Smart device with a crisp 10.1 inch screen. Wears 13MP camera, high-quality speakers, and a microphone. Includes Alexa voice, streaming media, and various home security functions.
Expensive. User interface will be complicated for those who just want an intercom. Requires Wi-Fi.
Both wireless intercoms come with long range of 1-1.5 miles. Low-profile design takes up less space. Does not require Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. USB-powered, making them usable just about anywhere.
Some users noted the microphones weren't sensitive enough.
This wireless intercom system boasts an impressive 1-mile range and 22 channels. Ideal for businesses and multi-level homes. Stations have digital code displays and deliver clear voice quality.
Although rare, some systems have arrived with at least 1 faulty station. Interference doesn't occur often but is possible.
An affordable 2-station system that offers 1/2-mile range and 10 channels. Wireless, so they are easy to set up and use. Sound quality is decent considering the low price.
Power cord fits somewhat loosely, putting it at risk of coming disconnected. Plastic construction of the stations feels flimsy.
Wireless, so the components of this system are ready to use right out of the box. Delivers a range of up to half mile and operates on 7 channels. Choice of 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 stations.
Mixed opinions on the clarity of the sound quality. Talk button can be quirky, as it occasionally sticks. Some faulty units noted.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
An intercom system is a stand-alone communication system for use within a building or small collection of buildings. It’s usually a two-way electronic device that transmits and receives audio and/or video. Intercoms allow people to speak into a microphone and be heard on a speaker by others in a different room or area.
Intercom systems are a must-have for any individual or organization interested in developing efficient and reliable two-way communication throughout a building or group of buildings. They can be used as an initial form of contact with visitors to secure locations or to simply improve communication throughout a facility by delivering important messages over integrated speakers. An intercom system can be combined with door access to limit or allow entry, which is especially useful in apartment buildings, and many intercoms come equipped with video features to deter crime and increase security.
Our guide has everything you need to know when shopping for intercom systems, including our five favorite products, which you can find in the matrix above.
When shopping for an intercom system, you’ll need to understand the system’s various components and how they function. Knowledge of the basic parts will guide you in your search and eliminate unnecessary confusion so you can choose the right system for your space.
The master station, or base station, contains the main circuitry for all of the communications features and controls the entire system. On a master station, you will find the door release button, video feed, talk button, and volume control.
The substation is typically located at the point where communication is initiated, like entrances to buildings. Simple substations usually include just a speaker, microphone, and call button. Some more advanced systems have cameras. These units are able to initiate calls with a master station but are generally not capable of making calls with any other stations.
Wired intercom systems require low-voltage wiring to connect the master stations and substations. Wired systems tend to be more reliable and secure, and they’re typically lower maintenance than wireless systems. They are designed to eliminate undesirable interference from neighboring systems or other communication devices. This is the primary reason why wired intercom systems are generally preferred in both apartment and office buildings.
Wireless intercom systems utilize radio signals to communicate between stations and don’t require any type of wiring. They are quick to install and effective in facilities where wires are difficult to install or run. This makes wireless intercom systems ideal for residential homes and smaller commercial businesses.
Video intercom systems include a substation that typically has a camera, speaker, and a button that controls door or gate access. The master unit of video intercom systems includes a video monitor that can communicate with the substation. The video-monitoring features of these systems offer an added level of security, making them popular in both residential and commercial buildings.
Handset stations use a corded handset much like those found on classic telephones. These types of intercom stations work especially well in noisy environments because users can hold the speaker directly to their ear. This also provides an extra degree of privacy. The major disadvantage of corded intercom stations is that they are not as convenient to use as hands-free stations. They are also more prone to wear and tear if used regularly by a lot of people.
Hands-free stations are much more convenient and less prone to damage than handset stations. They utilize a speaker and microphone that’s built into the unit, which offers much more freedom for the user. However, hands-free stations can be difficult to use in busy or noisy environments and offer little privacy.
Hybrid stations combine handset privacy with hands-free functionality. These stations feature a speaker/microphone along with a handset. Hybrid stations work as a hands-free unit until the handset is picked up.
Reliable intercom systems can be found for about $50 to $100. Many of these systems are wireless and provide only basic intercom functionality. Though it’s unlikely you’ll find any video features in this price range, these low-cost systems are great for homes and small offices.
Consumers looking for a bit more reliability will need to look in the mid-level price range. These intercom systems cost anywhere from $100 to $200. The wireless systems in this range have features that ensure stronger connections, and they work over greater distances.
The most advanced intercom systems cost $200 or more. If you’re looking for a reliable wired intercom system with additional features like door controls, this is the price range where you’ll need to look. Wireless intercom systems in this range typically provide video monitoring as well.
Set a budget. It’s always a good idea before shopping for a pricier product like an intercom system to set your budget. The type, make, brand, and features will largely depend on how much you are willing to spend.
Determine the wireless range you need. Think about where you want to set up your master station and how far away your substations will be. Wireless intercom systems have varying ranges, with some reaching beyond 1,000 feet.
Q. My intercom system is pretty old. Is it possible to just replace the master unit and keep the substations?
A. It’s best to update your intercom system completely. The main reason is that intercom technology has changed considerably over the years. Older substations may not function with the more advanced technology of today’s master units.
Q. Will a wireless intercom system interfere with my wireless computer network?
A. Home WiFi networks operate over the 2.4 GHz range. As long as your wireless intercom system operates on a different frequency, it won’t interfere.
Q. Do I need to hire an electrician to install my intercom system?
A. While installing wired systems may require some minimal electrical work, most wireless intercom systems can be installed fairly easily. Though good systems come with detailed instructions, hiring a professional is always a good idea if you have any reservations about installing the intercom system yourself.