A gate call box is no longer just an intercom box connected to a phone line like they used to be in the past. So many more technologies have become available since those days, which is good because landline telephone lines are being phased out.
Before we get into the types of gate callboxes available, you first need to decide whether your want an audio or video call box.
Audio Only Gate Call Box
As this sounds, you can only hear the person at the gate. There is no camera to see them. These are simpler call boxes and can communicate over longer distances. These can also be wireless. You can do wireless video too, but it takes more expensive VoIP equipment to do this.
Audio and Video Gate Call Box
These callboxes have a camera on the faceplate of the call box so you can see and talk to the visitor. The camera is facing the person who is pressing the button to call and it sends live video feeds to a smartphone, tablet PC, or an internal monitor. There are also gate call boxes that can integrate external cameras as well.
Gate Opening Keypad
Another thing you need to decide is whether you need people to have the ability to open a gate with a PIN code. With an integrated keypad you can program keycodes that you can give to landscaping people, delivery drivers, or anyone else you want to be able to get in. There are also keypads with integrated proximity card readers that enable visitors to use a credit-card-sized card to open the gate, or key fobs are also available.
Gate Opener Activation
All gate call boxes have the ability to activate a gate opener remotely. They have an internal relay switch that you connect directly to the gate controller and when the switch closes, the gate controller activates the gate motor. How the call box switch is closed depends on the call box technology, but it involves pressing a physical button on a monitor, or a soft button on a smartphone. For systems that dial phone numbers, it is just pressing a key on your phone's keypad.
Multi-Tenant or Single Family
Another factor that makes a big difference in the equipment used is whether it is for single family buildings like houses, or multi-family buildings like apartments and condos. The multi-tenant equipment obviously needs a different set of features and is usually more complex. Not all the technologies below are available in multi-tenant.
Wireless or Wired
Of course if you can't run wires, you want to choose a wireless technology like the 2-way radio, cell network, or Wi-Fi products. There is a wide variety of products available that can convert VoIP gate intercoms to wireless as well. Otherwise a wired system will work for you.
Six Types of Gate Call Box Technologies
Below we cover the six types of technologies used in gate call boxes.
2-Way Radio Call Box
The most common and the first to market were call boxes that use 2-way radio frequencies. The benefit of these is their long range and lower cost. You can use either handheld 2-way radios or wall-mount or desk-mount base station intercom radios. Some of these radios can be programmed to activate a switch in the call box and that switch can connect to a door or gate opener, a light, or any device you want to activate remotely.
The MURS and UHF call boxes are push-to-talk two-way radio units. MURS is a set of 5 frequencies that do not require an FCC license, whereas UHF do. If you have existing two-way radios we can match the frequency in them so you can use them with these call boxes.
Digital Wireless Call Box
Digital intercoms have full-duplex, two-way communication that is transmitted over the airwaves between the callbox and an inside base unit. They use a spread-spectrum digital technology that provides encryption so no one can listen in the conversation. These can reach ranges of up to 4000 feet, but they are more susceptible to obstructions in the way. The nicest feature of these versus the 2-way radio callboxes is that they have hands free capability so there is no need to push-to-talk.
GSM or Cell Network Call Box
The Cell Network call boxes work over a cell phone network and will call any landline or cellphone number so you can be anywhere and talk to visitors. Since these call boxes require cell phone service at the location where you are mounting them there will be a monthly fee.
There are some unique features like the ability for a gate to open based on the calling line ID of the phone calling it. Also, the distance these can communicate is essentially infinite since they are connected to the cell network and it can call anywhere.
Wi-Fi Call Box
Wi-Fi call boxes use your home or business Internet service to communicate to an app on your smartphone or tablet PC. You will need a good Wi-Fi signal at the location you want to place the call box. Some systems also allow a wired Ethernet connection so there are ways to extend Ethernet over long distances if you do not have a Wi-Fi signal.
These call boxes also transmit video as well as audio so you can see and hear visitors as well as unlock a door or gate.
VoIP Call Box
Wired call boxes may use Voice over IP (VoIP) over CAT-5 Ethernet wire. they can be tied into existing data networks or they can be on their own network. We have one that has exceptional audio with noise cancellation that works in some of the noisiest and harshest environments. We often use this system on truck scales, which is one of the most challenging environments for a call box. There are ways to convert a VoIP callbox to wireless as well.
Wired Call Box
A wired gate callbox could be a CAT-5 described above, but it can also be simple two-wire system. There are basic, low-cost intercoms that use 2-conductor, shielded wiring between an inside station and the gate. This system is very simple to use. When a visitor presses the single Call button on the door station, the master station receives a short tone. The person at the master station is required to press the Talk button to speak, and then release to listen. The person at the door station speaks hands free. If you know the person at the door is there, they do not need to press the Call button at all. Just press the Talk button to talk to them. At the end of a call, if the OFF button is not pressed then the master station continuously monitors the area around the door. If you hear someone come to the door then you simply press the Talk button to speak to them.
There are also wired systems that use CAT-5 wiring, but are not VoIP intercoms. They just use a couple pairs of wires in the CAT-5. This type of system also includes video, and where most wired video intercoms on the market are limited to around 330 feet distance between the monitor and the door or gate camera, with this one, you can have up to 950 feet between them.
If you need some help choosing a system, call 888-298-9489 and let us help you choose the right system for you! You can also check out our call boxes here: gate callbox
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