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What is a Call Box System and How it Works

Every property owner wants to be sure that all the entrances to the building are safe and secured. In addition, the entrance system should meet the demands of tenants, visitors, and even delivery staff. For many years that role has been played by call boxes. They are used to simplify property access at multi-tenant apartments, commercial buildings, and gated communities. 

However, one might wonder if it`s the best property entry system, or if there is another alternative. In this article, we will explain how exactly a call box works. Next, we will have a closer look at the types of call boxes, their strengths, and their weaknesses.

Ritron Call Box Panel

What Is a Call Box?

A call box is considered to be an access control device, which is installed near the building entrance. It allows visitors to communicate and request access from a certain tenant. In spite of their limitations, call boxes remain one of the most widespread entry systems today.

Every call box entry system consists of the following components:

  • Master/Main station. It is installed at the building’s entrance and is utilized by guests to get in touch with residents.
  • Substation. Tenants use a substation to communicate with the visitors. These substations might be anything from straightforward audio-transmitting receivers to smartphone apps.
  • Door strikes. Depending on the sort of entrance, door strikes can take many different forms, although they are frequently either magnetic or/and electric. 

Call Boxes vs. Other Entrance Systems

While you might know what a call box is, one might wonder about other types of entry systems. So, what`s the difference?

Property entry call boxes are similar to:

  • Telephone entry systems: If your system uses a phone line to call your tenants and inform them of the visitors, you can refer to a call box as a telephone entry system.
  • Buzzer systems: When the system includes hardware that buzzes when a visitor calls a resident, call boxes can be called door buzzers.

Where to Install a Call Box?

Call boxes are usually installed near the main entrance at both commercial and residential buildings (apartments, offices, commercial buildings, gated communities)

Apartments

Call boxes in multi-tenant apartment buildings help residents to save time. The property staff can also benefit from having a call box system, as they won`t have to spend additional time granting access to every visitor.

Tenants can use the call box to:

  • Distantly communicate with visitors;
  • Grant access for couriers;
  • Manage the access without relying on a doorman. 

Offices and commercial buildings

Call boxes for commercial buildings can be set up in a few different ways. You might install substations in every employee’s office. Or, you might just have one substation at a front desk, where a staff member manages all visitor access. A call box for business has made it simpler for everyone to enter the building. Additionally, it improves the overall security. 

Gated properties 

Gate call box systems are used for gated communities like secure business campuses or guarded residential areas. These types of properties prioritize security and install call boxes to manage property access.

A call box must permit communication over wider distances as compared to an apartment door buzzer system. This is due to the fact that the gate call box at the entrance to the property may be hundreds or even thousands of feet away from the homes or buildings it serves.

Additionally, it could be quite far from a power source. Additionally, gate call boxes must be built for the outdoors, taking into account factors like subterranean wiring to guarantee reliable communication during harsh weather.

How Does a Call Box System Work?

Call boxes function by transmitting electrical signals from the main station device at the building’s entry to a substation situated in the residence. The signal is transmitted from the intercom call box to the resident’s substation in a variety of methods depending on the technology powering it.

The majority of door call boxes need wiring. If your call box is connected, signals move over the same type of cabling that telephones do from the call box to each substation. Wireless call boxes, in their turn, use the internet, radio waves, or cellular networks to transfer signals.

Ritron Outpost CallBox Panel

How to Use a Call Box Entry System?

A visitor must first locate the correct tenant in the system’s directory in order to make a call. The call box will then show a PIN code to reach the tenant once he/she was located. One should use the keypad on the call box to enter that code. You may then need to use the “#” key or a call button to start the call. Alternatively, each renter or apartment might only have a single “call” button on the call box. All you have to do is hit the button with the appropriate tenant name or unit number on it.

You may communicate with the resident using the call box’s microphone after they answer your call. To let you know that the door is opened, you’ll hear a buzzing noise.

How to Let Someone in Using a Call Box?

If your apartment complex has a call box placed, you’ll need to learn how to answer calls from guests and let them in.

Here’s the guide on how to let someone in via a call box system:

  1. Depending on the type of substation you have, you will receive notifications in different ways. If you’re using a phone, you just respond to it as you would any other call. If not, a buzzer on your flat door could perform the job of informing you of a guest.
  2. You and your guest may communicate with the call box, which connects to your substation wirelessly or by building wiring.
  3. By hitting “9” on a phone, you can let someone in. If your apartment is equipped with a buzzer, you can allow admission by pushing the “door open” button.

Different Types of Call Box Systems

You’re prepared to explore the many call box varieties now that you understand how call boxes operate and how to utilize one. Among the most common call box designs are:

  • A call box with an in-built camera
  • Wireless call box system 
  • IP call box 

A call box with an in-built camera

To enable tenants to view their guests, certain manufacturers of building entrance systems have started to include cameras in their call boxes. Since residents can see who is requesting access before granting it, this has the advantages of greater security and convenience. However, some camera-equipped call boxes have drawbacks.

Originally, wired call boxes were solely intended to transmit audio. In order to add a camera to your present call box system, you must make a number of significant changes, such as installing a whole independent camera system that must be controlled separately.

Wireless call box 

Even though the majority of call boxes are still wired today, call box technology has always drawn inspiration from developments in telephone technology. When wired telephones were more common in the past, call boxes were erected with comparable wiring. However, some call boxes are now wireless thanks to the development of wireless technologies including cellular networks, WiFi, and high-speed internet.

Compared to conventional call boxes, wireless call boxes provide a number of benefits. When there is no wire to buy, install, or maintain, for instance, you will save money on installation and maintenance. Many wireless call boxes still don’t provide the cutting-edge capabilities that building workers and occupants require, despite the fact that they’re a start in the right direction. For instance, they do not provide couriers with capabilities like Delivery Passes for one-time or regular property access.

IP call box 

Internet-based call boxes, or IP call boxes, are one sort of call box. Both wireless and wired internet connections are supported by these call boxes.

In order to connect to the internet, wired IP call boxes commonly need a CAT5/6 ethernet cable attached to a modem or switch. The radio frequencies used by wireless IP call boxes, however, are referred to as “spectrum.” Broadly speaking, the phrase “spectrum” refers to a variety of technologies, including WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, cellular technology, and even radio waves.

Internet Protocol, which is a set of guidelines computers use to transport data over the internet, is what the IP in “IP call box” stands for. IP call boxes are also frequently referred to as VoIP call boxes since Voice over Internet Technology (VoIP) is another widely used protocol. 

Main Limitations of a Call Box Entry System

Now that you are familiar with the various call box types and how they operate, let’s talk about their drawbacks:

  1. Not cloud-based
  2. Does not manage access to other parts of your property
  3. No features that focus on delivery
  4. No mobile app

DKS Doorking Call Box Panel

1. Not cloud-based

Data from call boxes are not kept in the cloud. As a result, your workers cannot remotely manage the system from any phone or laptop; they must manually update it on location. To simply upgrade the call box, you could even need to establish a computer server and engage an outside specialist.

2. Does not manage access to other parts of your property

Controlling property access is crucial. But you are aware that maintaining resident satisfaction necessitates making every section of your property easier to reach. If you want your tenants to have easy access to other parts of your building, a separate access control system, such as keypads or key fobs, is still necessary.

3. No features for guaranteed delivery access

Residents may now purchase anything, from food to furniture, and have it delivered directly to their door. However, conventional building call boxes lack any equipment that would ensure couriers’ access to the property. A resident will miss their delivery if they aren’t home or don’t answer their phone. Modern intercom systems, on the other hand, provide delivery PINs and passes to guarantee successful deliveries every time.

4. No mobile app

While certain call boxes let users unlock doors using their phones, this happens via a conventional phone call. An intercom that homeowners may utilize on their cellphones via a mobile app is a better alternative. Apps provide capabilities like live video and virtual keys that users may distribute to guests for simple access, in contrast to phone calls.

A Better Alternative to a Call Box System

Call boxes might satisfy fundamental access control requirements. However, call boxes are out-of-date, and your tenants deserve an intercom system that makes use of all current technological advancements. Invest in a contemporary video intercom instead of a call box to ensure a seamless property access experience.

Why a video intercom system is better than a call box:

  • Video communication. Video intercoms are made to communicate both voice and video, unlike audio-only call boxes. Residents may view guests before allowing them admission with a video intercom, which increases security at your home.
  • Cloud-based software. With a cloud-based solution, you and your team can control access from any device, saving a ton of time. A video intercom streamlines this procedure by placing it online rather than requiring each resident to be manually added to an entry panel and manually removed as they depart. By interacting with your property management software, the top video intercoms will even completely automate this procedure.
  • Integrations. Call boxes lack the necessary technological sophistication to communicate with the most recent smart building technologies. Modern video intercoms, on the other hand, may easily connect to other gear, such as smart locks.

BAS-IP Intercom Entry System

The most complete access control option is video intercoms. And BAS-IP is the greatest option in terms of security, practicality, and functionality.

The best video intercom system from BAS-IP contains all the call box functions and more. Additionally, you can provide a uniform, unified access control experience for your whole property, not just the entrance, when used in conjunction with BAS-portfolio IPs of access control solutions, such as keypads and key lockers. Additionally, BAS-IP has capabilities that both staff and residents may use to increase security and save time.

To control access while traveling, staff may log into the cloud-based dashboard of BAS-IP using any device. Additionally, they may combine BAS-IP with other property management systems to free up more time to concentrate on improving the resident experience rather than on administrative tasks.

Residents like that BAS-IP gives them the ability to use their cellphones to access doors and gates for themselves and visitors. Additionally, BAS-IP makes sure that residents have all the resources necessary to regulate access with features like on-time delivery passes and virtual keys for frequent guests.

BAS-IP allows you to control access to any part of your property, not simply the entry, unlike a call box. Choose BAS-IP to effortlessly control access to your gyms, parking garages, roofs, and other amenity locations rather than just the front entrance.