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Intercoms for Apartment Buildings, Office Buildings, Homes, Businesses.

What is an intercom?

Intercom usually refers to a  system hardwired between all points requiring inner communications. These come in a huge variety since there are no standards to conform to as with a telephone entry system. There are systems for homes, systems for businesses, for apartment buildings and more. There are analog systems, digital systems, systems with background music, paging systems, nurse call systems, and the list goes on and on.

There are too many to include in this meager space so we will include some of the more common applications for your information.

Apartments/condominiums: Consisting of a panel with a speaker and individual call buttons at the main entry and one or more speakers or handset stations in the units. The visitor pushes a button corresponding to a tenant. The unit inside buzzes or rings and the tenant goes to the speaker/handset to converse and allow or deny access.

Homes: Home intercoms are usually divided into two types of systems; an all call, all respond system or a selective call system.

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 All call system: Speakers are installed in required areas with one central amplifier or main intercom master location. When calling to other stations, the user pushes a button to talk and broadcasts an announcement to all stations. To reply, the called party goes to the nearest speaker, pushes a button to talk and broadcasts a reply to all stations. The central amplifier or master station usually has a provision for background music input or has some type of player or tuner built in allowing music to be distributed to all or some stations. There also is usually a door speaker button to allow the resident to separately converse with a visitor.

Selective call system: Speakers or handsets are installed in required areas as with the all call systems, however there is usually no central amplifier. (There are exceptions.) The typical system is made up of "master" stations and "sub" stations. Master stations have multiple selector buttons for calling other stations in the system. Sub stations have only one call button for calling to master stations. Master stations can call to and receive calls from any other station. Sub stations on the other hand can only call to master stations, not to other sub stations. An example of  a sub station is a door speaker. Master stations cost quite a bit more than sub stations, so a mix of masters and subs is common in both residential and commercial applications.

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Selective call systems in general cost more than all call systems, but there are obvious advantages in privacy and flexibility. They are also available with music input and/or built in music sources such as tuners, CD players, etc. The master stations come in sizes determined by the total number of stations in the system. Three call, five call, ten call, etc. and can be mixed as required.