Home security has advanced so fast in the recent years, in fact, that’s also one of the reasons for me to start Gadgetly.
Intercoms, once only used in offices and commercial buildings, and selected luxurious households, are now commonly seen in a lot of houses. Besides the more pressing needs for home security, the technology behind newer intercoms have developed tremendously, giving new features useful for household usage, and at the same time reducing the costs to be more affordable than ever.
With that in mind, I’ve tested some of the best intercom products available on the market with a mission to bring you the facts and honest reviews so you can make a better purchase decision for your specific needs.
Before we begin reviewing the products, however, let’s begin with a brief discussion about the basics of intercoms, starting with the types.
Classifying The Intercoms
We can classify intercoms based on many factors. However, here are some of the notable ones:
- 1 Classifications by Transmissions
- 2 Classifications by Types of Signal
- 3 Features of Intercoms
- 4 Defining the ‘Smart’ in Smart Intercoms
- 5 Product Recommendations
- 5.1 Nucleus Anywhere Intercom
- 5.2 Chamberlain NLS2 Wireless Portable Intercom
- 5.3 Generic Digital 3-Channel FM Wireless Intercom System
- 5.4 Samcom 10-Channel Digital FM Wireless Intercom
- 5.5 Intercom Central 246
- 6 Bottom Line
Classifications by Transmissions
We can divide intercoms into two types, based on how they transmit the signal: wired, and wireless
Probably the oldest form of intercom, this type of intercom will need to be wired to your main electricity to be powered on. Its main advantage is economic, and wired intercoms are more affordable than the wireless ones.
However, running a new wire for the intercom can be a daunting, expensive, and messy task.Not only you will need to set up a wiring to your main electricity system, but you will also need to run a wire from the transmitter and the receiver, which depending on your needs, may be far from each other.
Wired intercoms might be the best option if your building is under construction, or you already have an existing wiring (i.e., for old doorbell).
Wireless intercoms use radio frequencies to transmit its signal and sometimes can be powered by your main electricity (either can be plugged in directly or you’ll need to hardwire), or with a built-in battery.
On wireless intercoms, an important factor you might want to consider in your purchase decision is the signal range. The further (and higher quality) the signal can be transmitted; the more expensive the intercom will be.
Classifications by Types of Signal
An older form of intercoms, audio-only intercoms are sometimes still preferred for its simplicity, and of course, its economical benefits.
As the name suggests, audio intercom will only provide a two-way audio signal as the means of communication between the user and the visitor.
Video intercoms, on the other hand, allow you to view and talk with your visitors. The video signal is only one-way (only the user can view the visitor on video), while the audio signal is two-way. There are also some products that offer two-way video communications with great quality.
In recent years, video intercom has become one of the most popular for household usages, especially because they have become more affordable than ever. The video and camera quality have also advanced dramatically, and most newer video intercoms come with HD video quality nowadays.
Moving on, let us discuss the main features we should look on an intercom product:
Features of Intercoms
Although there are many different products with diverse variation of features and extra values, here are the most important features you should look for when purchasing an intercom:
On wired intercoms, the effective distance won’t be an issue, as the signal will-will only diminish by a very small amount as the wire length goes.On wireless intercoms, however, the effective distance will be one of the most important issues you should consider. Wireless signal will also diminish if there are thick walls, especially when made of concrete or metal, and the signal might lose its stability the longer the distance is.
Newer, high-quality wireless intercoms can have up to 1,000 feet of effective distance, make sure you consider the size of your house or your office before making any purchase.
The main usage of intercoms is, after all, to communicate. Hence, the quality of two-way audio and video communication signal will be an important factor to determine your purchase decision. As mentioned, most video intercoms nowadays come with HD video quality,
Audio-wise, you should look for the overall speaker quality, noise cancellation feature, and signal stability.
If you are looking for an outdoor intercom, make sure that it’s equipped with a weather resistance feature. Heavy rains and snow might damage your intercom without water resistance. Outdoor intercoms should also have some form of noise cancellation feature, as outdoor settings could be noisy.
Price is, of course, an important factor to make a purchase decision for a lot of people. Remember, though, that in general, you’ll always get what you pay. Make sure that there’s enough balance between quality and price, as well as durability.
You wouldn’t want to buy a cheap intercom, only to have the need to buy another one because it broke easily, wouldn’t you?
Defining the ‘Smart’ in Smart Intercoms
With seemingly every new device a nd appliance on the market are released as ‘smart’ products, the term ‘smart’ has become so diluted it can lead to confusions. Thus, let’s define how can an intercom be defined as ‘smart.’ For me, a smart intercom should have the following qualities:
- Having two-way communications in both audio and video
- Ability to connect to your Wi-Fi Network, or ability to connect to GSM/HSDPA network by itself
- Integration with a dedicated mobile app
- Comes with a smart OS of Android, iOS, Windows 10, or similar ones
- Have some form of voice recognition or voice assistance feature
After we’ve understood the important features, types, and the definition of smart intercom, let’s move on to our product recommendations and reviews:
Nucleus Anywhere Intercom
I have always been a big fan of Amazon’s Alexa since it’s introduction in Amazon Echo, and I do believe Alexa is the best voice assistant available today.
What then, is the result when one of the most reputable intercom makers integrate Alexa to their amazing product? The answer is the Nucleus Anywhere.
Equipped with a wide-angle HD camera, easy connectivity with your Wi-Fi network, impressive overall hardware and software quality, the Nucleus Anywhere is not just a smart intercom. With Alexa, it can transform into a smart home control module, internet browser, and even mp3 player for the whole house.
Pros & Cons
Here are some of the notable things I liked and disliked from the Nucleus Anywhere:
- The Alexa-Enabled feature enough said
- Easy and instant installation and setup
- Integration with the downloadable mobile app
- Connects to your Wi-Fi network, so better transmissions overall, depending on your Wi-Fi quality
- It’s not just an intercom; it can be an audio player, web browser, mobile video chat system for your family member, and a voice assistant for your smart house
- Great video quality of 720p HD on 8″ ISP Screen
- 5MP Wide-Angle HD camera
- Audio quality is so-so, can have better noise cancellation technology
- Sometimes the video signal is not responsive, and you only see black screen, in general, the software can sometimes be buggy
- Third party integrations are still limited at the moment but might be expanded shortly
Why Should You Buy The Nucleus Anywhere?
The Nucleus Anywhere Alexa-Enabled Intercom is, hands down, one of if not the smartest intercoms available. As an intercom, it served its purpose very well, but it’s the extra features that brought the true quality of the Nucleus Anywhere.
Although it has some issues, like the buggy software (at the moment), and lack of third-party integrations, I believe those issues will be tackled shortly with patches and updates. Being only around $249 ($199 each for two), I honestly feel it’s a steal for its quality and features.
If you are looking for a smart video intercom with great extra features, this one is for you.
Chamberlain NLS2 Wireless Portable Intercom
Chamberlain has been a reputable manufacturer for intercoms for a while, and their products have frequented many best-seller lists of online and offline marketplaces.
Their NLS2 is their top-of-the-line intercom product for indoor usage. It’s wireless and audio only, so it comes at a very affordable price, but without any compromise to the quality.
The signal transmission can reach up to 1,000 feet without any compromise of quality with its 900MHz digital signal frequency. Very simple and easy to use, the Chamberlain NLS2 intercom can be a great choice if you are looking for a simple and economic wireless indoor intercom.
Pros & Cons
Here are some of my thoughts about the product:
- Very economic, and comes in pair
- 1,000 feet range of transmission, very stable signal transmission
- Powered on by 4 AA batteries, so can attain its mobility (no wiring requirement)
- Can broadcast to all channels through monitor mode
- Secure 900MHz digital signal
- Voice activation feature
- Can integrate with other Chamberlain intercoms so that you can build an outdoor-indoor setup
- Audio quality is so-so, and sometimes can have delays especially in houses with thick and concrete walls
- Does not come with an optional power supply, so you’ll have to rely on batteries, which can be costly in the long run
Why Should You Buy Chamberlain NLS2?
Chamberlain is one of the most reputable intercom manufacturers, and their products are affordable, reliable, and serve their purpose well. The NLS2, as an indoor intercom, is no exception.
The main value of the Chamberlain NLS2 is its simplicity and ease of use. Although it didn’t come with many luxury features, it serves its purpose well as an intercom. It’s also extremely easy to install and setup.
Being one of the most economic choices on the market, the NLS2 can be your choice if you are looking for a simple, affordable, yet reliable indoor intercoms. One of the main downsides is the reliance on batteries as its power source, which can be costly on the long-term basis.
Chamberlain NTD2 Wireless Indoor/Outdoor Intercom-Weather Resistant
Another one from Chamberlain, this time the NTD2 is the weather-resistant intercom intended for outdoor usage.
It can be used in combination with the NLS2, which we have discussed above, with a very simple pairing process, and similar signal transmission range of 1,000 feet.
The NLS2 is a bit smaller in size and is very simple in nature. Simply push the button, and you can talk through it. The NLS2, in my opinion, and experience, is more intended towards outdoor usage, where you can install it on your front porch or door, and the visitor can use it as a doorbell replacement.
Pros & Cons
Here are some things I liked about the product:
- Very simple to use and very easy installation
- Weather resistant can withstand heavy rain and winds without any apparent issue
- Great transmission ranges of 1,000 feet
- Secure 900MHz digital frequency signal
- One of the most affordable outdoor, weather resistant intercom products available on the market
- Powered on by batteries, so very easy installation and won’t need new wiring setup
- Very portable size
- Noise cancellation can be improved; overall audio quality is so-so
- Does not come with an optional power supply, so you’ll have to rely on batteries, which can be costly in the long run
Why Should You Buy The Chamberlain NTD2?
As mentioned, Chamberlain is a very reliable intercom manufacturer, and the NTD2 came with a very satisfying overall quality.
The weather resistance is great, and we have tested putting it outdoor in heavy rains without any significant damage and trouble.
Again, the Chamberlain NTD2 is very affordable, and you might consider it if you’re looking for simple and economic outdoor intercom with weather resistance.
Generic Digital 3-Channel FM Wireless Intercom System
The Digital Intercom System is one of the best selling items available, and not without its reasons.
First, it’s a very affordable choice, coming in 2 units package with 3 FM channels for a very affordable price of around $79.99. If you do have the need to install multiple intercoms in your house or office, this package might be the best choice.
Very easy to setup with its (included) AC adapter, very reliable with 500 feet effective distance, and great overall audio quality. The Digital Intercom System is one of the most economic intercom packages available.
One of the downsides is that it can’t be powered by batteries, which sometimes can be complicated if the AC power socket is located a bit far from the intercom. The signal can also have issues when there are thick walls, especially if they are made of concrete or metal, and can diminish the overall effective range of the signal.
Pros & Cons
Here are some of the qualities I liked and disliked about the product:
- Very simple and easy to use
- 3 channels of 462 MHz FM radio signal
- Up to 500 feet of effective range
- Great audio quality
- One of the most economic and affordable 2-in-1 intercom packages available
- Sturdy, durable, and reliable
- Lockable TALK button, useful for some purposes
- Stunning on AC power only (no optional battery power)
- Can pick up random interference signal, being of an FM radio nature
- Does not work well with thick walls, concrete, and metals, effective range might diminish to around 200 feet
Why Should I Buy The Generic Digital 3-Channel FM Wireless Intercom System?
The Digital Intercom System from Generic is one of the most purchased intercom systems in the market, especially because it’s so affordable and reliable.
If you need more than two intercoms in your household or office, you can simply add another package of the Digital Intercom System, and you can use up to 3 channels of 462 MHz FM frequency to connect with each other.
Overall, for its price, the product serves its purpose well. If you are looking for an affordable and simple intercom system package, this one might be the right one for you.
Samcom 10-Channel Digital FM Wireless Intercom
The Samco FM Wireless Intercom, in my opinion, is more intended for multi-intercom usage of more than two intercoms, with some of its features intended for that application.
For example, 2the product came with 10 FM channels, with effective distance of up to 1,000 feet. It can connect to other third-party two-way radio devices easily with a frequency range of 462.6625-467.7125 MHz, making group calls easier than ever.
Speaking of group calls, the product also came with a dedicated programmable group button, if you are looking for an intercom product with decent group features, this product might be the best choice available on the market.
Pros & Cons
Here are some of the things I liked and disliked from the product:
- 10 FM channels
- Wide frequency range selections from 462.6625-467.7125 MHz
- Grouping button and a decent overall grouping feature
- Simple installation and use
- Connectivity to other two-way radio devices including handhelds
- Effective range of up to 1,000 feet and is one of the most stable connections in the business
- Competitively priced, you gettwointercom stations for below $100
- Overall audio quality very good
- Relatively small and portable, yet durable
- Can only be powered with AC adapters, will limit portability
- Some users reported getting faulty products, there is a return policy but it might be a hassle
Why Should I Buy The Samcom 10-Channel Digital FM Wireless Intercom?
As mentioned, the Samcom Digital FM Wireless Intercom has one of the best grouping functions among its competitors, and the feature can be of a good use if you have a multi-story house or big office.
It is quite affordable, and there’s another package where you can get four stations for an even cheaper price. It’s small and well-designed, yet quite durable and still retains good audio quality even on its maximum effective range of 1,000 feet.
Overall a very good product especially if you’re looking to have more than two intercoms. It’s ability to connect to other two-way radio devices could also be quite handy in some situations.
If you’re looking for a simple, affordable intercom with group feature, this one might be the right one for you.
Intercom Central 246
Intercom Central 246 is one of, if not the most affordable option you might have on this list. Only slightly below $60 for the set of two, this might be the one to look for if you are looking for an economical intercom that will serve the purpose well.
One thing to note, though, that this product transmits its signal through your main electricity outlet. Two or more of Intercom Central 246s can connect with each other as long as they are plugged into electrical outlets that are on the same electric meter.
This feature actually makes the signal connection more stable, and the signal quality won’t be compromised with distance, as long as your electrical current is stable.
Feature-wise, the product has four available channels for communications, which is more than enough for a household or a small office intercom system.
Pros & Cons
Here are some of the things I liked and disliked about the product:
- Connects through your electricity outlet, offering simple and stable signal transmission
- Four available channels
- Overall, great audio quality and signal stability
- 12-months warranty
- One of, if not the most affordable product available
- Design and material look a bit ‘cheap’, might have issues with durability
- Can’t connect through an electric outlet with a surge protector, and can only connect within the same power meter, these might limit its application
Why Should I Buy The Intercom Central 246?
The Intercom Central 246 might be a choice for you if you have issues with Wi-Fi connection throughout your house or office, i.e having thick metal or concrete walls surrounding the house, which might limit wireless signal connectivity,
The Intercom Central 246’s unique feature to connect through your electricity network can be a viable solution and is generally more stable than a wireless connection without sacrificing the portability and ease of use.
The product is very affordable, reliable, and because of the unique connectivity feature, the overall audio quality is greater than expected.
However, make sure your electrical network is not surge protected, as well as being on the same power meter before purchasing this product.
If you’ve realized, we’ve only included one product of the ‘smart’ category in this list, and not without our reasons. We personally think that the ‘smart’ era for intercoms have just begun, and the Nucleus Anywhere, in our opinion, is the only one available on the market that can truly be describe as ‘smart’. We’re sure that more products with similar, or even more advanced features will come in the near future, and we couldn’t wait to personally try them and update this list for you.
For generic wired/wireless audio intercom, remember that signal stability and audio quality should be your main concern when making a purchase decision. Remember, don’t sacrifice quality for affordability, instead, make sure to have the balance of both worlds. Buying a cheap one that broke easily might cost you more in the long run.