Condo Owners Forum

"It's about community. It's about bringing people together. It's about creativity and service. It's about making the community in which we live a really good place to be." - In Miscellaneous Quotes, by Andy Stoll

Home COFSAB Forum Repairs and Maintenance Replacing Old Building Intercom

Tagged: ,

  • Replacing Old Building Intercom

    Posted by Jonathan on June 15, 2022 at 7:37 pm

    At our building we are planning to replace the old intercom system with a new telephone access system and possibly also install a door control system with RFID readers at all entry doors.

    I’d appreciate any advice on this topic specifically in the following areas:

    Any comments on the functionality and reliability of the common brands used – Mircom, Kantech, SES?

    Which installation company do you recommend?

    Where should the intercom be placed with respect to the entry door?

    Where should RFID readers be placed with respect to the entry door?

    Any other advice would also be appreciated.

    Jonathan replied 1 week, 1 day ago 5 Members · 13 Replies
  • 13 Replies
  • Terry

    June 16, 2022 at 7:07 am

    In our building, 39 units very close to downtown, the intercom is inside the first set of main doors. The outside doors are locked (10PM-7AM), but can be opened by FOB.

    I like the FOB system, but my board didn’t plan it out well. Take the time to plan it well. For example, the FOB is there for one level of parkade and not the other. Treat owners consistently.

    I thought our Board purchased a cheap system. Extra dollars for extra value would be worth investigating. It is a high profile item, used by many owners and visitors. Make sure it is an easy system for visitors to use. Some systems are not that easy to use for those unfamiliar with computers.

    In some systems you can easily see on your phone or TV who is at the intercom. That might be worth pursuing.

    All in all, I think the upgrades improved our security and would do it again.

  • Jonathan

    June 17, 2022 at 4:16 pm

    Thanks for your comments Terry.

    We have a similar system to what you have where the outer door of our entrance vestibule is locked at night. But during the day we sometimes find somebody camped out in the vestibule sleeping or smoking drugs. So we are planning to move the intercom outside the building and keep both entrance doors locked all the time.

    Another security improvement will be the elimination of physical keys.

    I fully agree with your points about planning the system out, and the need for the system to look good. I have looked at several intercom panels at other condominiums, both original installations and retrofits. The original installations almost always look good – the panels are placed in a logical spot, flush mounted, and the wiring is inside the wall. However, retrofits range from looking pretty good to horrendous.

    We are in fact interested in a system that allows a resident to use a cell phone to see who is at the intercom. Do you know which brand has this?

    • Walt

      June 29, 2022 at 4:45 pm

      Our condo had a new Mircom intercom TX3-200-4U system installed in February 2021. Individual owners have a code programmed in for entrance to the building. Visitors can punch in an owner’s unit number from the owner listing and call and be let in. The system is situated between our 2 entrance doors.

      Owners cannot view who is calling them but a friend of ours is in a condo that uses a Mircom intercom system

      and they can see who is calling them. That feature is hooked up through Shaw.

      There are 32 units in our condo.

      • Jonathan

        July 8, 2022 at 12:46 pm

        Initially I was looking at strictly telephone entry systems like the TX3-200-4U. However, a couple of owners in the building with backgrounds in software and electronics were interested in a more sophisticated system. So now we are considering Mircom’s TX3-Nano. As far as I understand it can operate as a telephone entry system, but also using a smartphone app that shows video of the visitor, and also through small screens installed in each unit.

        Unfortunately we found out that our existing intercom wiring will not support the small screens in the units. (The screens require a minimum of an individual Cat-5 cable to each unit, but our old intercom only has a single Cat-3 cable serving three units per cable.) Changing the cables would be near impossible because they weren’t installed in conduit and instead were installed by stapling them to the building frame.

        We might still go with the TX3-Nano though so that we have the smartphone app capability.

        • David

          July 9, 2022 at 10:13 am

          Regarding FOBs, another issue that you will need to deal with is ‘how many per unit’? While the answer might seem easy, nothing is ever simple.

          For us (114 unit condo in Canmore), we settled on 3 per unit (on the assumption of 1 or 2 people in the unit, plus a spare for a guest. These were provided at the cost of the condo.

          For some units, where there are multiple owners (3 or 4 etc.), they could purchase additional fobs on the basis of 1 per owner + 1 spare. That is, 3 provided by the condo, all others purchased up to a max of 1 per owner + 1 spare.

          I mention this as the # of fobs is part of your cost decisioning and it is best to sort out the assumptions up front.


          • Terry

            July 10, 2022 at 7:42 am

            In our condo the board settled on 2/unit, but you could acquire others for $50.

          • Jonathan

            July 11, 2022 at 1:49 pm

            That seems like a good FOB policy.

            So I assume that when an owner wants another FOB, the door access system is checked to see how many are already active for their unit. If they already have the maximum of 3, or 1 per owner + 1 spare (whichever is greater) then an existing FOB must be deactivated before a new FOB can be purchased. Is this what you do?

            • Terry

              July 12, 2022 at 6:47 am

              I don’t think any FOBs have to be deactivated, Jonathan. In our experience, we needed 4: one for each of us; one for a cleaning lady (luxury but necessary to have a happy life – happy wife) and a spare for contractors, family visiting etc.

  • Terry

    June 21, 2022 at 10:14 am

    Sorry, but I cannot help with specific systems.

    We need to keep people from using our lobbies for shelter, which is a problem for my condo.

    I think the quality of the intercom should be such that it doesn’t cheapen the appeal of the building. Make sense?

  • Terry

    July 4, 2022 at 6:39 am

    By the way, ensure that the intercom can be locked. If not, it is very easy for someone to access and change the inner workings.

    • Jonathan

      July 8, 2022 at 12:58 pm

      For sure. A few months ago some professional thieves broke into the building and our mailboxes and stole everyone’s mail. They somehow managed to break through the outer vestibule door, then broke through the inner vestibule door by prying open the postman’s electric door opener and buzzing themselves in.

  • Michelle J

    July 29, 2022 at 10:24 am

    We had the intercom located in the vestibule and our vestibule was locked between 7 pm and 8 am daily, as we are close to the C-Train and experience issues with unwanted guests. Even with the vestibules locked, we have ingress due to tailgating residents.

    Things to consider with intercoms and their location would include will they be vandalized? Will they be used for crank calls or for people posing as delivery services to gain access? Are they rated for our weather?

    Re FOBs: Our building has almost 300 units. Regular audits of FOBs are required to ensure expected use and/or access and then deactivate any missing (lost or stolen) FOBs.

    • Jonathan

      August 8, 2022 at 1:01 pm

      Thanks for your advice.

      Our building is much smaller (12 units). We have the vestibule locked at 10pm Sun-Thu, 11pm Fri-Sat and open 6am all days. We didn’t want the locking times to be too restrictive because garbage/recycling and parking are all is outside the building so residents are frequently leaving the building early in the morning and late in the evening to go the the garbage and/or their cars. So we set the times to minimize the chances that residents and guests get locked out without their keys.

      We’ve only had a couple incidents of vagrants camp out in the vestibule since the locking system was installed three years ago.

      Those are all good points about the intercom. Even though FOBs will require a certain amount of management, I figure it will still be easier and more secure than physical keys.