When our commercial customers create a security plan, they largely focus on controlling access to their property. We can do this in many ways. For example, installing high-quality lock hardware can go a long way towards thwarting break-ins. Additionally, access control systems allow business owners to control which doors each employee can open at any given time. However, we often find that intercom systems go overlooked by many commercial customers. In this post, we share some commercial intercom options to add security to any business.

We’ll begin with a look at the types of intercom equipment we install. Each piece of the puzzle works together to create the best solutions for your own application. Therefore, learning how the different parts of an intercom operate will go a long way towards understanding your commercial intercom options. From there, we’ll look at the main options customers have available to them when installing intercom systems. We offer both audio-only and video-enabled intercom systems. We’ll go into some detail explaining the benefits and specifics of each of these options. Now, let’s get started by explaining the different parts of any type of intercom!

Learning the Lingo

Like most security equipment, intercom systems come with their own unique terms. In this section, we’ll discuss the pieces that make up any of the commercial intercoms options we’ll discuss in this post. In particular, every intercom system consists of two types of “stations.” We’ll start by explaining the purpose of both. From there, we’ll look at a popular optional feature that we can add when installing intercoms. Let’s get started with a look at the type of station responsible for an intercom’s most important functions.

An aiphone audio substation

Substations, such as this audio substation by Aiphone, allow a property’s visitors to communicate with employees inside the building.

Master Stations

Master stations, otherwise known as “base” stations, belong inside the property where we install the intercom. Employees use the base station to communicate with those looking to access the building. Many businesses only have one master station. In small buildings with a receptionist’s desk, this often proves adequate. However, some buildings have several master stations, depending on how many people inside a business may need the ability to communicate with visitors. This allows one of many workers to reply to someone looking to initiate contact with someone inside. Master stations can also call all of a building’s “substations” at once. Next, let’s look at a substation’s relationship to the master stations in an intercom system.


Just as with master stations, we can install as few as one substation on any intercom system. We place these stations next to a business’s most important or “popular” doors. Once installed, individuals can press a button on the substation to initiate communication with someone inside. This will “call” out to the master station(s) to alert those inside to the arrival of a visitor. At that point, employees inside can use their master stations to communicate with individuals at a substation. Furthermore, some intercom systems even allow workers to remotely unlock the specific door that a guest has approached. Now, let’s examine how we can make this intercom feature a reality.

Optional Door Release Functionality

Adding the ability to remotely control access to your property represents one of the most popular commercial intercom options. In order to create this ability, we need to do two things. First, we must install electronic locking hardware on the exterior doors you wish to control. Then, we must install master stations with a door release function. At that point, the door release will interact with each door’s electronic locks to grant access to visitors when needed. The “unlock” button on the master station will unlock the door associated with the substation that initiates contact with the master station. However, “initiating contact” with the master station can take a couple different forms. In the next couple sections, we’ll see what type of communication options you have when installing an intercom.

Audio Intercoms

When most people think of intercom systems, they think of audio intercoms. These intercoms allow for audio-only communication between individuals at the master station(s) and substations. Most of us have visited an apartment building with a speaker system in the lobby and the ability to talk to tenants in every apartment. This represents a type of audio intercom system. However, most business owners install intercoms that call every master station at once, rather than choosing a specific station to call.

Additionally, employees at the master stations can “call” the other master stations if desired as well. This lets all employees with master stations communicate with each other in an efficient and convenient manner. Of course, if you have the ability to unlock a door with your intercom systems, your audio master stations can also unlock exterior doors after conversing with the visitor at the door. Because of their reasonable price point and usefulness, audio intercoms make a great solution for many commercial applications. However, some business owners prefer commercial intercom options that offer a little bit of extra security. In these cases, we install video intercoms. Last but not least, let’s see how installing one of these systems can help secure your business!

Video Intercoms

As the name implies, video intercoms allow you to see video of anyone activates a substation on your intercom system. Each substation has a camera that shares this video back to the master station(s). The master stations themselves have screens on them to display this footage. The size of these screens can vary, ranging from handheld master stations with small displays to 7-inch display screens.

An aiphone video master station

This Aiphone video intercom allows employees to both communicate with and see video of people wishing to gain access to your property.

Employees can view video a couple different ways. For starters, individuals at your doors can manually activate the intercom system by pushing a button just as they would with an audio intercom. At this point, the substations create an audible alert and display the video created by the activated substation. In turn, this allows workers to have a conversation with the person at the door. Also just as with audio intercoms, master stations with a door release feature will allow users to unlock the door at this point.

Additionally, you can manually pull up live video from any camera on your intercom system. This allows you to check on your doors before leaving for the day, making sure everything looks safe and secure. The ability to both converse with visitors and keep an eye on your doors remotely makes video intercoms our most popular intercom option.

Understanding Your Commercial Intercom Options and Choosing Wisely

We hope that this posts helps you understand your commercial intercom options so that you can choose the solution that works best for your own application. Additionally, we encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have about the material presented in this post. We will happily work with you to create an intercom system that fits your security needs. These systems provide a valuable service by allowing those within a business to communicate efficiently with those looking to get inside. Furthermore, the ability to unlock exterior doors from a desk also proves extremely attractive to many commercial customers.

We also encourage you to take advantage of our free site survey program. We offer free system designs and quotes to both new and existing customers alike. While on site, we can address any security concerns you may have. Moreover, we can make suggestions of our own based on our observations during our visit. Together, we can create a complete security plan that includes the best commercial intercom options for your own application. Doing so will allow you to efficiently keep your business — and those in it — as safe and secure as possible!