a woman rings a multi-unit doorbell


Multi-unit doorbells are a type of door entry system for multifamily properties. In fact, a multi-unit doorbell can completely revamp your property’s security and access control. However, if you’re considering multi-unit doorbells for your building, there’s a lot you should know before implementing them.

Read on to learn about multi-unit doorbells, including what they are, how they work, and three common types of multi-tenant doorbells. Finally, we dive into considerations you should take when selecting the right one — including a more robust alternative.

This guide covers:


What is a multi-unit doorbell?

A multi-unit doorbell is a device installed at the entrance of a multi-tenant property that visitors use to alert residents of their arrival.

Depending on the type of doorbell, this alert comes in various forms. Traditional doorbells use a loud chime that emits from a speaker for the entire unit to hear. Other doorbells may utilize WiFi to send notifications to the resident’s phone. And if the multi-unit doorbell has video capabilities, the resident can see who’s ringing the doorbell as well. Video doorbells for multiple units offer face-to-face video calling either from smartphones or in-unit hardware.

Furthermore, some multi-unit doorbells allow apartment residents to grant visitors access by remotely opening the property’s front gate or door. Depending on the type of system, this action may be done via in-unit hardware or phone.


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How does a multi-unit doorbell work?

A multi-unit doorbell works by allowing visitors to ring a doorbell and alert residents of their arrival. These devices are designed specifically for properties with multiple units (and, therefore, multiple tenants).

Multi-unit doorbells have three components:

  • Outdoor doorbell: The outdoor doorbell is located near the property’s entrance. It contains a directory of the tenants, each with its own button for visitors to alert residents of their arrival.
  • In-unit hardware: The in-unit hardware comes in many forms, but the most common is a wired telephone. Residents can speak with the visitor before letting them inside. Other in-unit hardware includes a touchscreen station or, if using a smart doorbell, the resident’s smartphone.
  • Door or gate release: Some (but not all) multi-tenant doorbells have a way for residents to remotely unlock the door or gate. The resident presses a button for the door or gate to open so the visitor may enter.


3 types of multi-tenant doorbells

Before investing in a multi-unit doorbell, you must know what options are available.

The three types of multi-unit doorbell systems are:

  1. Wired: Easily the most expensive type of multi-unit doorbell, wired doorbells physically connect the outdoor base station to in-unit hardware. When a visitor uses the directory, the in-unit hardware will notify the resident. Then, they can then speak to their visitor before letting them in.
  2. Wireless: A wireless doorbell uses a wireless connection — such as WiFi, Bluetooth, or cellular signals — to connect the outdoor base station to the in-unit hardware. Wireless doorbells for apartment buildings, also known as IP intercom doorbells, may also integrate video capabilities and the use of smartphones.
  3. Smart: Smart multi-unit doorbells seamlessly integrate video and smartphone functionality. Residents can see who’s requesting access at the entrance before letting them in. Instead of in-unit hardware, the resident uses their smartphone to grant access to the visitor.


two guests speak with resident over smart doorbell


Considerations for multi-unit doorbells

When choosing a multi-unit doorbell, you must know what to look for. By considering each quality, you’ll provide a better experience for your residents.

Before selecting a multi-unit doorbell, consider:

  • Installation requirements: The process of installing a multi-unit doorbell will vary based on the type you choose. Are you willing to spend the lofty price of installing wired doorbells? If not, smart or wireless doorbells are the better option. They’re easier to install and don’t require extensive wiring throughout your property.
  • Privacy concerns: Residents may have privacy concerns if your multi-unit doorbell features in-unit hardware with a camera. It’s essential you speak to them regarding the feature before making a decision. Otherwise, you may experience a higher turnover rate.
  • Demographics: Are your residents mainly millennials and Gen Z? If so, smart multi-unit doorbells are a great option for attracting and retaining younger residents. Older residents may fear new technology due to the aforementioned privacy concerns or lack of previous knowledge.
  • Weather: Many multi-unit doorbell systems are designed to stand up against the weather. However, severe weather can take a toll on your hardware. So, it’s vital you find the right system that can withstand your area’s climate. That way, your system stands up to the elements.


What is the best multi-unit doorbell?

The best multi-unit doorbell is a video intercom doorbell system.


What’s an intercom doorbell?

A video intercom doorbell is a comprehensive access control solution for multifamily properties.

The video intercom consists of the same components as a multi-unit doorbell but replaces in-unit hardware with residents’ smartphones. Unlike multi-unit doorbells, video intercom systems offer a comprehensive approach to access control. It not only acts as a form of communication and alert system when a visitor arrives, but it also controls access to the property’s door or gate.


a resident receives a request from a visitor using ButterflyMX


What’s the best intercom doorbell?

If you want the best video intercom doorbell out there, ButterflyMX is the system for you. It offers a vast range of features that your property will benefit from.

Benefits of the ButterflyMX video intercom system include:

  • Remote door control: Unlike other multi-unit doorbells, the ButterflyMX video intercom can unlock the door or gate to your property upon receiving a signal from a resident. All it takes is a quick tap in the mobile app.
  • Cloud-based: Rather than keeping a server onsite to store data, ButterflyMX stores everything in the cloud. This means it’s easily accessible anywhere from the ButterflyMX OS. Additionally, installation is cheaper, and the system takes up little space.
  • Video capabilities: ButterflyMX lets residents see who they’re speaking to when visitors request access. As a result, residents feel safer knowing who they let inside.
  • Smartphone-based: Rather than in-unit hardware, ButterflyMX uses residents’ smartphones to receive access requests, speak to visitors, and grant access. No in-unit hardware wiring or installation is required.
  • Guest management: ButterflyMX lets residents grant access to guests, including dog walkers, delivery drivers, and more. They can even send single-use or recurring virtual keys to those who need property access.



  • Multi-unit doorbells allow visitors to alert residents of their presence at the entrance of a property, either at a door or gate.
  • An outdoor base station, in-unit hardware, and a gate or door strike make up a multi-unit doorbell system.
  • There are three types of multi-unit doorbells: Wired, wireless, and smart.
  • Consider your property’s installation requirements, privacy concerns, demographics, and weather when looking for a multi-unit doorbell.
  • Instead of a multi-tenant doorbell, opt for a video intercom system like ButterflyMX.


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Bryson Hile

I love learning about new technologies, especially within the real estate market. I currently reside in Fishers, Indiana.

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