society.

Video transfers take up a lot more bandwidth compared to the alternative, but having a video intercom has a lot of benefits too.

Residents tend to get a lot of visitors coming to see them, from family and friends to delivery people. Tenants like to see who is coming to see them before just letting them inside.

This allows your residents to confirm who is visiting them prior to letting them inside as well as deter crime. When people know they’re being recorded, they’re usually on their best behavior.

This is a great option for additional security in your complex. You get date and time-stamped visuals of everyone entering and leaving.

Is a mobile app necessary?

Apps are becoming more commonplace in today’s society and many apartment complexes offer this option with the installation of their intercom system.

We recommend having a system that works with a mobile app because it can allow a tenant to open their door from anywhere. Tenants can grant entry to people while they are not there to make their lives easier.

If you choose a video intercom as well, the tenant can see who it is before letting the person inside. Be sure to check the ratings of the app. You don’t want reviews stating the app doesn’t work or has issues.

Does your system need to be cloud-based?

Cloud-based technology is a relatively new concept, but it has already become very important in many different industries.

The biggest benefit of cloud technology is that it allows you to eliminate the need for your entire building’s intercom system to be physically connected to one another.

Any building with an internet connection can access their intercom, which can be useful if you have multiple buildings or units.

Cloud-based systems can also save time and money. You can switch intercom systems from one apartment complex to the next in just a few seconds with everything already in place, without the need for any installation or additional hardware.

A cloud-based intercom system is very convenient for staff and tenants. It allows tenants and staff to manage the system remotely if need be. Adding or removing permissions, updating directories, self-guided tours, and audit trails are a few things that can be accessed, changed, or viewed from the cloud.

Are there other systems that need to integrate with your intercom?

Do you currently have an access control or property management system your intercom needs to connect with? It’s worth seeing if it’s an option.

As an example, if you can connect your access control system to your intercom, you’ll be able to have a touchless access system on your property. Or, if you want your property management system to connect to the intercom system as well, then multiple systems and databases only need to be updated once.

By thinking about what can integrate with your intercom system, you’ll have a lot more control over how your overall system works. Once they’re all up and running, it’s extremely convenient for all involved as well.

What are the hardware and installation costs?

Normally costing between $1,000-$6,000 for a typical intercom system, that doesn’t include installation and any fees associated with the hardware.

The hardware will vary in price depending on the features you’re looking to have, but any fees and installation costs will vary depending on the complexity of the project, the wiring needed for the job, and how many pieces of hardware need to be put up.

Each company will have varied pricing in how much time they think will be involved.

The main factors impacting installation costs are:

  • Number of intercom systems being installed. If you have multiple entryways, then more hardware may be needed.
  • Where the system is being installed and how hard it will be to access the installation area. The installation may require additional wiring, new wiring, possible demolition, etc.
  • What the wiring needs are. Cabling and wiring installation can take up a good chunk of the installation costs as it costs people and time to run wire.
  • Will hardware be needed for each apartment? If every unit needs a system that incorporates hardware in each tenant’s space, then hours and hardware costs will go up since the project will take longer to complete.
  • How knowledgeable your installer is. It costs more if the company you go with is inexperienced. There may be missed hardware not included in the original quote, mistakes in the estimated hours needed to complete the job, damages to your workplace, or anything else that can cost you more money.

Don’t be afraid to ask the company you’re getting a quote for to break out the cost of installation and hardware so you can see the costs associated with your project. This will also help you in evaluating quotes as well.

How many entrances do you need an intercom system for?

Do you have multiple entrances? Some apartment buildings might have a vestibule area where both sets of doors need to be managed and opened by the system. If someone is dropping off a package, maybe just the first door needs to open for them.

A single system can be programmed for many different combinations of door openings and who can access each entrance. If you only have one entrance or even just one exterior door, a single intercom system will meet your needs.

What about elevators?

Building codes, fire prevention and even private insurance companies require that people be notified if there is an emergency in the building, such as a fire. If you have an elevator, an intercom system is usually required.

Knowing this ahead of time is helpful in getting the right system.

Do you need your access control to be touchless?

With the pandemic bringing light to the spreading of viruses and germs, a touchless system is a great option to keep contact to a minimum.

Not only can you grant access remotely via a phone app, but you can pick and choose who gets access to what areas of your building without ever coming in contact with them.

Residents, staff, visitors, and tenants can all have the same ability to grant access to specific people while adding convenience and keeping health protocols in place.

Making sure your intercom system can integrate with an automated door opening system is another thing to think about.

Are there any ongoing fees you need to be aware of or account for?

It’s possible that with the addition of hardware and installation costs for your intercom system, there is an ongoing maintenance fee along with it.

If your system is cloud-based, having a company manage that for you will be a monthly fee, and those will vary as well. It’s well worth it so that you get the most out of your system with continuous upgrades and the latest technology.

Be sure to get a quote on that as well, or at least be aware of the fees prior to installation.

Are you aware of the reputation of your installation company?

So you’ve got a few quotes for your job, and you have the right intercom system for your needs. Do you truly know the company that will be installing your system?

Reviews will be a big help to see the experience others had with the same company. Are they reliable, helpful, friendly, knowledgeable, safe, and get the job done well?

You can always ask for recommendations from people you know who’ve gotten the same project done.

Also, be sure to get a company that’s close to your area in case there’s an emergency, and they need to show up on-site. Some companies will travel far to install a system, but it will take them time to get back to you if there’s an urgent need.

We hope you enjoyed reading this guide as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you. If you’re in need of an intercom installer, Building Security Services has you covered.

We know what to look for, what questions to ask, and yes, our reviews speak for themselves. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with your intercom project.

Joseph Ferdinando is the visionary founder of Building Security Services, a leading security company renowned for its comprehensive security services. With an illustrious career spanning over 40 years in the security industry, Joseph has been instrumental in elevating the standards of security guard services for a broad spectrum of businesses and organizations. As an influential member of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) in both New York and New Jersey chapters, Joseph has played a pivotal role in shaping industry standards and practices.