the ButterflyMX video intercom system can be recessed or surface mounted

 

Key takeaways:

  • The best video intercom system to buy is ButterflyMX.
  • A video intercom system is a type of intercom system that sends audio and video footage from an intercom to a tenant.
  • Benefits of a video intercom system include delivery management, audit trails, increased security, and remote mangagement.
  • The most robust video intercom systems require a base station, but use smartphones as substations, empowering tenants to manage access from anywhere.

 

We’ve created this all-in-one guide to help you choose the best apartment video intercom system for your building.

Whether you’re installing an apartment intercom in a new development or retrofitting a system in your existing building, you need to buy a video intercom system that meets your needs. But with so many video intercoms on the market, how are you supposed to choose the right smart intercom? Read on to discover the best video intercom system for your property.

This guide covers:

 

Try ButterflyMX, the best video intercom

 

18 best video intercom systems

Once you’ve considered your budget, outlined your needs, and determined the intercom features that are most important to you, it’s time to choose the right video intercom system for your apartment building.

Here’s a list of the 18 best video intercom systems:

  1. ButterflyMX
  2. Doorking
  3. Aiphone
  4. Akuvox
  5. DoorBird
  6. 2N
  7. Comelit
  8. Mircom
  9. Latch
  10. Linear
  11. Siedle
  12. LiftMaster
  13. Enterphone
  14. Whoo
  15. MVI Systems
  16. 1Valet
  17. Openpath
  18. Paxton

 

1. ButterflyMX

 

As a property technology innovator, ButterflyMX introduced the apartment video intercom system in 2015. Its flagship product has been enhanced over the years, but its mission remains the same: to empower people to open doors and manage access from a smartphone. Since launching, ButterflyMX has been installed in more than 10,000 buildings and more than 1,000,000 units. The company also has the most customer reviews in the industry, with more than 20,000 five-star reviews.

In addition to opening doors with your phone, the ButterflyMX smart video intercom lets you remotely grant access to guests, integrate with your property management system, eliminate building wiring and in-unit hardware, and more. The smart intercom features a sleek touchscreen interface and a top-rated mobile app for an improved resident experience.

Uses

  • Multifamily/apartments
  • Commercial
  • Mixed-use buildings
  • Gated communities
  • Student housing
  • Senior housing
  • HOAs and condominiums
  • Self-storage facilities
  • Industrial properties

Features

  • Two-way video calling
  • Smartphone-based access and management through a top-rated mobile app
  • No building wiring
  • No in-unit hardware
  • 5GHz WiFi
  • Sleek and durable touchscreen interface with an 8” or 12” screen
  • Multiple access options, including virtual keys, door PINs, RFID, and delivery PINs
  • Cloud-based property admin dashboard with resident management tools
  • Audit trail with time- and date-stamped photos of every door entry
  • 156º wide-angle camera that captures a majority of the intercom surroundings for peak security
  • Elevator controls
  • Vandal-resistant and weatherproof
  • Contactless entry
  • Integrations with property management systems, access control systems, keyless locks, and more
  • Can be surface- or recess-mounted
  • Alluring design is aesthetically pleasing and improves your curb appeal

Pricing

ButterflyMX smart intercom pricing starts at $3,995. In addition to the hardware, there are hosting and software costs, which include the mobile app, ongoing updates, new features, and live support via phone and email.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • No wiring and no in-unit hardware makes for a simple and affordable installation
  • Smartphone-based access is convenient, intuitive, and more affordable than installing devices in every unit
  • The cloud-based dashboard makes it easy to manage the tenant directory and integrate it with property management software
  • The time- and date-stamped audit trail provides an extra layer of security
  • Elevator control integrations make for easy property access while only allowing guests to visit the floor of the unit they are visiting

Cons:

  • No solution for single-family homes
  • Features and functionality may be too much for apartment buildings with fewer than 10 units

 

What is the best video intercom system?

The best video intercom system is ButterflyMX. The wireless and cloud-based system is intuitive and user-friendly for property managers and tenants alike. Further, the systems’ highly-rated mobile app makes granting access and creating temporary access credentials a breeze. To learn more, click here to get your free quote.

 

Watch what property brother Jonathan Scott has to say about ButterflyMX:

 

2. Doorking Intercom

A staple in the access control industry, Doorking — also known as DKS — offers a wide range of traditional telephone entry systems. DKS intercoms use regular phone lines to allow visitors to speak with tenants, who can then open the door or gate remotely for their guests.

Uses

  • Single-family homes
  • Multifamily
  • Student housing
  • Commercial
  • Gated communities
  • Self-storage

Features

  • Traditional telephone entry systems
  • Some models are PC-programmable
  • Some models feature built-in directories
  • Keypad and call button interfaces
  • Separately sold features, such as directories, light kits, and camera kits
  • Some models offer elevator controls

Pricing

Doorking offers over a dozen entry system models with varying features and pricing. According to a recent pricing sheet, intercom pricing ranges from about $1,230 to $7,040. Accessories are typically sold at an additional cost.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Weather- and tamper-resistant
  • Traditional design

Cons:

  • May not have built-in camera/video intercom options
  • May not offer cloud-based access management
  • The cellular connection could require the purchase of a separate DKS Cellular Connection Box
  • Not all models are PC-programmable
  • May not have a mobile app
  • No touchscreen interface

 

Read the full Doorking intercom review »

 

3. Aiphone Intercom

 

A self-proclaimed security communication systems brand, Aiphone offers a variety of intercoms for several industries with a focus on security.

Uses

  • Single-family
  • Multifamily
  • Student housing
  • Commercial
  • Parking structures
  • Healthcare facilities

Features

  • Several product series with many models tailored to both large and small buildings
  • Video intercom options
  • Touchscreen, handset, and keypad interfaces are available

Pricing

Aiphone intercom pricing may not be readily available online because the company sells its products through distributors. However, Aiphone access control system pricing advertised by third-party dealers ranges from about $1,200 to $2,400. Accessories and installation kits are sold at an additional cost.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Supports building complex/multi-building connections
  • Modern video and touchscreen options are available

Cons:

  • Not all systems are cloud-based
  • Most models require in-unit hardware
  • Not all systems offer remote management

 

Read the full Aiphone video intercom review »

 

4. Akuvox Intercom

 

Akuvox is a well-known player in the access control industry. Offering a variety of intercoms — including smart intercoms — Akuvox provides technological solutions for buildings across multiple industries.

Uses

  • Multifamily
  • Commercial
  • Assisted care & hospitals

Features

  • Options range from simple video doorbells and multi-button door phones to smart video intercoms
  • Touchscreen and keypad interfaces depending on the model
  • Facial recognition is available in some models
  • Temperature and face mask detection on certain models
  • Weather-resistant, with a built-in heater for cold climates
  • Tamper-resistant
  • Flush or surface mount

Pricing

The exact pricing for Akuvox intercoms is not readily available. Interested customers must reach out for a personalized quote based on Akuvox’s pay-as-you-go model.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Enables touchless entry
  • SmartPlus and Vfone mobile apps work with smart intercoms
  • Options available for both small and large buildings

Cons:

  • Most systems require indoor/in-unit hardware
  • Indoor monitors use Android or Linux operating systems
  • SmartPlus and Vfone mobile apps have few ratings in the app store
  • Company based in China and may not have support in the United States

 

Read the full Akuvox intercom review »

 

5. DoorBird Intercom

 

Based in Germany, DoorBird is a company in the IP Intercom communication field. DoorBird offers a variety of intercom and access control products.

Uses

  • Single-family homes
  • Multi-tenant buildings
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Schools

Features

  • Keypad and call button interfaces
  • Wide-angle cameras on all models
  • Simple, straightforward design
  • Several colors and finishes are available

Pricing

Pricing for door station hardware alone ranges from about $500 (for single-family video doorbells) to $3,000 (for multi-tenant intercoms). Accessories, casings, and cloud services (for entry log recording) are available at an additional cost.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Open API for integrations with third-party home automation and access control systems
  • Mobile app to answer calls and grant remote access from a smartphone

Cons:

  • Limited touchscreen models
  • May only be suitable for multi-tenant buildings with up to 100 units
  • Could lack cloud-based remote management for multifamily buildings
  • May be unreliable

 

Read the full DoorBird intercom review »

 

6. 2N Intercom

 

2N is a European access control company operating internationally since 1991. It offers a variety of products, including intercoms and indoor answering units, access control systems, elevator systems, and IP audio systems.

Uses

  • Commercial
  • Multifamily
  • Single-family homes

Features

  • Touchscreen or keypad interface depending on the model
  • 2N Remote Configuration and 2N Access Commander allow for remote device management and administration
  • Option to operate the intercom with smartphones or indoor answering units
  • Built-in Ethernet port
  • Entry options include Bluetooth, touchpad, RFID card reader, and fingerprint reader entry options

Pricing

Many 2N intercoms are customizable, and pricing depends on the accessories you choose. Exact pricing is not available online, as 2N requires purchase through a distributor. However, the MSRP starts at $4,150.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Mobile app available to answer telephone and video calls, and to open doors from a smartphone
  • Remote management and administration capabilities
  • Modular intercoms allow you to add specific features and customize your intercom

Cons:

  • The 2N mobile app has limited user ratings for both the Android and iOS versions
  • May have a low video resolution

 

Read the full 2N intercom review »

 

7. Comelit Intercom

 

Founded in 1956 in Val Seriana, Italy, Comelit (officially Comelit Group SpA) designs and manufactures a variety of products, from video entry and video surveillance systems to home automation and access control systems. Comelit’s headquarters are still located in Italy, but the company sells products internationally from offices in 16 different countries.

Uses

  • Multifamily
  • Single-family
  • Commercial

Features

  • Two-way video calling when you install indoor video panels in each unit
  • Mobile app for remote property access
  • Panel options include a keypad, touchscreen, and sensitive touch buttons
  • Weather-resistant, though IP ratings vary between models
  • Name uploading via USB port
  • Face recognition is available for some models

Pricing

Pricing may not be immediately available on the Comelit website. You may need to contact a sales representative or dealer for a quote.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Integrations with access control systems such as Prodatakey, Salto, etc.
  • Mobile app allows for remote door management from a smartphone

Cons:

  • All models may not be IP65-rated
  • Certain features may only be available on some models
  • It may be difficult to know which models include specific features
  • Comelit mobile app has fewer ratings in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store when compared to ButterflyMX
  • It’s unclear how to learn more about products, get a quote, or purchase a system from a sales representative

 

Read the full Comelit intercom review »

 

8. Mircom Intercom

 

Founded in 1991, Mircom designs, manufactures, and distributes a variety of products, from fire detection and alarm systems, access control systems, and voice entry systems to mass notification systems and emergency lighting. Honing in on its property entry systems, Mircom offers several different voice entry, telephone entry, and multifamily intercom systems.

Uses

  • Multifamily
  • Commercial and industrial
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Government
  • Self-storage

Features

  • Various interfaces, including touchscreen, keypad, and direct-dial buttons
  • Most systems require in-unit hardware, though some are compatible with smartphones and tablets using Mircom’s mobile app, MiEntry
  • Only two video intercom systems for apartments are available, the TX3 Touch and TX3 Nano

Pricing

Pricing is not immediately available on Mircom’s website. You must reach out to a distributor for Mircom pricing. However, individual models range from $5,989 to $9,697.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Mircom offers an extensive catalog of products applicable across many industries
  • Various mounting options, including flush mount, surface mount, and pedestal mount

Cons:

  • Not all units are weather-resistant
  • MiEntry app has limited ratings in both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store
  • There are few company reviews available online, which could raise questions about product durability and reliability
  • Intercom design may not be visually appealing, and touchscreen interfaces appear cluttered
  • Could require purchase through a distributor

 

Read the full Mircom intercom review »

 

9. Latch Intercom

Founded in 2014, Latch originally focused its product lineup on smart locks. However, Latch has started exploring new territories, introducing its multi-unit building intercom in December 2019.

Uses

  • Multifamily
  • Student housing

Features

  • One intercom panel option measuring 6.53” wide and 12.82” tall
  • Tactile button interface
  • Residents can choose how to display their name on the intercom
  • Power over Ethernet
  • Three connectivity options: Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and cellular
  • IP65 rated

Pricing

According to Latch’s website, intercom hardware starts at $2,999, and software starts at $2 per month per unit. Pricing varies depending on the number of units in your building and the length of your contract.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Remote door unlock capabilities
  • Multiple connectivity options

Cons:

  • No built-in camera — video capabilities require purchasing and installing a separate camera
  • A small screen may make it difficult to read or find a tenant
  • The Latch mobile app has limited customer reviews, averaging less than 5 stars in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store
  • May not have a touchscreen

 

Read the full Latch intercom review »

 

10. Linear Intercom

Owned by Nortek Security & Control, Linear is an access control brand based in Carlsbad, California. While Nortek offers a broad range of security and home automation systems, Linear focuses on access control and telephone entry systems for a variety of industries.

Uses

  • Multifamily
  • Commercial
  • Healthcare
  • Government and municipal

Features

  • Offers the Entry Pro line with three models, and the more basic AE-100 Telephone Entry System
  • All Entry Pro models offer audio-only calling with backlit keypads, two I/O ports, and compatibility with most third-party VoIP adapters and long-range readers
  • EP-736 model includes a touchscreen display

Pricing

Linear pricing is not immediately available online. You must contact the company or a dealer to request a quote. However, recent quotes range from $1,299 to $3,816.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Durable intercoms
  • Clear audio

Cons:

  • May not include built-in cameras
  • Appears to only offer audio-only calling
  • Only one model has a touchscreen display
  • May not have a mobile app for smartphone-based access
  • Cluttered and dated design
  • May lack features such as virtual keys for guest access and door release audit trail

 

Read the full Linear intercom review »

 

11. Siedle Intercom

Siedle is a German company offering a variety of telecommunications systems, from intercoms to security devices. With offices in over 57 countries, Siedle is dedicated to developing technologies that improve security for people and organizations around the world.

Uses

  • Multifamily
  • Commercial

Features

  • Siedle offers both audio-only and video intercom options
  • Video intercoms can be used with in-unit hardware or a smartphone through the Siedle mobile app
  • Dome camera on video intercoms
  • Day/night switchover

Pricing

Siedle does not list prices on its website, but the price will depend on the features you select. We recommend you reach out to the company to request a quote.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Intercoms are modular and customizable
  • Straightforward design
  • Modular intercoms offer useful add-ons like a card, key, and fingerprint readers

Cons:

  • No touchscreen options
  • Not cloud-based
  • Mobile app could be difficult to set up
  • Video intercoms may only allow for one-way video calling
  • May not accommodate very large buildings

 

Read the full Siedle intercom review »

 

ButterflyMX Access Control CTA

 

12. LiftMaster Intercom

LiftMaster develops and sells access control systems for homes, apartments, businesses, and other types of properties. Most people know LiftMaster best for its garage door openers, but the company also sells a variety of other access control products, including intercoms and telephone entry systems.

Uses

  • Single-family
  • Multifamily
  • Commercial

Features

  • LiftMaster offers both audio-only and video intercoms
  • LiftMaster does not offer in-unit hardware; intercoms must be connected to existing phone numbers or operated with a smartphone through LiftMaster’s mobile app
  • Touchscreen and keypad interface options

Pricing

LiftMaster pricing is not immediately available on the company’s website, but dealer pricing starts at $2,895.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Functional for various types of properties
  • Straightforward design

Cons:

  • May lack integrations with property management software
  • Could require local dealer or installer for purchase
  • Limited reviews from users and buyers

 

Read the full LiftMaster intercom review »

 

13. Enterphone Intercom

Enterphone is a line of telephone entry systems sold by Identiv. Identiv is a global company selling security and access control products for a variety of industries. Its product lineup spans from RFID access control systems to cybersecurity solutions to telephone entry systems.

The Enterphone line includes three products: Enterphone iQ, Enterphone 19, and Enterphone 21. These three systems operate essentially the same — size is the primary difference between each system.

Uses

  • Multifamily
  • Gated communities
  • Commercial

Features

  • Display: The Enterphone iQ has a 10-inch HD screen with a keypad. Enterphone 19 and 21 have a touchscreen interface.
  • Listing formats: All three systems offer residential or business listing formats with drop-down menus
  • Mounting: Enterphone telephone entry systems can be surface-mounted or flush-mounted.

Pricing

Enterphone doesn’t list pricing for any of its telephone entry systems. You’ll have to reach out directly to request the cost of Enterphone.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Enterphone’s telephone entry systems automatically redial a secondary number if the first number doesn’t answer.
  • Unlimited administrators.

Cons:

  • The smallest intercom size is 10”, which may be too large for smaller buildings or secondary entrances.
  • No built-in cameras, so tenants can’t see who’s at the door.
  • No mobile app; therefore, residents can’t open the door or gate with their smartphones.
  • Enterphone’s telephone entry systems don’t integrate with third-party proptech providers or products.

 

Read the full Enterphone intercom review »

 

14. Whoo Intercom

Whoo is an intercom provider founded in 2015 by Arturo Falck. Falck originally intended to develop products with facial recognition technology. However, he pivoted to focus instead on developing access control products for apartment buildings.

Currently, Whoo.ai’s only offers one product: the Whoo intercom system. The company doesn’t design or manufacture its own intercom but instead relies on Akuvox for its intercom hardware.

Uses

  • Multifamily
  • Gated communities

Features

  • 7-inch LCD touchscreen display
  • Built-in camera
  • Mobile app for remote access
  • Smart keys, which are one-time codes that residents can send to visitors for access

Pricing

Whoo’s website lists intercom hardware pricing starting at $3,200. Its software pricing starts at $2.50 per unit per month with a $30 annual fee per apartment. You can contact Whoo Ai to request a quote for your building.

Pros & cons

Pros:

  • Smartphone enabled, so residents can video chat with visitors before letting them in
  • IP65 rated

Cons:

  • Third-party hardware, which isn’t designed or manufactured by Whoo
  • May not integrate with property management software or other smart access control products
  • Does not appear to have an option for recurring smart keys

 

Read the full Whoo intercom review »

 

15. MVI Systems Intercom

Founded in 2016, MVI Systems is a software development company whose primary product is its KeyCom® video intercom. Based in Brooklyn, the company focuses mostly on the multifamily market, although it also sells to commercial properties.

The KeyCom® smart video intercom system pairs with MVI’s Building Management Platform. This platform is where staff can manage the system and find door entry logs, maintenance tracking, and delivery status updates. KeyCom® also claims to include facial recognition and artificial intelligence software.

Uses

  • Multifamily
  • Gated communities
  • Commercial

Features

  • 12” and 15” intercom options
  • Built-in camera
  • MVI myKey™ mobile app
  • myKey™ TAB fobs as an additional form of access
  • Cloud-based dashboard

Pricing

The cost of MVI Systems intercoms starts at $3,995, which doesn’t include installation or ongoing service fees. On top of the hardware cost, you must purchase a Resident Onboarding Package for each resident. These packages come in a box of 25 at $150 per box. Additional packs of myKey™ come in sets of 25 at $37.50 per box.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Multiple entry methods, including fobs, PIN codes, and smartphone-based access
  • Remote access through the mobile app
  • Video call and voicemail

Cons:

  • If the MVI intercom experiences any issues, you may have to pay an installer to come on-site because MVI Systems may not have a robust customer support team.
  • Users report that MVI intercoms may be prone to system crashes
  • User interface may be overly complicated for many users.

 

Read the full MVI Systems intercom review »

 

16. 1Valet Intercom

Founded in 2017, Canada-based company 1Valet offers a video intercom system designed specifically for multifamily properties. The 1Valet Smart Entry System pairs with a mobile app, which residents use to answer video calls and unlock the door for themselves or visitors. Property managers use an online portal to manage the system. There’s also a mobile app —  the 1CONNECT Management App — specifically for property managers to remotely unlock doors.

Alongside its video intercom, 1Valet offers a parking management system and a delivery management platform. 1Valet integrates with a handful of other proptech, but not nearly as many as other providers in the industry.

Uses

  • Multifamily

Features

  • 42″ standing, 43″ wall-mounted, and 22″ wall-mounted intercom options
  • Built-in camera
  • Resident mobile app and a separate app for property managers
  • Property management portal
  • Facial recognition technology, which residents can opt into

Pricing

1Valet doesn’t list pricing on its website. However, they give a price range of $5,000 to $10,000 on their blog. You must contact the company to book a demo for a quote.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Remote access through the mobile app
  • Video calling
  • Delivery management system
  • Guest parking management system

Cons:

  • Facial recognition technology may introduce privacy concerns
  • Since 1Valet is a fairly new company and may not be as established as other providers
  • 1Valet may only be designed for multifamily buildings, not commercial or industrial properties
  • The intercom has a large footprint and takes up a lot of space — the smallest intercom model is 22″
  • 1Valet doesn’t appear to offer any additional access control products, such as keypads or key lockers, for access beyond the front door

 

Read the full 1Valet intercom review »

 

17. Openpath Video Intercom Reader Pro

Founded in 2016, Openpath is an access control company focused primarily on access solutions for offices and other commercial real estate. The Video Intercom Reader Pro was introduced in 2022 as Openpath’s video intercom doorbell solution.

This Openpath intercom works by allowing visitors to press a button and say the name of the person they’re visiting. The intercom then places a one-way video call to that tenant. The tenant answers that call from their smartphone, so they can see and talk to the visitor.

Uses

  • Commercial
  • Multifamily

Features

  • Mobile app: Tenants can use Openpath on their smartphones, watches, or tablets to open the door.
  • Key card/fob entry: Openpath can be configured to work with key cards or fobs that use RFID technology.
  • Wave to Unlock: The Wave to Unlock feature allows tenants to leave their phones in their pockets or bags and wave their hands in front of the intercom to unlock the door. Though it seems convenient, the app must be running in the background to use this feature, which can drain tenants’ phone batteries.
  • One-way video calling: When a visitor calls a tenant, the tenant can see their guest, but visitors can’t see tenants.
  • Press to call: Instead of finding a tenant in a directory, visitors must press the doorbell button on the intercom and say the name of the tenant they’re visiting.

Pricing

Openpath doesn’t list pricing on its website, so you must contact them to request a quote.

That said, you will have to budget for hardware, installation costs, and recurring software fees. Openpath offers three pricing tiers for its software: Basic, Premium, and Enterprise.

Pros & cons

Pros:

  • Mobile app: Openpath’s video intercom pairs with a mobile app to enable smartphone-based access. This is a convenient feature that the best video intercoms offer.
  • Multiple entry methods: With the Openpath intercom, tenants can unlock the door in more than one way.

Cons:

  • Poor mobile app design: Some Openpath users have complained about unnecessary steps to use the mobile app, like frustrating dialogue pop-ups.
  • Limited support for lower-tier plans: 24/7 customer support may only be available to customers in the higher pricing tiers.
  • Wave-to-Unlock battery draining: The Wave-to-Unlock feature seems convenient, but in reality, it may drain tenants’ smartphone batteries.
  • No tenant directory: The Video Intercom Reader Pro is a very small device that doesn’t have a touchscreen or a directory for visitors to search for a tenant. Instead, visitors must state the name of who they’re visiting, which could create confusion or lead to mistaken phone calls to the wrong person.

 

Read the full Openpath intercom review »

 

18. Paxton Intercom

Paxton is a UK-based access control company founded in 1985. Early on, Paxton started selling keypad access devices. However, the company eventually started branching out into other access and security solutions, like security cameras and intercom systems. Today, Paxton has expanded into international markets and has a U.S. headquarters in South Carolina.

Paxton offers many products designed to improve security and access, including:

  • Door entry systems
  • Video surveillance systems
  • Access controllers and readers
  • Wireless door handles

Uses

  • Commercial
  • Multifamily

Features

  • Built-in fob reader: Paxton intercom panels have a built-in RFID fob and key card reader.
  • In-unit hardware: Paxton sells in-unit devices that must be installed in each unit. In-unit hardware options include touchscreen monitors and handsets.
  • Keypad and touchscreen models: Paxton offers two models of its intercom: a touchscreen panel model and a keypad model. The keypad model has a single-line digital display, which could make it difficult to skim the tenant directory.
  • One-way video calling: When a visitor calls a tenant, the tenant and guest can see each other.
  • Additional hardware: Vandal-resistant covers and rain guards are available at an additional cost.

Pricing

The price of a Paxton intercom is $1,035 for the standard model at the time of writing. The touchscreen model costs $2,616.

Pros & cons

Pros:

  • Built-in RFID reader. Since Paxton intercoms have a built-in RFID reader, residents can gain access by scanning their key card or fob.
  • Video calling. Thanks to the intercom’s built-in camera, residents can video chat with their visitors. However, visitors won’t be able to see tenants on the intercom panel.

Cons:

  • No delivery carrier access solutions: Paxton intercoms may not offer any access solution designed for delivery carriers, such as delivery access PINs and passes. As a result, couriers may not always be able to complete deliveries.
  • Small display on keypad model. Unless you opt for the touchscreen intercom, visitors may struggle to use Paxton’s intercom because of its small, one-line display.
  • In-unit hardware. Unless you choose the smart intercom model that pairs with the Paxton mobile app, you’ll need to install monitor devices in each unit.

 

Read the full Paxton intercom review »

 

What is a video intercom system?

A video intercom system is a modern type of intercom system that includes a camera. When a visitor requests property access, the smart intercom sends video and audio footage to a resident. This way, residents can visually confirm who’s requesting access before opening the door or gate. Video intercoms for apartments also enable residents to open the door for visitors from in-unit hardware or their smartphones.

Multi-tenant video intercom systems offer either one- or two-way video calling. One-way video allows only the resident to see the visitor at the entrance, but the visitor cannot see the resident. Two-way video allows the resident and the visitor to see each other.

 

What is the difference between intercom and video door phone?

The main difference between video intercoms and video door phones is the ability to grant access. For example, a video door phone allows you to view activity at your door and possibly communicate with visitors remotely. On the other hand, video intercoms allow you to view the activity and communicate with visitors while also allowing you to grant access and unlock the door remotely.

 

Video intercom systems with door release

One of the most important aspects of apartment video intercoms is the door release mechanism. This mechanism allows residents to unlock the door for their visitors remotely.

There are two types of door-locking mechanisms for multi-apartment intercom systems with door release:

 

Electronic locks

An electronic lock (or electric strike) is a mechanical device powered by electricity. You install it in the door frame, replacing the lock strike plate.

This lock only receives electrical power when the door needs to be unlocked. At all other times, there’s no electricity flowing to the lock. To unlock a door with an electric strike, you have to provide a power source.

When a resident opens the door either on their smartphone or in-unit hardware, the video intercom system sends power to the electric lock, allowing the lock’s latch to release and the door to open.

 

Magnetic locks

Magnetic locks (maglocks) are magnetic devices that are also powered by electricity. A maglock consists of a magnet and a metal plate. And, in most installations, it’s aligned with the door frame, usually positioned at the top of the frame.

A maglock requires a constant power supply to remain locked. When the door is locked, electricity passes through the maglock’s magnet, which creates an electric charge, attaching it to the magnetic plate to keep the door locked.

To unlock the door, the intercom signals the door release system to stop sending electricity to the maglock. The door then opens, welcoming the resident, visitor, or staff member to enter.

 

How much does a video intercom system cost?

The price of an apartment video intercom system ranges from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on the type of system you install. However, that price only covers the video intercom hardware, not installation, maintenance, or ongoing service fees.

Multi-apartment intercom system installation fees fluctuate the most and vary based on your region. Installation costs will be higher if you choose a wired system. You may also have to budget for software costs and monthly service fees based on the number of units in your apartment building.

 

How does a video intercom system work?

A video intercom generally works by establishing a video call between smart intercom hardware at the entrance and a device controlled by a tenant in the building. The tenant can then use their device to unlock the door or gate for their visitor.

How a multi-tenant video intercom works:

  • Visitor requests access using the video intercom (the base station) at the entrance. The visitor searches for the resident they’re visiting on the intercom directory. After they find the resident’s name, they press a corresponding button to call them.
  • A substation notifies the resident. The resident then picks up the call on a substation — either an in-unit device or their smartphone. Modern video intercoms come with a mobile app that notifies the tenant when they have a visitor.
  • Resident grants access on their substation. When the resident presses a button to grant access, it signals the door release mechanism to open the door.

 

Types of video intercom systems for apartments

Today, there are a wide variety of apartment video intercoms available on the market. But remember, not all camera smart intercom systems are created equal. Before selecting an intercom for your multifamily apartment, you must consider the property’s infrastructure, residents’ needs, and your budget.

The main types of apartment video intercoms are:

 

Wireless video intercom

Wiring is an important consideration when choosing a video intercom system.

Video intercoms can be wired or wireless. Wired systems require wiring from the outdoor device to every in-unit device. In contrast, wireless video intercom systems don’t require wiring between outdoor and indoor devices.

Generally, wired intercoms are more challenging and expensive to install. Wireless intercom systems for buildings offer a less complex — and therefore more affordable — the installation process.

 

Cloud-based intercom system

Cloud-based video intercoms empower you to manage the system remotely — without having to go onsite. Video intercoms with cloud-based software allow you to update your tenant directory and manage permissions from anywhere, on any device. Cloud-based systems also enable residents to open doors for guests from anywhere — even if they’re halfway across the world.

 

IP video intercom

An IP video intercom is any apartment entry system that uses a camera and an internet connection. The ‘IP’ stands for Internet Protocol, a set of routing and addressing rules for transferring data over the web to the correct destination.

IP video intercoms work by transferring video and audio data between a base station used by a visitor and a substation used by a resident. The resident uses an internet-connected device to unlock the door remotely.

 

Video intercom with mobile app

Many apartment video intercom systems with mobile apps, which offer remote property access features. As such, residents can open and manage doors even if they’re off-site. Apartment residents can also answer video calls and grant access remotely using the mobile app.

Considering how much smartphones simplify and enhance the lives of millions of people, allowing mobile devices to open doors will significantly improve the resident experience.

 

Benefits of video intercom systems for apartment buildings

When it comes to installing or replacing a multi-apartment intercom system at your building, video intercoms offer several advantages over audio intercom systems. Many older intercom models, like a telephone entry system, lack the convenience and added security that comes with using an intercom with a camera.

Here are some of the benefits of video intercoms for apartments:

  • Increased security: Residents and building staff can see who they’re letting in to confirm a visitor’s identity before granting them access. Additionally, there’s a lower risk of vandalism at the property. Would-be vandals are less likely to act if they feel they’re being watched by the intercom’s camera.
  • Remote access: With a smart video intercom, staff, and residents can grant building access to visitors, delivery carriers, and service providers even when they’re not home. Administrators can also edit permissions remotely from a cloud-based platform.
  • Audit trail: Every time someone enters the property, the intercom records a time- and date-stamped photo that building staff can review at any time.
  • Delivery management: Given the increasing popularity of online shopping, package theft has become a serious issue in recent years. Many apartment residents complain about lost or stolen packages and will even plan their schedule around being home to accept a delivery. With a video intercom, residents can buzz in delivery carriers from anywhere.

 

Questions to ask before choosing an apartment video intercom system

 

Do you want one- or two-way video?

Some video intercoms offer one-way video calling, where the tenant can see a visitor, but the visitor can’t see the tenant. Others offer two-way video calling, which lets the tenant and the visitor see each other. Two-way video requires a secondary device for the tenant, such as an in-unit device or the tenant’s own smartphone.

 

Do you want to install in-unit hardware?

Intercom systems require two components: a base station at the entrance for visitors and substations inside for tenants. Advancements in technology have made it possible to replace in-unit hardware with a device that most residents already have in their pockets: a smartphone.

Smart video intercoms eliminate the need for in-unit hardware by empowering tenants to use the intercom with their smartphones. Instead of relying on devices installed in each unit of the building, tenants can open and manage doors with their smartphones, creating a more seamless and convenient experience.

Two benefits of a smartphone-based video intercom system are:

  • Cost savings: With a smartphone-based apartment entry system, there’s no need to run wiring and install hardware in each renter’s apartment unit. The cost of purchasing and installing the necessary wiring and hardware adds up quickly, so for most properties, a smart video intercom is more cost-effective.
  • Convenience: With a smartphone-based video intercom, residents can unlock the door for visitors, delivery carriers, and service providers no matter where they may be — in their unit, at the gym, or out walking the dog. Residents also don’t have to worry about carrying keys or fobs everywhere because they can unlock the door with just their smartphone.

 

Do you need a multi-apartment intercom system to support the number of tenants?

Think about how many tenants will use your video intercom every day and what they need. Some camera intercom systems limit the number of apartments they can support, and others limit the number of tenants per apartment.

So, make sure whatever multi-apartment intercom system you choose is reliable and can handle the traffic at your property. The last thing any renter wants is to get locked out because the entry system gets overwhelmed.

 

Do you want to manage the system remotely?

With many older building entry systems, you have to go on-site to update the directory or manage permissions. Not only is this an inefficient use of time, but these onsite servers cost a lot of money and take up a lot of space.

If you want to control access and manage the system from anywhere, choose a smartphone-based video intercom that comes with cloud-based software.

 

Is granting remote property access a priority?

Some video intercoms allow tenants and staff to open the door or gate even when they’re not at the property. Consider if this is an important feature for your building.

Keep in mind the many benefits of granting remote access. Even small HOAs receive a lot of package deliveries and visitors who need temporary access to the building. With remote access features, your video intercom system empowers staff and residents to let people in from anywhere. Not only is this more convenient, but it also prevents package theft and makes sure you see footage of exactly who is coming through the door.

 

Try ButterflyMX, the best video intercom

Disclaimer: ButterflyMX provides these blog posts to help our customers and potential customers make the right business decisions for them. Our blog posts are based on the information we have available to us at the time of writing.

Author

Jon Tamn

I enjoy writing about real estate, property management, and proptech. I live and work in New York City.