With a wireless intercom system, you can be up and running minutes after you take them out of the box and power them up.
But with that ease of installation and convenience also comes some risk. There is risk of interference from other wireless and electrical devices. Other wireless devices near the intercom such as cordless telephones, wireless data networks, and remote audio speakers can interfere. Electrical devices such as motors can also cause noise on some systems.
There is also risk of other people hearing your conversations by picking up your conversation on a scanner, baby monitor, cordless phone, or a similar device on the same frequency. However, there are wireless intercoms that reduce or eliminate both of these risks.
The United States and Canada have several frequency ranges for wireless intercom systems and other wireless products. They are 49MHz, FM band (200KH - 270KHz), 900MHz, 1.6GHz, 2.4GHz, 5.8GHz, and in the U.S. only, the MURS (150 MHz). There are also Power Line Carrier units that communicate over house wiring that are referred to as wireless intercoms.
The newest edition to the world of wireless intercoms are WI-FI intercoms. These aren't used in the traditional sense of wireless intercoms where you have two devices in the same building and communicate between them. Traditional radio frequency units still fit that need. Instead they are used more for door or gate intercoms. The intercom at the door or gate uses Wi-Fi signals to communicate back to the house or commercial building. The the signal from the gate goes through the Internet to a smartphone or tablet PC. That way you can be anywhere and talk to visitors at the door or gate. They also have video capabilities so you can see who is there.
The 49MHz frequency was used by early cordless telephones and is still used by baby monitors and other low-end wireless products. Its range is short and conversations are not secure. It is also the most likely frequency to pick up noise from electrical devices. There are no known wireless intercom systems that still use this band.
FM band (200KH - 270KHz)
You will find intercom systems that use the FM frequency. They may work well for you and they may not. It depends on what other transmitting and electrical devices are nearby. They are also more prone to electrical interference. They are also not secure so anyone can listen to your conversations. If you look at the feedback on the Internet, a large percentage of those who purchase an FM wireless intercoms are are not happy with them. You'll still find many of these intercoms on the market.
900 MHz products were next to market. The 900 MHz radio frequency band is used only in North America, Australia, and Israel. When these products first came to market they communicated using analog technology. One problem with analog 900MHz products is that they allowed other people to hear your conversations if they had a device that is using the same frequency. Then 900MHz products used digital spread spectrum which divided digital transmission across a range of frequencies so other devices can't eavesdrop on conversations. Spread spectrum also enables multiple channels of communication at the same time with the same network of intercoms. The biggest seller of these stopped selling them so not sure you can get any intercoms in this frequency anymore.
After 900MHz came 2.4GHz frequency devices. 2.4GHz is used worldwide (Including in North America, Australia, and Israel). There aren't too many wireless intercoms available in this range except for video intercom systems.
But one of the problems with 2.4GHz wireless devices is that this is the frequency range used by Wi-Fi wireless data networks (802.11B/G) in residential and business.
If you have a wireless connection to the Internet or other PCs in your house or business, this network could interfere with your wireless intercom system. However, the majority of people do not experience any problems in mixing 2.4GHz systems.
As an example, one of the problems users have experienced is their Wi-Fi network resets every time they use their wireless intercom, which then causes the intercom to reset. Or they simply hear clicking noise on their intercom system.
If you do experience interference, the setup for the wireless data routers allows you to select the wireless channels the router uses to communicate. So if you experience problems you could try changing the channels.
But the problem with this is that many 2.4GHz devices use spread spectrum technology. That means they are changing frequency every second or less. They often use the entire 2.4GHz spectrum allocated to these products so changing the frequency on your wireless network will do no good. If you use a wireless network in your house and you choose a video intercom that uses this frequency, make sure there is a return policy that lets you test the unit and return it if you experience interference.
5.8GHz products made their appearance, but the only products available in this frequency range are cordless phones. There are no known wireless intercoms in this frequency. 5.8GHz devices can be used in conjunction with 2.4GHz and other frequencies so no problems should be experienced in mixing these.
DECT 6.0 is the latest and it uses the 1.9GHz range in North America. They work more like a cordless telephone and, in fact, they use the same DECT 6.0 technology, which is encrypted so your neighbors will not be able to listen in. In the past, wireless intercoms worked more like walkie-talkie radios where one radio could talk at a time with push-to-talk and release-to-listen functionality. You can find at least one DECT intercom that has full handsfree capability. There are also multiple channels so you can call individual stations.
MURS - 150MHz
There are five frequencies in the 150 MHz radio spectrum that are called the MURS service. MURS stands for Multi-Use Radio Service. This is a newly created service for use in the United States. MURS is a short range (can be several miles) service that uses the VHF (Very High Frequency) radio spectrum.
The FCC does not require users of products for these bands to be licensed, but it does impose strict regulations on the types of products and services that may be supplied to consumers.
Previously the FCC came out with the Family Radio Service (FRS) in the 462 and 467 MHz spectrum in which you can find handheld units, but no intercom systems based on this service. MURS is similar to FRS but it has a power increase of four times that of FRS radio. And unlike FRS, you can add a larger or external antenna to improve range. If you want to put an antenna on top of your house, you can do it with MURS. Some antenna manufacturers claim an external antenna can increase the effective radiated power of a transmitter by a factor of 4. These MURS radio intercoms can transmit up to four miles, and perhaps more with an external antenna. These units are not secure, but there are fewer systems in use and few devices outside of a scanner to intercept this frequency. The IntercomsOnline.com MURS 4 Mile Range Intercom uses the MURS frequency.
While MURS cannot legally be used in Canada, there are two frequencies at 151.055 and 151.115 MHz that are unlicensed frequencies in Canada. Many of our commercial intercoms are available in these frequencies for use in Canada. Please contact us if you have a need for these.
Power Line Carrier Systems
Power Line Carrier (PLC) intercom systems communicate using a very low FM frequency over your house's existing 110 volt AC house wiring that supplies power to receptacles and light fixtures. You just plug them in anywhere you have an outlet and they are ready to go. Technically they are not wireless, but they are sold that way.
While they sound like the ideal solution for basic applications, most users are typically not happy with these intercom systems.
These units are very susceptible to interference from both inside and outside the house or business. You may experience buzzing, poor audio, or they may work perfectly well for you. Or they may work well for you and then when you or your neighbor adds some new electrical device, they could quit working for you. You also could experience problems with units not being able to communicate because of the way your house wiring is done. The signal may not be able to cross to the second "phase" of your house wiring (220 Volts is run to each house and then split into two phases to give you 110 Volts). These intercoms are usually very inexpensive. These systems are not recommended for most people, but they are cheap.
Radio Shack was the last known provider of these intercoms in the US, but they are now discontinued.
So finding the right wireless intercom system for you really depends on your application and the wireless products you already have in your home or business. It also depends on the wireless products those around you are using. When it comes to using wireless products, there is no guarantee that you won't experience some type of interference, so look for a vendor who has a guaranteed return policy if the system you choose doesn't work for you. Then you really can't lose by trying a wireless intercom system.
Wireless Intercom Review
Hosmart Full-Duplex Wireless Intercom System Model - HY616Our favorite digital wireless intercom is the Hosmart Full-Duplex Wireless Intercom System Model - HY616. The nicest feature of this intercom is that it is full-duplex, which means that once you answer a call, both parties can speak without having to press a button. They work more like a cordless telephone and, in fact, they use the same DECT 6.0 technology, which is encrypted so your neighbors will not be able to listen in. In the past, wireless intercoms worked more like walkie-talkie radios where one radio could talk at a time with push-to-talk and release-to-listen functionality.
To call an individual room you first press the Call button, then the number of the unit you want to call. When they answer you have a private conversation with only that station.
These intercoms are very flexible on power. They come with an AC adapter, you can use a standard USB battery pack, you can plug it into a computer, or you can use OPTIONAL, removable 18650 rechargeable batteries. These are the kind used in flashlights, and some Tesla electric cars still use these as their cells in their battery pack. The batteries will last approximately a week of normal operation before needing recharging or swapping with a charged battery.
The range of these intercoms is up to 1000 feet, however that is in an open environment with no walls in between. Range will be lower with obstructions.
The best feature besides the full duplex capability on this intercom is the channel feature. There are 6 channels and you can set the default channel on each intercom so that if a user leaves their channel to talk to someone else, it will default back to its preprogrammed channel. The maximum number of intercoms you can have in your system is six (1 master and 5 substations) so you cannot add more rooms beyond this limit.
The Group button enables you to call all stations no matter what channel they are on, but it is limited to 4 stations in the group.
To put a unit into monitor mode, press the Monitor button. The channel LED indicator will flash to show available channels on the master unit. Press the channel button that you want to monitor. The unit will be continuously monitored by other units. Press the Monitor button again to exit monitor mode.
For the Hosmart HY616, click this link: Hosmart HY616
Wuloo Intercoms Wireless – WL888If you need a slightly lower cost intercom that gives you more channels for more rooms, then this Wuloo WL888 may work for you. This intercom can handle up to ten rooms.
This intercom system claims it can reach distances of a mile with crisp sound quality. You should definitely be skeptical of those kind of range claims, especially on a unit that uses FM frequencies. However, most users don't need anywhere near that range. And the range you get will be dependent on what sort of interference you have in your area. Some users complain that it wouldn't even cover a 1500 square foot house, or that they were awakened in the middle of the night with interference on their intercoms. If you live in a highly congested area, you will likely have problems with these. There is a channel switch you can use in case your neighbors have the same unit. There are three channels available, but this still may not solve problems in highly congested areas. The biggest downside of this unit is that if you are on the same channel as a neighbor, they will hear you.
That said this intercom has some nice features. First it has voice activation (VOX)mode for handsfree transmitting, but like VOX on all intercoms, you must be sitting right in front of it. The voice quality is not as good on this unit as some of the other options.
It does have monitor mode that lets you listen in to a single room (turns off after 10 hours)
Unlike the Hosmart full duplex intercom, this one is push-to-talk.
To get more info on the Wuloo intercom feature, just click the link here: Wuloo WL888
MURS Wireless IntercomMURS stands for Multi-Use Radio System and is a group of frequencies assigned by the Federal Communications Commission for license-free 2-way radio communications. Since MURS essentially uses business-band 2-way radio frequencies, you can get the longest range of all wireless intercoms using these.
There are multiple types of MURS devices for indoor and outdoor use. You can get handheld radios so you can be mobile and still communicate. There are also base station wireless intercoms for stationary use. The two types can be used together. In addition, there are motion detectors, wireless PA units, customer service callboxes, and outdoor-rated wireless callboxes as described below.
The most cost-effective MURS base station intercom is the MURS Multi-Mile – DA1006. This base station has a range of up to four miles. See the product here: MURS Multi-Mile – DA1006
You can get more info about MURS radios here: MURS Radio Guide
Wireless Callbox Outdoor IntercomsIf you need a durable outdoor intercom that can withstand harsh environments, then a wireless callbox intercom is what you need. These devices use two-way radio technology so they can reach long distances. They will have the longest range of all devices. These are available in license-free MURS frequencies as well as licensed UHF frequencies that can be used with your existing 2-way radios.
We have callboxes with two different physical forms. The lowest cost callbox is in a gasket sealed, high-impact polycarbonate housing. This one is compact and is quite easy to place. The other is a larger vandal-proof stainless steel front with a fiberglass back. Both types can be battery powered or powered by 12 volts DC.
These callboxes work well at security doors or gates and even can activate a door or gate opener.
To communicate with these callboxes, you can use either a handheld radio or desktop base station intercom. You can also use both options simultaneously. There is no limit to the number of devices that can communicate with the callboxes here: Check out our callboxes wireless callbox.
Amazon Echo DevicesIf you already have an Amazon account, you have an option of a wireless intercom that most people are not aware of. Amazon’s Echo devices can play music, give you weather reports, place an order for recurring products, turn on lights, and answer all your questions about most things through their Alexa service. What many people don’t know is that you can also use the Echo devices for handsfree calling between them.
The Echo devices have what is called the “Drop In” feature. This feature lets you simply talk to Alexa and call most anyone you want, whether they are in the house or not. You can link Alex with your contacts list so you could simply say something like “Alexa, call Mom” and it will automatically call your mom and then you can then speak to her hands free. You can even use it to order food by asking Alexa to call your favorite restaurant. If Alexa can find it on the Internet, it should be able to call it.
But you can also call other devices inside the house. If you have an Echo in the bedroom and the kitchen, you can simply say “Alexa, drop in kitchen” and it will connect the bedroom to the kitchen unit for hands free communication on both sides. If you have devices throughout the house, you can make a broadcast announcement to all units by saying something like “Alexa, announce time to go”.
The sound quality on all Echo devices is better than most intercom equipment available. Each device is loaded with microphones and a quality speaker.
The most economical device is the Echo DOT smart speaker with Alexa. It is a compact hockey puck sized device that has a quality sound. And the good news is that it is about the same cost as any basic wireless intercom. This is an audio-only device.
Amazon also has the Echo SHOW, which has video capability as well. Not only can you talk to other rooms, but you can see the person if they have a SHOW in their room as well.
One last nice feature is that you can even use an app on your smartphone to drop in on a room even when you are not at home. So you can be at work and still “drop in” your kid’s room to make sure they are doing their homework.
Click these links to see the products:
2-Way RadiosYou could just use handheld walkie talkies for communication. This works especially well if you need to move around a property. We recommend using radios in the MURS frequencies for longer range. Also, MURS frequencies are much less used than the most commonly used FRS and GRMS radios you find in Wal-Mart and on other store shelves.
The Dual Talk Buttons MURS Two-Way Radio we have is a nice option since it is small, has a drop-in charger, comes with a headset, and is very durable. As a bonus, it works with all the other MURS devices we have on our website. There is no limit to the number of these radios that can work together. See the product here: Dual-Talk 2-Way Radio
Caregiver IntercomSometimes the purpose of a wireless intercom is to be used for caregiving of an elderly or disabled person. There are multiple ways to do this. One way we discussed above is to use the Amazon Echo devices. The downside of this is needing Amazon accounts and Wi-Fi access, which may not be available.
If you only need an intercom that works inside a house, then the Hosmart Caregiver Pager is a good choice. It includes an easy-to-carry pendant that can be put in a pocket or hung around the neck. It provides two-way hands-free communication between the pendant and a base station that can be moved around. It has a range of up to 1000 feet. See the product here.
If you, as a caregiver, live in a nearby house, then the MURS wireless intercoms discussed above could be used for communication. The MURS Multi-Mile Base Wireless Intercom can be used for communication both inside a house and between houses. See the product here.
Ring Video Doorbell
Some searches for wireless intercoms are really for a wireless doorbell intercom. These days, this type of intercom is Wi-Fi-based and has video that connects to an App on your smartphone. The Ring Video Doorbell is the most well-known of these devices.
The Ring connects to a Wi-Fi network and sends real-time notifications to a smart phone or tablet when someone is at the door. It uses a free app which is available for Apple, Android, and Windows 10 devices.
With the app you can see an hi-definition 1080P video stream of the person at the door and speak to them using two-way audio communication. The doorbell can alert you when someone presses the button on the doorbell or when motion is detected.
After setting up the doorbell, you can share access to additional users simply by entering their email address. When multiple users are connected, all users will be notified of any activity via push notifications.
This version is not battery powered and will require connecting to an existing or newly wired doorbell power supply.The Ring Pro that replaces an existing doorbell can be found here: Ring Pro
Wi-Fi-Based IntercomsIf you are looking for a door or gate intercom but want something more durable and reliable than a Ring Wi-Fi intercom, then there are better options. These intercoms are in a durable, water resistant housing and include a keypad so visitors can use a code to gain entry. They include the ability to active an electric door strike or gate controller.
GSM Cellphone-Based IntercomsIf the wireless intercom you need is at a door or gate, then this option uses cellphone service from AT&T or T Mobile to call you on your cell phone or landline phone. With this option, you can be anywhere and still talk to people at the door or gate, and you can let them in remotely. All you need is good cell phone service at the door or gate, plus AC power, and the intercom will call you or other phone numbers you have programmed in the system.
So, as you can see, the phrase "wireless intercom" has a wide meaning. We believe we have covered the types that fit into most applications we encounter. If you have an application not covered here or if you have additional questions, feel free to give us a call at 888-298-9489.
If you want to discover the true distance wireless intercom devices can communicate, check out these articles:
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