How to choose the right IP intercom for your project
Marek Chládek, 06. 01. 2023 | 6 min read
It’s not hard to choose the right IP intercom – provided you fully understand what you need. Take a look at the 8 questions you should be asking yourself to ensure you purchase the perfect intercom for your project.
1. Am I installing the intercom inside or outside?
When IP intercoms are installed outside there is, of course, a greater need for durability. They must be water and dust-resistant, but they also need to be able to withstand potential vandalization.
Straightforward and easy to use is an IP durability scale that tells you the water and dust resistance of products. For most outside installations, IP54 is sufficient for intercoms. When it comes to extreme conditions make sure you choose an intercom with the best rating - IP69K, which is nearly waterproof. Considering a display intercom? You should also think about sunlight – it may cause trouble with readability. Ask the vendor about the display brightness in such projects.
Installing the intercom in an area where crime is likely? Even if you’re not, an intercom should have sufficient impact protection to protect it from vandals and other risks. The durability scale to help you here is called ‘IK’ - and a rating of IK7 is usually sufficient, but IK8 is the safer bet. You might be surprised to know that even glass touchscreen intercoms can hit the IK8 durability!
Important notice: Make sure that IP and IK standards are officially certified and not just stated on the manufacturer’s website.
2. Where exactly do I want to install the intercom?
Do you want to install the intercom on a surface, within a wall, on glass or mounted on a gooseneck stand? Some intercoms have only one possible installation method, others have several. Often, however, the installation accessories you need for installation (e.g. installation boxes) vary. The same can be true for frames. This can therefore be important in taking decisions and drawing up the quote.
3. Do I need video?
Audio intercoms are, of course, the cheaper option, but video intercoms have become standard in modern access control solutions. It’s primarily because of the security benefits of being able to see the face of the person at the door and anyone else with them.
Safety features like motion detection are also associated with video and, as a rule, you can watch the video stream from the intercom at any time, effectively acting as a form of video surveillance. You can even include the intercom video in the VMS and thus potentially save money on a camera at the entrance.
You might ask yourself another question: How good should the camera be? Because simply put, the better the camera, the higher the security. We recommend at least a full-HD wide-angle camera and Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) support. This ensures full image quality, even in darkness or uneven lighting conditions outside, which has a significant security benefit.
4. How many independent destinations do I want to call from the intercom?
This, of course, determines how many buttons the intercom needs to have. In more complex office buildings or very larger apartment buildings, touchscreen intercoms are an easier and more elegant solution as they can offer a tree-structure phone book which allows visitors to search for hundreds (or even thousands) of people or departments – even when it’s pitch-black outside.
5. Do I need any access control method (and which type)?
Even though the intercom’s first purpose was mainly communication, it’s not the only purpose anymore. There are IP intercoms that can have one or even more access control methods inbuilt. So which one should you choose? Some users prefer RFID cards, some PIN codes; others like the option of having credentials stored on their mobile phones. More and more, though, tenants in buildings want flexibility – both to mix-and-match different credential types (maybe offering mobile access for younger users, RFID for those who prefer traditional cards, PIN as a backup option and QR codes for couriers or cleaning staff), and the option to change their minds in the future.
6. Do I need premium functions?
Today's modern IP intercoms can do incredible things: mobile phone access, intercom to mobile calling, sound and motion detection, ‘lights on’ mode, audio playback and even bi-directional video calling to make every visitor welcome and access more inclusive by allowing hearing-impaired visitors to communicate through the intercom via sign language.
But most importantly, these intercoms offer integration with other systems (VMS, home & building automation, PBX, access control, property management and more). Integration requires technologies that work well together, which means avoiding closed systems that can’t be interconnected with different brands. Instead, prioritise devices which are based on open standards or with an open API, as they can easily be integrated with third-party technology.
7. Do I need a reliable and secure product?
The answer to this should always be yes! Having a reliable product that you don’t need to repair or even worse – replace - pays off. It’s hassle-free, and in the long term less expensive and more environmentally friendly.
But of course, this means a higher initial purchase cost. High-quality materials, extensive testing and the assurance of high-level cybersecurity are costly and will be reflected in the final price of the intercom. The best companies even upgrade product firmware constantly to reflect customer needs, add new features and respond to new cyber threats.
However, as mentioned before, this higher cost comes with a better product – so it’s up to you to do the maths and work out what you need.
8. What is the ‘look and feel’ of the project?
The intercom should fit seamlessly into your project – in terms of design as well as technology – and many modern intercoms are beautiful devices that add real aesthetic value to a front entrance. This aspect shouldn’t be underestimated. The intercom is the first thing a visitor sees and, as we all know, first impressions count.
See! If you go through this checklist and have the answers to these eight questions, choosing the right intercom will be a straightforward exercise.