Condo Intercom Systems – Guide to Upgrading

Tags: condo intercom system | condo intercom | intercom condo | condominium intercom | intercom system for condominium | condo video intercom system | condo door phone | condo building entry systems | condo enterphone systems

You are likely a condo board member or property manager. You might have a wired legacy intercom system, that no longer works, and you are seeking a way to upgrade that without breaking the bank. This article will try to help you in your search for a new intercom system.

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There are two types of legacy intercoms we come across in condo buildings.

Why condos are upgrading to new intercoms

  • Older systems were sold by companies that no longer exist and dont have replacement parts
  • Lack of remote door unlock or ability to let people in when you are not home
  • No way to verify who is at the door, before buzzing them in. No wonder $6B worth of packages are stolen every year
  • Constant maintenance issues for your condo building entry systems
  • Onsite changes that require a property manager to drive onsite and update the system or pay a security company $200 everytime something needs to change
  • Lack of modern access methods to the buildings, like using a video intercom, phone or face unlock for buildings.

Types of legacy condo intercoms

Wired intercom systems

Many condo building entry systems are installed at the time of construction. You may be using an in unit buzzer to let people in. A wired intercom would call a receiver inside the unit and you can press a button to unlock the door.

intercom system for condominium

Telephone line intercom systems

Telephone entry systems like Doorking, Linear and Viking and many others operate by connecting to telephone lines over landline or cellular VOIP. They typically make a phone call to the person and the person can press 9 to unlock the door.

Why it’s futile to try to upgrade to another wired intercom

  • Wired intercoms require re-wiring the whole building again, which is not going to be possible for retrofitting existing buildings
  • Most installers will charge upwards of $15,000 to make changes to existing wired networks and still get a legacy experience. It may not even be possible due to lack of accessibility to those cable runs in existing buildings
  • Most legacy condo building entry systems often have a shared PIN that’s known by everyone and their neighbors and ex-girlfriends
  • Growing resident behavior need newer offerings. E.g. increase in package theft requires being able to see who is at the door before letting them in, otherwise you will continue to see the increase in package theft and break-ins

What about telephone line audio intercoms?

Telephone line intercoms have been widely prevalent and still getting sold in large quantities.

Why were video intercoms not a good choice for condos?

  • Telephone intercoms were cost effective hardware and installation
  • Telephone lines cost $50-$90 / month landline in flat fees
  • Video intercoms were traditionally too expensive, both upfront and with ongoing fees
  • Vandalism was a concern for touch based systems
  • Not everyone in the building had smart phones to use video calling through the app

A few things have changed in the recent years, creating a massive surge is adoption of video intercom systems.

Why are video intercoms popular today in condo buildings

  • condo building entry systems come with modern features that are very useful for residents. E.g. you can remotely unlock the door for people even when you are not home, using the mobile app
  • Video intercom systems provide ability to see the person, verify who they are before remotely buzzing them in
  • Many new buzzer systems have a condo door phone feature, that enables residents to receive a regular telephone call, the old school way, as an option to video calls. This means it can work for people of all preferences
  • Modern video intercom systems like Swiftlane come with convenient access control methods for residents, like mobile unlock, face unlock, voice door unlock and much more
  • Specific video intercom brands now provide very high vandal resistance, on par with the metal boxes from the past
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Swiftlane video intercom
Video Intercom System for Condominium
Swiftlane – modern condo building entry system

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Process for replacing a legacy intercom system to a video intercom

In order to upgrade your wired intercom to a video intercom, here is the process involved:

  • An intercom company would take out the existing intercom unit on your front door
  • They would replace it with a new video based intercom system
  • You would be able to get rid of the existing landline connection if present and save the monthly fee you would be paying for it
  • Smart intercoms are cloud connected, so they can connect the video call through servers, instead of telephone lines. This means no need to swap out or remove the wiring that exists in the building. The existing door buzzer receiving unit in each apartment may stop functioning
  • Residents get invited to download an app, which can receive video calls on the go, and also present options for residents to enroll in modern features like mobile and face unlock for doors.

A note about Internet connection

Video intercoms requires an internet connection in the building common area. Often, that’s not present so it becomes a barrier to upgrading and causes additional costs and expenses. Swiftlane has partnered with major telecom companies to provide cellular based internet, so that you don’t have to get a separate internet connection, saving you a lot of ongoing costs and the effort to deal with expensive internet contracts.

Best Smart Video Intercoms for Condos

You can see our complete blog post comparing the best condo video intercom systems.

The condo video intercom system market is changing rapidly, due to significant improvements in hardware, software and technology in general.

Swiftlane video intercom for condos

In order to learn about the Swiftlane intercom, you can check out these links

Download a PDF overview of Swiftlane’s video intercom for condos

Swiftlane Condo Video Intercom System

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Access a PDF overview of SwiftReader X from Swiftlane. A modern upgrade to apartment and condo building entrances. Get a complete overview of the features of Swiftlane’s Video Intercom solution.