Installing an intercom system for an apartment building may be a new building or system, or a project to either upgrade apartment intercoms or replace apartment intercoms. Whatever the project, the system must be easy to install, maintain, and update, and it must provide affordable through-life costs, as well as low initial purchase and installation costs. These are some of the important factors to consider when planning an installation for an apartment or condominium intercom system.
Before selecting an apartment intercom system or a condo intercom replacement, it’s essential to check that the system will have the capacity to support the maximum number of units in the building. To ensure optimal security, each unit should be connected to the system, even though the tenants may not wish to use it. Just because the current resident doesn’t want to use the apartment door intercom, doesn’t mean a future resident will feel the same way. The number of apartments also determines the most cost-effective method of connecting each door entrance with substations in the apartment. For example, a small apartment building with 10 units wouldn’t be too difficult or costly to wire, or a wireless apartment intercom system with door release may be a good fit. However, for a large high-rise or community with 30+ units, an IP video intercom for apartment buildings is likely more cost-effective to install.
An apartment intercom with door release requires a door panel fitted to each building entrance, which usually incorporates a doorbell or buzzer. Buildings with multiple apartments will likely experience large numbers of visitors, so the hardware for an IP or Wi-Fi doorbell intercom for a multi-unit apartment building should be designed for reliable operation with minimal maintenance. Multi-unit building doorbell panels or typical apartment door panels can be surface mounted or flush mounted. Flush mounted panels provide a better aesthetic appearance, although they require more work to install. To minimize the risk of damage from rain or dust, the door panel should meet the IP65 standard for waterproofing and weather-proofing. When installing a video intercom system for apartments, keep in mind that video screens and intercom systems can often be targets for vandalism, so access control hardware should also be tamper-resistant.
Apartment intercom substations
A multi-unit intercom system requires a substation in each apartment so that visitors can contact tenants directly. Traditionally, wired apartment intercom systems required a door panel with a speaker and door release button to be installed in each unit. Today, however, tenants can use computers, laptops, tablets, or other types of display technology to handle access requests. However, a simpler and more cost-effective solution is to provide tenants with an app that they can use on smartphones. When used with a residential wireless intercom - whether that’s a wireless intercom system for condo buildings, a wireless intercom system for apartment complex, or a wireless intercom system for multi-unit complexes - smartphone apps give tenants the freedom and convenience to respond to access requests, even if they are away from their building.
For apartment buildings with lobby security or welcome receptionist, the multi-unit intercom system can also be connected to a computer or desk phone with video capabilities to allow community staff to manage visitor access. This is common in high-rise buildings and gated communities where delivery couriers, visitors, and vendors must check-in with security prior to gaining access to the rest of the property.
Power and connectivity
Apartment intercom and lock release systems require power to operate the door release system. This can be provided by connection to the mains system, or by using a more efficient Power-over-Ethernet connection (PoE). The apartment intercom system also requires a method of connecting the door panel with apartment substations. A wired system requires the installation of separate cabling to each apartment, which could prove prohibitive in a building with a large number of units.
A wireless intercom system for apartment buildings eliminates the need for dedicated cabling and is a more cost-effective solution for serving large numbers of units. However, the Wi-Fi system must have the speed, reach, and bandwidth to provide each tenant with a quality service. Because high-quality video uses a lot of bandwidth, an IP multi-tenant intercom may be a better option to ensure a clear, reliable picture across apartment video intercom systems. If the building has an internal network that has access points in each apartment, that network can form the basis of an IP multi tenant intercom.
Infrastructure and software
Apartment intercom systems require an infrastructure to support the system and software to manage and update it. Although infrastructure such as data servers and video recorders can be installed in the building, a cloud-based intercom system for apartment buildings provides greater flexibility, as well as saves space. Hosting software and infrastructure in the cloud means that landlords and property managers can access the system via the Internet without visiting the building, and the maintenance of that hardware is handled by a third party.
One of the challenges of managing apartment building intercom systems is due to a constantly changing roster of residents. Cloud-based apartment intercom system software helps reduce IT burden when new residents move in, thanks to web-based management that updates instantly. This means revoking door release permissions for old tenants is as easy as a click of a button, with no need to roll up a truck and rewire the system.
Property managers recognize the importance of integrating apartment intercoms with other property technology systems so that they can manage them centrally and migrate towards a smart building solution. The apartment intercom access system must therefore be capable of integration with a number of third-party applications, including delivery management, visitor management, and surveillance systems, as well as building environmental systems. Apartment intercom system integrators recommend systems with open standards for a frictionless integration experience. Cloud-based providers often have greater flexibility to integrate with a wider range of systems and platforms compared to legacy systems.
Maintenance and upgrades
The costs of maintenance and upgrades must be included in the calculation of through-life costs for multi-tenant intercom systems. With a cloud hosted system, essential upgrades to deal with emerging security risks can be handled in the cloud without the need for site visits. Selecting robust hardware will help reduce ongoing repair and replacement costs, while regular proactive maintenance helps ensure the system continues to operate reliably. Additionally, look for systems that come with unique features such as alerts against tampering, and real-time hardware status change alerts to ensure all apartment intercom systems are running to their full potential.
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