June 01, 2010
| by Lisa Montgomery
Intercom systems have been used in homes for years. But today’s variety can weave in other technologies to make them an even handier device to have around.
A popular choice today is a front-door intercom that can tie into a home’s telephone system. The concept is straightforward: A visitor hits the call button on the intercom and the phones ring, but in a distinctive tone so that you can discern it from an ordinary incoming telephone call. You can speak with the guest through the phone handset or the built-in mic on the base station.
The phones themselves can function like intercoms, too. You can place private intercom calls to another phone station within your house or page every station at once.
A phone system is just one of many other technologies that can be integrated with a front-door intercom station.
Some stations come with or offer the ability to build in a surveillance camera. In addition to hearing your guest, you’ll be able to access the camera to view an image on the screen of a TV or computer. After determining who the visitor is, you can, with the addition of an electronic doorstrike, unlock the door by pushing a button on the telephone.
A whole-house music system is another tie-in to consider. This will allow the sound of the doorbell or an alert for your intercom to be broadcast through every loudspeaker of your music system. You’ll be able to pick out interesting chimes, like your college fight song or a special tune for the holidays. And if you happen to be playing music or watching a movie when the intercom button is pressed, the audio can mute temporarily so you can hear the chime.
Last but not least, there’s the handheld remote. You can find intercom systems now (check out the P-0930, pictured below, from Channel Vision), that can be controlled via a handheld remote. If you’re relaxing on the couch when an intercom call comes in, for example, you can use the remote to activate the nearest microphone equipped telephone station to speak with the visitor.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.