This guide will walk you through step-by-step considerations when buying an office intercom system, flush out key features and review the best intercom system brands on the market so you can pick the right system for your office.
What Is An Intercom System?
The complex definition: Intercom systems are two-way communication electronic devices that contain circuitry for the purpose of transmitting and receiving audio and/or video transmissions.
The basic definition: An intercom system is a way to communicate with someone in another office or location using voice or video calls.
Now, let’s get to the important part and figure out which intercom system is the best one for you.
Intercom System: Key Considerations for Offices and Businesses
Intercom systems help solve a lot of issues around safety, security, productivity, access control, and visitor management for offices of every kind. But there are a lot of features, functions, and considerations to consider before deciding which intercom system is the right solution. Do you need access control built-in to your video intercom system? Is face recognition a priority? Is visitor management important? The following checklist details what questions you should be thinking about before buying an intercom system.
Wired vs. Wireless Intercom System
Wired intercom systems typically have less issues with connectivity as they have a direct Ethernet connection.
Wireless intercom systems do not require invasive installation however outside interference and environmental factors make for less reliable connectivity.
The simplest solution is to just buy a battery powered doorbell, however it’s operationally very cumbersome, since you have to walk to the door everytime it buzzes, which is a huge pain point.
If you want to be able to perform audio calls to visitors, then you need to make sure your intercom has an audio component that allows for two-way calling.
A video intercom component is necessary if you want to be able to visually verify who is at the front door and perform two-way video calls.
Video intercom systems can offer one-way or two-way video capabilities that allow for secure visual verification of all visitors and anyone requesting access at the front door.
Access Control Integration
The best intercom systems integrate seamlessly with access control by utilizing face recognition and mobile app unlock. This comprehensive solution enables modern access that securely authorizes visitors, tenants, and employees.
Depending on where you’re located and if inclimate weather is a reality, ensuring weatherproofing is a must if you want to install an intercom station outdoors.
The number of channels you need will depend upon the number of locations or offices you need to connect
Automatic Door Unlock
Automatic door unlock capabilities allow remote unlock from anywhere and can be extremely useful for managing visitors, vendors, janitorial services, and more without needing face-to-face interactions.
Remote Visitor Management
Remote functionality will allow you to pick up calls and grant access from anywhere using just a mobile phone, browser, or desktop cloud-based dashboard.
Do you need to be able to assign multiple admins and easily update administrator permissions? Cloud-based video intercom systems will allow for easy, streamlined admin controls and permissions.
It’s important to identify budgets up front because intercom systems and the corresponding hardware can range from affordable to expensive — and expensive doesn’t always mean better. Some intercom systems will require upfront costs to buy hardware, and other options will allow leasing for a determined and agreed upon contract.
Best Office Intercom Systems
Below are the best office intercom system brands on the market, their key features, advantages, disadvantages, and more.
Swiftlane Office Intercom System
Swiftlane’s touchless access control products provide innovative security and access control solutions, including integrated video intercom systems.
Swiftlane pricing starts at $1,250
Swiftlane’s hardwired IP intercom system is an integral part of its latest office automation suite that includes:
- Two-way video intercom calling
- 7MP high resolution camera
- 1080p adaptive high resolution
- Audio only call option
- Video only call option
- Comes with door controllers with door unlock for up to 4 doors, including vestibule style entrances
- Unlock doors from anywhere using the app
- Facial recognition access built with strong privacy controls and SOC II certification
- Slick design and hardware with a built in touch screen
- Reliable Ethernet based connectivity
- Unlike most products that work only inside a building, pick up calls from anywhere, using the Swiftlane app
- Receptionists can receive calls through the web browser interface
- Setup multiple admins for picking up calls, in case one person in busy
- Includes access for users via Face Unlock and Mobile App
- HD PoE and IP Video Intercom
- Integration with visitor management systems like Envoy to provide link based access
- Cloud-based system and dashboard
- Monitor the front door, make announcements, and connect via mobile phones.
- Provides automatic or remote touchless unlock for individual doors.
- Works with other cloud based management and security apps such as OKTA, Azure AD, Envoy VMS, G Suite, and more
- A comprehensive video intercom system
- Built-in mobile and face recognition access control
- Touchless entry solutions for a post-COVID world
- Easily scaled from a standalone video doorbell to a multi-tenant, multi-site enterprise video intercom system
- Entry photo logs are automatically and securely stored in the cloud
- Saves money by eliminating the need to buy access control separately
- Ethernet provides better quality and security, but you’ll need to lay down cables if your facility doesn’t have Ethernet networking installed. Luckily, most offices and multi-tenant buildings already have ethernet wires since it’s the most common format of wiring in buildings.
- More expensive than single doorbells like Nest or Ring, that do not have built in wired support for unlocking doors.
Swiftlane’s system’s interoperability as video intercom, face recognition, mobile and legacy access control makes it a great choice for residential and commercial buildings as well as offices of all shapes and sizes. Swiftlane is well-suited for enterprises and small and medium businesses that want more security, flexibility, and future readiness from their office intercom systems.
The face recognition feature is optional. The video intercom works as a standalone system, thanks to its wired architecture. Even micro businesses can use it as a video doorbell and remote unlock system. Strong privacy controls built for data, with SOC II certification, secure transfer and storage of data.
Aiphone is one of the most respected brands of security communication systems. They have an extensive range of intercoms and related products. The product lineup includes peer-to-peer IP intercoms, hardwired intercoms with IP capability, multi-tenant intercoms, app capable video intercoms, emergency intercoms, intercom doorbells, and more.
Aiphone Intercom Series Overview
IX Series (Peer-to-Peer Intercom): With a capacity of 5000+ door stations and 5000+ master stations, the IX Series is a simple, network-based intercom calling system through SIP.
IXG Series (Multi-Tenant Video Intercom): With a system capacity of 9999 devices including physical stations, gateways, and lift control adaptors, the IXG Series is a scalable visitor management solution that allows visitors to call building tenants from a directory. Tenants can receive calls from in-unit stations, or now via mobile device.
JP Series (Touchscreen Intercom): A simple, touchscreen video intercom for room to room communication.
JO Series (Video Intercom with Mobile App Capability): This video doorbell supports 2 door, 2 monitors, and 8 mobile devices for two-way audio and one-way video communication between hardwired stations. Tenants can also receive calls from their mobile device.
GT Series (Multi-Tenant Security Intercom): Finally, the GT Series is compatible for additional security purposes. The GT Series can include up to 5 entrance stations, 2 video guard stations, and 48 tenant stations. Guard stations can connect multiple sites, monitor the built-in PTZ cameras, and forward incoming visitor calls to tenant stations.
- Series models cater to different industry needs with specific user features, creating a solution for any need
- Reliable hardware and connectivity
- Hardwired in-unit stations make visitor accessibility easier than ever
- Only the IXG, IX and JO Series are cloud based and offer a mobile app for management
- Most Aiphone models are network-based, local systems that can only be managed from inside the building
- Need for on-site monitoring and maintenance
- Lack of two-way video calling depletes visitor experience at the door
- Visitor engagement prior to the time of visit, such as pre-registration, one-time access pin code, and health screenings are not available.
Aiphone intercoms offer solutions for virtually any need or industry. Their systems are reliable and do not require add-ons to perform their functions. While standard in functionality, it would, however, be hard for Aiphone to generate an engaging and hospitable visitor experience with the lack of engagement at the door or prior to the time of visit.
Read the full Aiphone Intercom Review for more information on which office intercom system is best for you.
2N Telekomunikace is a European manufacturer headquartered in Prague. The company has a sound global reputation for building tough and resilient analog, IP and LTE intercom systems, access control systems, elevator systems, and telecommunications products.
2N has a wide range of models and the price will vary depending on the components you select. The main unit of 2N IP Verso with camera is available with 2N dealers for a price of $995. You still need to buy the keypad module (~$696), Bluetooth (~$440), RFID (~$582) and other modules that your facility requires.
2N Intercom Features
- The Company has introduced modular intercom systems, which allow users to build the perfect intercom for their needs by selecting from 14 different modules.
- Top of the line 2N IP Verso has a touchscreen keypad, address book, fingerprint reader, and Bluetooth
- SIP support available.
- Ethernet port built in.
- Entry methods include RFID, Bluetooth, touchpad, and fingerprint reader.
- 2N devices can be bulk-managed through the 2N Access Commander. It’s a browser interface that allows:
- Access control configuration
- Device management and monitoring
- Multiple site control
- Time and attendance management
- Visitor card management, and more
- Can retrofit with legacy systems such as RFID card readers and fingerprint scanners
- Work perfectly with the modern smartphone access control system
- Built-in night vision camera
- Free onsite configuration support
- Easy to install and start using. No need for a local network or cables
- Centralized multi device management through a web interface
- Video resolution is 640×480
- No facial recognition feature
- No mobile proximity unlock. Users needs to touch the Bluetooth reader with their elbow for a hands-free unlock
- The voice and video quality of IP intercom can be affected by electromagnetic or RF interference
- No COVID safety features are available.
- Touchscreen, fingerprint and keypad entry may be considered unsafe after COVID-19
2N has a wide range of models and is suitable for most commercial buildings. The modular design gives the system a lot of flexibility. But the users need to select and assemble the modules they need.
Read the full 2N Intercom Review for more information on which office intercom system is best for you.
DoorKing Intercom System
DKS DoorKing, also known simply as DoorKing, is one of the oldest American providers of access control systems and tele entry systems. The most popular product is their tele entry system that allows visitors to speak to any of the residents using regular telephone lines. DoorKing offers many different models with varying features which we will go into detail below.
DoorKing Access Plus Telephone Entry System 1800 Series
DoorKing Access Plus is a PC programmable telephone entry system that provides simple voice communication from the entry point. All DoorKing Access Plus models support LTE, VoIP, and POTL connectivity, and are easily customized.
DoorKing Access Plus Key Features
- Highly customizable to schedules and time zones
- Wiegand device integration
- Email notifications
- Door unlock functionality from PC
- Supports up to 100 access tokens
- Event history storage
- Distributes temporary access codes
DoorKing 1802 Access Plus: Base-line features listed above.
DoorKing 1808 Access Plus: Built-in directory for up to 12 names. Residents have unlock functionality of up to two doors or gates via touch-tone telephone. This model includes access control readers.
DoorKing 1810 Access Plus: Built-in directory for 27 names. Residents have unlock functionality of up to two doors or gates via touch-tone telephone. This model includes access control readers.
DoorKing 1812 Access Plus: Although this model does not have a built-in directory, it is IP addressable. It comes with 6 access control readers and 100 access tokens. Feature upgrades include call waiting and forwarding, plus a do-not-disturb function. This model is also camera-ready.
DoorKing Access Plus Pricing
Model AP 1802: Available on Amazon for $1,317 per station
Model AP 1808: ~ $975
Model AP 1810: Starts at $1936
Model AP 1812: Starts at $1717
- The Access Plus Account Manager is free to download
- Mounting hardware, add-ons and accessories cost extra (around $1,000 to $2,000 depending upon what you choose)
- Easy but basic PC programmability
- Integration with electronic door locks and Wiegand readers
- Can be used as “No phone line” intercom (DKS 1816 AP required)
- Slim design for limited space applications
- Video intercom capability is limited to the 1812 AP model, which is only “camera ready” as opposed to coming with a built-in intercom.
- No directory, or limited paper directory, is inconvenient for infrequent or one-time visitors
- No programming display on the set
- Keypads are no longer a health-conscious solution for access control
- Key cards need to continue to be tracked, programmed and replaced
DoorKing Telephone Entry System 1800 Series
The DoorKing Telephone Entry System models are basic tele entry systems being widely used in traditional small and midsize establishments. Visitors are identified by two-way voice communication and access can be granted from a touch-tone telephone after programming with two special inputs.
DoorKing Telephone Entry System Key Features
- Stores up to 600 telephone numbers
- Up to 1,000 4-digit entry codes and six 5-digit entry codes
- Door unlock functionality is available by programming two special inputs
- Programming display (with the exception of Model 1808, which does not have a display)
DoorKing 1802: The DoorKing 1802 EPD has an electronic directory that can store up to 100 names and numbers. The station has built-in A-Z scroll buttons and a calling button.
DoorKing 1803: Base-line features listed above.
DoorKing 1808: Smaller, more compact hardware style with the option for built-in directory. This model does not have a display screen.
DoorKing 1810: Includes a built-in, printable lighted directory and an LCD display window.
DoorKing Telephone Entry System Pricing
Model 1802 EPD: ~$763 per set
Model 1803: ~$893 per station
Model 1808: ~$834
Model 1810: ~$1480
- Simple and sturdy intercom system
- Installs on existing phone lines
- Easy to program and maintain
- Various methods of directory display
- No video intercom functionality
- Requires inputs for unlock functionality
- Keypads are no longer a health-conscious solution for access control
DoorKing Telephone Entry and Access Control 1830 Series
DoorKing Telephone Entry and Access Control 1830 Series are PC programmable turn-key access management models that can store up to 3,000 phone numbers, and 8,000 access tokens.
DoorKing Telephone Entry and Access Control Key Features
- PC programmable
- Includes Remote Account Manager and Transaction Analysis software
- Display directory with one-touch “Call” button (with the exception of Model 1833)
- Customizable directory codes
- Ability to view and capture live streaming and transactions
- Interface with up to 48 wired and/or wireless card readers (with the exception of Model 1834)
- Database import and export capabilities
- Elevator control capability (with the exception of Model 1834)
DoorKing Model 1833: Base-line features listed above.
DoorKing Model 1834: Access control capability for 2 entry points.
DoorKing Model 1835: Base-line features listed above.
DoorKing Model 1837: Hardware sports a large display screen with the capability to see multiple tenants at once.
DoorKing Series 1830 Pricing
Model 1833: ~$1731 per station
Model 1834: ~$2694 per station
Model 1835: ~$3951 per station
Model 1837: ~$5803 per station
- Extensive storage capacity
- Extensive features for audit and tracking capacity
- Interface with elevators
- Integration with wired and wireless access devices
- The 1830 Series requires different add-ons, subscriptions and hardware for each cellular, VoIP, and POTS connection
- Audio-only communication
- Keypads are no longer a health-conscious solution for access control
- Model 1833 has no display screen or instruction, which is not intuitive for first-time or infrequent visitors
DKS DoorKing intercom has been the leader in tele entry systems, but the company is facing increased competition from new IP and PoE based wireless video intercom systems like ButterflyMX. DoorKing intercom is best suited for large corporations that already have a telephone line system and that do not have an extensive need for a robust office intercom system.
Read the full DoorKing Intercom Review for more information on which office intercom system is best for you.
DoorBird Intercom is a German-built video doorbell system. DoorBird Video Intercom is a high-end doorbell intercom system that easily connects with access devices like electronic doors and gate controls. DoorBird is unique in that it replaces a traditional doorbell with an IP-based system.
Depending on the products you choose, a single Doorbird Door Station will cost between $384 for a simple home IP doorbell and $2,502 for an IP video door station for multi tenant buildings.
The indoor station costs $505.
There are no charges for the automatic cloud storage of entry photo logs for the 50 most recent motion sensor events. An annual subscription of $53+ has 7-day HD storage, if required.
- Simple installation: built-in connectors for traditional door chime, Ethernet, electric door strike, and door opener button
- Remote unlock function through DoorBird mobile app
- Sends photo records of visitors to the cloud where they can be accessed through the DoorBird app
- 4D motion sensor and infrared Night-Vision
- Each video doorbell can connect with up to 8 iOS or Android phones or tablets
- Works on eight devices simultaneously
- Ultra sharp, 180-210 degree ultra wide angle HD image, straightened and without black fish eye edges
- Aesthetically designed, durable, and high-quality video doorbell
- Open API and extensive integration options including NVR, VMS, NAS, RFID, and a range of smart locks and smart home systems
- Door relays included in the intercom, such as DoorBird, pose a security risk*
- Limited access control functionalities
- No built-in SIP or PBX connectivity, can only send push notifications to non-IP phones
- Camera lens should be at a minimum height of 57 inches, compared to the ADA compliance height of maximum 48 inches
*Door relays that are programmed into the intercom can be removed from their mount to connect the relays, which would trigger an unauthorized door unlock. Typically, more intercom devices avoid this by having a separate device on the secure side of the building that triggers door unlock.
DoorBird is an innovative and convenient video doorbell designed for small to medium sized operations. It has a compact and sleek design with simple installation. However, as an access control system, DoorBird does not offer a comprehensive solution and should undergo close consideration for implementation when access management and security are a factor in implementation.
Read the full DoorBird Intercom Review for more information on which office intercom system is best for you.
Latch Smart Lock
Latch is a U.S. based innovator that started with locks and has evolved into a video intercom and access control system. It is positioned as a complete building system and contains hardware, software and services to make buildings better for everyone.
Latch Intercom Pricing
The visitor entry intercom is priced at $2,999, and you need to buy an external camera for video. Latch charges $2 monthly per unit as software fee. Pricing may vary by number of units and contract length.
Latch Intercom Features
- Latch intercom system connects via Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or LTE
- Residents can choose how their name is displayed on screen and whether or not to share their video and photo
- Invisible keypad lights up only when touched
- Visitors can scroll through the list of occupants and connect via tactile buttons
- Doors can be unlocked by a key, a passcode, or remotely through a smartphone
- The system allows for temporary codes for guests, delivery people and cleaning crews.
- Beautiful door lock that even has a keyhole if you want to enter the old fashioned way
- Each smart door lock comes with a built-in camera for image capturing during entry
- Optional property management features including Ecobee climate control, Leviton smart light switches, and Sonos sound based access
- Integrated intercom, access control, and building management system
- Receive audio calls at any U.S. phone number
- Eliminates the need for buying additional hardware and software
- Restrict video streaming and choose custom display names
- Allow and share access for cleanings, laundry, and chores directly through the Latch App
- Multiple entry methods including mobile app, NFC, passcodes, and the good old metallic key
- Comes with optional energy saving tools, visitor access, deliveries, and sound-based access
- Built-in camera with every door, and entry photos are synced to the cloud
- Innovative door lock design
- Door lock relay built into the intercom. This poses a security risk should the intercom device be removed and reconnected as it will unlock the door.
- External camera required for video calling
- Does not mention support for key card system
- No health check or remote screening tools available for compliance with CDC/OSHA COVID safety guidelines
- The intercom page does not mention support for PIN based unlock. It’s unclear whether one-time use pins for delivery can be granted ahead of time
- The website does not mention if multiple admins can be assigned for a unit or commercial tenant
- The intercom is a part of the Latch full-building solution, which requires a two-year service contract
- Face recognition is not available
- Powering using PoE would require POE+ with 55W+ power. Just POE enabled switches do not support that much power from a single output, so you would need to make sure you use a POE Switch that supports 55W on a single port
Latch is a great system for small and large buildings, particularly residential. Latch intercom integrates with Latch front door devices and software, so users need to buy the complete system to use the intercom for access control.
ButterflyMX, founded in 2014, is known for their smartphone property access initiative. The ButterflyMX Intercom comes in a 7” or 11.6” surface touchscreen with options for wall or pedestal mounts. Although dimensions vary, the Smart Intercom features are the same.
7” Surface Intercom: $3650, with 2 year warranty
7” Recessed Intercom: $4150, with 2 year warranty
11.6” Surface Intercom: $5650, with 2 year warranty
11.6” Recessed Intercom: $6150, with 2 year warranty
ButterflyMX software is priced based on the number of units, starting at $750/yr for residential. Commercial pricing is based on the number of employees and starts at $2400/yr, based on pricing available in September 2020.
Key Features For Property Managers
- Ability to see door release event history for up to 365 days
- Manage tenant and visitor permissions
- Integration with property management software (PMS)
Key Features For Tenants
- Remote unlock feature for tenants or guests through smartphone
- Visitors can be sent virtual keys for managed access
- Two-way video intercom calling
- 6-digit access pin available if keys or phone are left behind
- Elevator controls through mobile app
- Alexa- or Siri-enabled voice controls
- Requires a separate access control system to manage access to tenants
- Visitor calls come in from the app, as opposed to through the smartphone
- No ability to set up multiple front desk callers
- Does not support temporary pin access for quests
ButterflyMX provides modern, intuitive solutions for a visitor management system. ButterflyMX Smart Intercom eliminates the need to wire intercom calling stations to individual units and creates a truly flexible way for tenants and building managers to take control of their visitors. Their Smart Intercom, however, lacks proprietary access control functionality, so cost should be carefully considered in contrast with value of offering before implementation.
Read the full ButterflyMX Intercom Review for more information on which office intercom system is best for you.
Increase Safety and Security with Office Intercom Systems
Employee safety and security is the most important reason to integrate an office intercom system into the workplace. Now, modern solutions are making it even easier to do just that.
But, what if you have an old or outdated intercom? What replaces old intercom systems?
Modern intercom systems that operate from the cloud can easily replace outdated systems and are quick to install and deploy (especially if the system allows the users to use mobile credentials instead of key cards) so there is no gap in security. The cloud also offers better visibility with real-time data and reporting on top of additional layers of security and advanced functionality that wasn’t available before.
Here’s how offices and workplaces are using modern intercom systems.
1. Quick Interoffice Communications
Interoffice communication (or intercom) systems are the best way to make announcements or send notifications to anyone in the office instantly.
2. Make General or Emergency Announcements
Intercom systems can be joined with public address systems to send out informational or emergency announcements, such as at airports or healthcare facilities.
3. Ramp Up Security and Surveillance
Video intercom systems that come with speakers and microphones can be used to complement video surveillance systems at certain facilities. The security team can make a cautionary announcement after observing a person entering a prohibited area, such as a section of the building that has been closed because of fire or infection risk.
4. Mobile Communication
High-end intercom systems can integrate with iOS and Android devices and allow the caller to speak to a person even when they’re not in the office.
5. Controlled Access Points
Intercom systems provide a simple but reliable form of remote access control when you don’t want to issue key cards to employees or tenants. A person can remotely unlock the door from inside the building or from anywhere if an Ethernet based or wireless IP video intercom is being used, after speaking to the visitor or after visual verification.
6. Grant Access for Janitorial or Deliveries
Cleaning services or deliveries may arrive at odd hours. IP intercoms allow security teams to unlock doors remotely from anywhere and allow entry without having to come to office. Modern cloud-based facial recognition video intercom and bluetooth access control systems can be programmed to allow automatic scheduled access to visitors.
7. Integration With Electronic Locks
Sometimes the intercom is integrated with a keypad that automatically unlocks the door after an authorized person enters their personal identification number or PIN. However, use of common touch surfaces including office entry keypads should be avoided in post-COVID-19 workplaces.
8. Integration With Touchless Access Control
Touchless access control systems come with video intercom systems built in and can provide a safer way to enter offices. The door automatically unlocks to grant access when the face credentials of a visitor match authorized credentials. When the user is not registered on the face recognition database, they can simply speak to the front desk via video intercom and can be allowed to enter the office.
Still have questions?
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