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Maintaining secure and convenient building access is one of your most important responsibilities. And intercoms have been helping property staff do just that for decades. But what if your intercom system is outdated? Consider facilitating better property access experiences by converting old intercom systems entirely.

In this post, we tell you how and when to convert an old intercom system. Then, we go over the signs that tell you that your intercom needs to be converted and how you can switch to a modern system.

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What does converting your old intercom system entail?

Converting your old intercom system means that you’ll swap an old, outdated system for a newer one with fresh hardware and new features. What this process entails is largely based on how much time and money you’re willing to spend on the new product and its installation.

For instance, you may want to make minimal changes, such as just upgrading outward-facing hardware while keeping internal wiring intact. Or, you might go for a complete overhaul and install a new intercom that’s completely wireless.

 

Choosing a new system for converting your old intercom

Now that you understand what converting your old intercom system entails, let’s discuss your next steps. You’re probably wondering what new system you should replace your old intercom with.

Well, you’re in luck: In today’s access control market, you have a lot of options.

Here are the top three modern intercom systems to choose from:

  1. Refreshed wired intercom
  2. Wireless intercom
  3. Mobile access control system

 

fragile wiring convert old intercom system

 

1. Refreshed wired intercom

Some property managers convert their intercom by replacing the in-unit hardware that tenants use to buzz visitors into the building. Or, they might convert the outdoor station that visitors use to request entry. Both scenarios entail keeping parts of the old, wired system.

And while replacing this hardware might give tenants the impression that the whole system is brand-new, a mere device refresh neglects one of the most crucial parts of any wired intercom: the wiring itself.

For example, old intercom system wiring connects each piece of in-building hardware to the front door. Unfortunately, when copper wiring degrades, it doesn’t matter how new your exterior hardware is — your intercom simply won’t work!

However, there’s good news:

With today’s wireless systems, you don’t have to run wires through the entire building. Modern intercoms are powered by wireless technology, making them user-friendly for residents while saving you on hefty installation fees.

 

2. Wireless intercom

Instead of depending on wiring, modern intercoms run on wireless methods of communication.

Popular wireless connectivity methods include:

  • WiFi
  • Cellular networks
  • Bluetooth

Wireless intercoms save you maintenance costs by eliminating the need for wiring and simplifying the device’s maintenance process. But not all wireless intercoms have visitor management capabilities. While some wireless systems require installing substations in every unit, the best systems operate with tenants’ smartphones and don’t require in-building hardware.

Although wireless intercoms are a step in the right direction, there’s still one more option that gives residents features and flexibility while cutting installation and maintenance costs. And that solution is mobile access control systems.

 

3. Mobile access control system

The most efficient way to convert your old intercom system is to embrace mobile access control.

Mobile access control systems allow tenants to speak to visitors and let them in with a simple swipe on their smartphones. You get all the benefits of wireless intercoms — without the high costs of in-unit hardware installations.

Best of all, mobile access control systems empower tenants to open doors for trusted guests and delivery couriers even if they’re away from home or the office. So, tenants will never miss a delivery or leave guests stranded outside.

 

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Should you convert your old intercom system?

To keep up with the speed of technological innovations, you should consider replacing your old intercom system with a modern one.

Specifically, you might consider converting your old intercom because:

 

You’re having hardware problems

Old intercoms are the source of many resident complaints. For one, outdated intercoms depend on copper wiring — which degrades over time — and will eventually leave tenants with a malfunctioning access solution.

And front door hardware and in-unit substations come with a separate set of maintenance concerns, often requiring you to tear down walls to fix wiring issues.

When this hardware breaks down, residents will then have to come down to the building lobby whenever they need to let a visitor in. Consequently, many residents will remember this inconvenience when it’s time for them to renew their leases.

 

convert old intercom system because you are missing deliveries

 

You’re missing deliveries

Deliveries are a big part of modern life for many residents. And your building’s intercom system can make or break the package retrieval process. Sometimes, a resident might have to chase a package for days — or worse, deal with a stolen or missing package!

If you’ve noticed an uptick in complaints by residents who weren’t alerted about a delivery, it might be time to upgrade your old intercom system. Choose a system that has specific features for package couriers, such as delivery PINs, that grants them temporary building access to securely place residents’ deliveries indoors.

 

You want to attract tech-friendly residents

Even property managers with fully functioning intercoms have plenty of reasons to convert an old intercom system.

For one, investing in a modern intercom system could help attract renters in today’s increasingly tough market. So, you’d want to make your property stand out from the rest of the competition. By embracing the latest property access technology, you’ll demonstrate your commitment to facilitating the best resident experience and providing excellent service.

Millennials and Gen Z now make up the majority of today’s renters. So, smart property managers will cater to their tech-friendly preferences and embrace smart apartment technology — including smartphone-based intercoms.

 

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How can you convert your old intercom system?

If you’re interested in converting your old intercom system, you must first remove the existing system from the property. You can do so in one of two ways.

There are two ways to take care of your old intercom:

  1. Cover and replace
  2. Retrofit

 

Cover and replace

Removing an old intercom system entirely can be expensive. So if you’re interested in a more affordable removal method, consider simply covering up your old intercom and putting new intercom hardware in another place.

But how can you cover an old intercom system?

You could use an adhesive or screwed-in cover that matches the exterior of your building. While this step is simple, covering your old intercom instead of performing a more comprehensive replacement might cost you more in the long run.

For example, your old intercom already has an electrical wiring connection built into the walls. And if you cover up that valuable connection in favor of installing another intercom elsewhere, it’ll cost you extra to install new electrical connections in that new spot. The costs of tearing up walls and ceilings for new connections will add up! So instead, repurpose the existing wiring to install your new intercom.

 

Retrofit

An intercom retrofit consists of replacing some or all of your old intercom’s hardware parts with new hardware. Retrofitting makes financial sense because it allows you to leverage your existing intercom infrastructure when installing a new system.

However, simply swapping out parts isn’t the solution to every intercom retrofit. For instance, what if the wiring that connects each piece of hardware is damaged? If this is the case, you’ll have to rip open the walls to replace or repair that wiring. And it’s almost never a cost-effective solution.

So, what should you retrofit with instead?

The answer: Choose a retrofit intercom system that depends entirely on wireless connections. Consider a next-generation intercom that uses the internet instead of fragile wiring to connect residents to the front door.

Modern systems only require two or three wires: power source, Ethernet cable, and door strike.

 

Takeaways

  • Convert your old doorbell intercom system if you’re missing deliveries, your hardware is breaking down, or you want to attract tech-friendly tenants.
  • Choose one of two options for converting your old intercom into a new one: retrofitting a new intercom or covering and replacing your old intercom with a new one.
  • The best way to update your old intercom system is to upgrade to a wireless, smartphone-based intercom.
  • Switching to a wireless, mobile-based intercom removes the need for wiring and in-building hardware

 

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Author

Ferdison Cayetano

I’m a proptech enthusiast from New Jersey who’s looking forward to the innovations that will revolutionize real estate.

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