Read this guide when buying a gate intercom system for your gated community, parking structure, or HOA.
From gated communities to commercial parking structures, any property entrance with a gate requires a system to manage access. The best solution for gated property access is a gate intercom system.
Offering security and convenience, gate intercom systems are a wise investment for any gated property. But with so many options out there, how do you choose the right one? The right choice depends on your unique property and your priorities. Below, we’ve outlined what to consider when choosing a gate intercom system.
This guide includes:
- What to consider when choosing a gate intercom system
- What is the best gate intercom system
- Why you need a gate intercom
Here are 9 things to consider when choosing a gate intercom system:
- The gate’s location on the property
- Will it be wired or wireless
- Can you use it with a cellphone
- Does it have a camera
- Is it cloud-based
- How many residents/tenants live or work at the property
- Will the intercom call a leasing office or individual tenants
- Your budget for hardware and installation
- Whether the brand is trustworthy and reliable
1. Gate location
If you are planning to install a gate intercom system, first you need to consider the gate’s location on your property. Is the gate located at the end of a long driveway, a mile away from the other side of the community? Or is the gate at the entrance of a parking lot, separate from the main building?
Location matters when installing an intercom because it affects wiring and installation costs. The more wiring you have to lay and the further those wires have to extend, the more the system will cost to install.
2. Wired vs. wireless gate intercom system
Like other forms of technology — from telephones and printers to speakers and headphones — gate intercoms can be wired or wireless. The best gate intercom system is wired for some functions, but wireless for others.
When to go wireless
Gone are the days when you have to install intercom hardware in every unit on your property. Nowadays, most residents have a cellphone that can take the place of in-unit intercom hardware — which spares you the hassle and expense of wiring your gate intercom system to hardware in every home. A wireless gate intercom is ideal for gated communities and parking structures because you don’t have to lay wiring to cover the long distances between the gate and each condo, house, or apartment.
When to choose wiring
While you’ll save money by choosing a wireless gate intercom system that doesn’t require wiring to in-unit hardware, you’ll avoid frustration by choosing one with a wired internet connection.
Gate intercoms with a direct internet connection perform better and are more reliable. By wiring directly to the internet, you’ll prevent frustrating cellular or WiFi connectivity issues.
We recommend choosing a gate intercom that only requires three connections:
- Gate opener
3. Gate intercoms that work with a cellphone
96% of Americans own a cellphone — which is a strong indicator that it’s time to ditch your gate intercom with in-unit hardware and replace it with a system that residents can use with their cellphones.
That said, 81% of Americans own a smartphone. As smartphone ownership continues to grow, the best choice is a gate intercom system optimized for smartphone use. We recommend choosing a smart video gate intercom that lets residents operate the intercom with a mobile app on their smartphones.
A smart video intercom installed at your gate lets residents:
- Open the gate with their smartphone from anywhere
- Remotely grant property access for service providers, like dog walkers and house cleaners
- See who is at the gate before granting property access
- Grant property access to delivery drivers and couriers
As a property manager, you’ll also be able to provide temporary access for maintenance professionals and give couriers unique delivery PINs for easy property access.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of a smartphone-enabled gate intercom system is reducing wait times to enter your gated community. Car stacking is a significant problem for gated communities, so you need a solution to get residents and visitors through the gate efficiently.
Gate intercoms with a mobile app reduce car stacking by:
- Letting residents enter the property quickly with their smartphone. Residents arriving home won’t have to fumble for a fob or keycard while driving. Instead, they can open the gate using the intercom’s mobile app.
- Speeding up the visitor entry process. When guests arrive at your front gate, they can quickly gain access either with a virtual key issued by the resident or by calling the resident through the video gate intercom.
- Getting couriers through the gate quickly. Smart video gate intercoms let property admins issue unique delivery PINs to each delivery service. Couriers can enter their PIN code on the intercom for quick access.
4. Gate intercom system with camera
When choosing a gate intercom system, you have two options: a traditional telephone entry system or a gate intercom system with a camera.
Telephone-based intercoms rely on an analog signal that cannot handle the bandwidth of video transfer. IP-based intercoms are built to accommodate the data load of video transfer.
On top of that, your residents crave the security and convenience of a gate intercom with video. By installing a video intercom, you’re implementing a solution to accommodate your residents’ visitors, which range from friends and family to dog walkers and food delivery drivers.
Video gate intercoms offer benefits including:
- Improved security: Security is a top priority for gated communities. Residents want to know that anyone entering the property has been vetted and authorized. Video gate intercoms let you see who is at the gate before granting them property access.
- A property access audit trail: Gate intercoms with cameras can take a time- and date-stamped photo or record video footage every time someone uses the system. This serves as an audit trail, which property staff can review as needed.
5. Cloud-based gate intercom system
If an intercom is cloud-based, that means you can manage the system remotely — from the internet on a mobile device or laptop — instead of going onsite or downloading software.
Cloud-based gate intercom systems are ideal for busy property managers who need to manage and update the system anytime, anywhere.
A gate intercom with remote management capabilities lets property managers:
- Update the resident directory from anywhere
- Manage resident access and permissions
- Remotely issue PINs and virtual keys to maintenance professionals, couriers, and other service providers who need temporary access
- View an audit trail of all gate entries
6. Accommodating all residents or tenants
Before selecting a gate intercom system, consider how many people it needs to serve. Do you manage a large gated community with hundreds of residents? Do you own a commercial building with a gated parking structure that serves multiple businesses?
Make sure the gate intercom you buy can accommodate everyone who lives or works on the property. Some multi-tenant intercoms limit the number of end-users.
7. Front desk vs. multi-tenant gate intercom
When a visitor uses your gate intercom, do you want the system to call the specified tenant directly? Or should all calls go to a front desk or leasing office? If you want guests to speak with residents directly, choose a multi-tenant intercom.
Multi-tenant gate intercoms are more convenient because:
- Residents can see and speak directly with their visitors, saving time and reducing car stacking at the entrance
- Property staff doesn’t have to man the system 24/7
- Property staff doesn’t have to field calls from service providers and couriers
8. Hardware and installation budget
At the end of the day, your budget dictates which gate intercom you’ll purchase. Before buying a gate intercom, consider the cost of both hardware and installation.
Intercom hardware pricing varies from brand to brand. On average, expect to spend a few thousand dollars on the outdoor hardware. Intercoms with touchscreen interfaces cost more than rudimentary telephone entry systems, but they also add curb appeal and provide a better user experience.
Installation costs are nearly impossible to estimate without a quote from a professional.
The cost of your gate intercom installation depends on several factors, such as:
- The size of your property
- The location of your gate
- The complexity of the installation
- The system’s wiring requirements
Remember: Gate intercoms with in-unit hardware cost more than wireless gate intercoms because you have to pay not only for the indoor hardware, but also the cost of installing all that hardware. As such, installing intercom hardware in every unit on the property could increase your installation cost exponentially. Choosing a gate intercom that operates with cellphones and a mobile app can save you a considerable amount of money.
9. Brand reputation
The last factor to consider when choosing a gate intercom is the company’s reputation and reliability. You’re investing in an important system, so don’t skimp on quality.
Make sure the company you purchase from has a strong track record of selling reliable, durable, high-quality products. Read online reviews left by other customers and ask around your network for recommendations from other real estate professionals.
You’ll also want to make sure the company provides excellent customer service. Determine whether the company provides live email or phone support. If the company is not based in the U.S., do they offer any customer support at all? Your best bet is to purchase from a brand that offers live customer support in the same timezone as you. That way, you’ll always get your questions answered and your issues resolved in a timely manner.
The best gate intercom system
If you’re looking for the best gate intercom, the first step is to narrow down your options. There are many intercoms to choose from, but not all of them offer the features worth investing in.
Look for a gate intercom with these four features:
- Camera with video capabilities
- Smartphone-based property access
Why you need a gate intercom system
Now that you know what to look for in a gate intercom, you might be wondering whether you actually need one. Is it worth investing in an intercom for your gated property?
All signs point to yes.
Gate intercoms are ideal for:
- Gated communities
- Commercial properties
- Mixed-use buildings
- Parking lots and parking structures
Seamless access is vital for any property. No matter the type of property you own or manage, you need a solution to manage access.
Gate intercoms can:
- Delight residents, who crave the convenience of remotely granting property access to guests
- Improve security throughout your property
- Prevent car stacking and help you avoid penalties for cars backed up to the street
- Reduce the time your property staff spends on managing visitor access