IP Intercom Selection and Comparison

Review of Audio and Video Intercoms

IP Intercom Concept
IP Intercom Concept

There are a variety of network-attached intercoms. Some connect to a central computer, while others connect to smartphone apps. The new IP intercoms use your network infrastructure, are powered over Ethernet (PoE), include IP cameras, and have great features and functions that were never available with the old analog intercoms. They can open doors, integrate with IP camera systems and door access control systems to provide a complete security system.

In general, IP intercoms consist of an audio amplifier, microphone, I/O connections, a special-purpose computer, and an interface to the network. This article reviews the different models of IP intercoms and how they can be used.

Connecting Two IP Intercoms Together

One to One Connections

Audio intercoms connect to the network, and in the simplest configuration, one intercom can be connected to another intercom. This configuration provides two-way audio conversations between two locations.

Two Intercoms Communicate
Two Intercoms Communicate

The two IP intercoms are configured so that they know each other’s IP addresses. When a person pushes the call button, the other intercom sounds an alert sound, and communication is enabled between the two intercoms.

Application: Two-way audio communication between two points can be used to communicate between two rooms or even two different buildings as long as both intercoms are on the same network. One intercom can control an electric lock providing a simple visitor control system.

Several IP Intercoms Can Communicate to a Central Control station

Many Intercoms to One Control Center Configuration

Many audio IP intercoms can communicate to a central control center. In this case, the software is added to a Windows computer to facilitate the communication channels. It allows a person on a Windows computer to communicate to any IP intercom on the network. The person at the central station can talk to one of the intercoms or any group of intercoms simultaneously. The intercom call buttons can be used to contact the central location.

IP Intercoms Concept
IP Intercoms Concept

Application: In a school, the administration can contact one or many schoolrooms.  The principal can use the intercom system to make general announcements through the intercoms, or the teacher can contact the office using the classroom intercoms.  

IP Intercoms Can be Used for Door Access Control

Intercoms Can Control Doors

Intercoms can be used at the door to notify a security center that someone would like to enter.

IP-Intercoms for Door Access
IP-Intercoms for Door Access

The intercoms have built-in relays that control the electric lock on the door. The person at the computer can trigger the remote relay and open the door. Please note that these intercoms are not consumer doorbell intercoms such as the Ring or DoorBird. They are designed for commercial applications and are more secure than home systems.

The IP intercoms are connected to the local area network and are powered using PoE. The central command console runs intercom software such as Talkmaster.  Optional Focus Video software can be added to allow the operator to use an IP camera to see the door.

Application: In an office, the intercom controls the entry of a delivery person. The door can be opened only after the delivery person talks to the inside security person.

Video Intercoms and Smartphone Communication

One Intercom to Many Connections

IP Intercoms with Mobile Devices
IP Intercoms with Mobile Devices

Video Intercoms include a built-in IP camera and provide additional capability. Besides communicating to a central computer, they can communicate with smartphones, making it easy to answer a door or talk to another person in your organization. Some models include door control RFID readers so a person with a credential can open the door. A visitor can be allowed in after talking to a person inside the organization.

The video intercoms connect to a central control station, or they can communicate to a mobile device. The video provides the added security level that allows the person to answer the call and see who is at the door.  They can be used as a simple door access control system or integrated with an existing access control system.

These systems use a cloud service that communicates to an app on the smartphone. In this case, many different people can answer the door intercoms.

Application: In an office, several people can answer the door control. In a warehouse, registered employees can use their credentials to enter, but the delivery person uses the intercom to call the central control center to enter the facility. The intercoms include door release outputs that allow the person answering to release the door manually.

IP Intercoms with Video for Apartments

Apartment Intercoms to Many Smartphones

IP intercoms with touch screens are used to contact tenants in a building. The system communicates to smartphones, so no wiring is required. 

Apartment Intercoms Concept
Apartment Intercoms Concept

The IP apartment intercom is wireless so it is excellent for new or replacement installations. It connects to the tenant’s smartphones for completely wireless communication. The tenant can see and speak to the person at the door. Since the system uses cellphone data, it can control the door from anywhere in the world. It also has the capability of using POTs (Plain Old Telephones).

Application: The IP apartment intercoms replace the old analog systems. They provide increased capability and are easily installed because they don’t require wiring to each apartment.

IP Video Intercoms that Integrate with IP Camera Systems

Intercom Integration

By integrating IP intercoms with IP camera systems, we add additional security. Video intercoms allow you to see the person at the door, but what if you need to see the surrounding area. Using an IP Camera System allows the security person to see everything in the area (situational awareness) or even track the visitor through the organization.

There are several ways to add video to an intercom system, you can use an intercom that includes the built-in camera, you can add an external IP camera to the audio intercom system, or you can use a complete IP camera system to watch the doors and the rest of the organization.

Application: IP cameras allow you to see the person you are talking to and the area around the door. Situational awareness improves safety and security.

IP Intercom Summary

The latest IP intercoms are easy to install because they use your network infrastructure. They provide features that improve the security of the organization. Some intercoms are attached to a command center, and other intercoms communicate to many smartphone apps.  Some intercoms control visitors and include RFID door readers so that registered people can enter. To learn more about Intercoms, please read, How Network Attached Amplifiers and IP Intercoms Work. You can also learn about the integration of intercoms and door access control systems by reading Access Control Enhanced With Intercoms.

For help selecting the right intercom for your application, please contact us at 800-431-1658 in the USA, 914-944-3425, everywhere else, or use our contact form.