Instructions for Setting Up a Home Intercom System

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©2006 Publications International, Ltd. To start installing your home intercom system, choose the locations for the master station and substations. Typically, the master station is positioned in the kitchen.

Aside from summoning family members to dinner or calling someone to the phone, a home intercommunication system can serve other purposes. For a reasonable price, you can have a paging system that comes with a radio to play music throughout your house. Additionally, you can boost your home security with a front-door speaker that enables you to communicate with visitors before opening the door.

Setting up a home intercom system requires moderate carpentry skills and some basic wiring tasks. Some newer intercom systems utilize battery-operated wireless modules to extend the system without running wires in walls.

The master station is the main focal point of an intercom system. It contains the electronic circuitry for voice communication. If it comes with a music system, the master station will also have a radio or tape player.

Intercom stations that only allow you to listen and respond are called slave, remote, or substations. A typical substation includes a speaker (which doubles as a microphone during response) and a switch to shift from “listen” to “talk” modes of operation.

A standard installation includes a master station installed in a convenient location, multiple indoor substations, and an outdoor substation. The outdoor substation is commonly placed at the front door and incorporates the button for the doorbell or chimes.

In some intercom sets, the master station controls all operations: power on/off, radio on/off, and call station selection. You can call only one substation at a time or all of them at once from the master station, and the single station you call will be the only one that can reply. Pressing the push-to-talk button or lever silences the radio during your conversation.

More sophisticated systems allow communication with or monitoring of any substation, call initiation from substation to substation or from substation to master station, privacy at any substation without being monitored, and music transmission to any or all substations.

All components of the built-in system, including the master station, are slim enough to be installed flush on a wall in holes cut into the wall space. The master station usually fits in the gap between wall studs. All wiring can be hidden by routing it through the wall and along some of the underfloor joists.

Refer to the next section for a guide to setting up a system with one master and four substations. Although such a system would suffice only for a small home, the same principles can be easily applied in a larger building.

Tips for Installing a Home Intercom


©2006 Publications International, Ltd. After drilling holes at each of the four corners of your penciled outline, use a keyhole or saber saw to cut out the opening for your master station.

While your system might not be the same as the one described below, the following steps should help you through most home intercom system installations.

To begin the installation process, inspect the master station box or enclosure to determine the size of the opening that needs to be cut. Then, choose the location for the master station. The manufacturer usually provides a bracket or flange with holes for mounting screws, which you can use to install the master station within a wall.

Once you have determined the size and shape of the hole needed for the master station and its mounting provisions, locate the studs inside the wall. The hole you cut should be located between the studs. Decide on a convenient height above the floor and pencil the shape of the master station hole on the wall. A good height is five feet (60 inches) to accommodate both short and tall individuals.

Drill 3/8-inch holes into the wall at the four corners of your penciled outline, then use a keyhole or saber saw to cut out the hole for the master station. Check if the master station box fits the hole and trim the edges if necessary. Set the box aside until you finish installing the wiring.

Next, cut similar holes in the walls at each substation location. Trim the holes as necessary and set the substations aside until after you install their wiring.

Refer to the wiring diagram provided by the manufacturer. In a typical master station-substation installation, only the master station connects to the household’s electrical system. Multiwire cable links the substations to the master station. If such cable is not supplied with your kit, you can purchase it separately from a radio-electronics parts supplier. Ask for intercom cable with the required number of conductors, preferably with a jacket covering the conductors.

Run a separate cable from each substation back to the master station. For a neat installation, run the wire from the substation down inside the wall and into the basement or crawl space or up through the attic. Pass the wire through holes in the joists and alongside joists to a hole that leads into the in-wall space to the master station. Since the cables from all the substations run to the master station, you need a larger entry hole through the floor space in the wall below the master station. Label each cable according to its substation location using numbered pieces of pressure-sensitive tape.

At each substation location, connect the three wires to the terminals on the substation unit, following the wire color or other identification code that you will find stamped alongside the terminal screws. Fasten the substation unit in the wall preferably to a wall stud and attach the trim molding that surrounds the perimeter of the unit to hide the edges of the opening cut in the wall.

Note that if the master station connects directly to your home’s electrical system, de-energize the circuit involved and take precautions to prevent someone else from turning it back on while you are working on the circuit. If a transformer is supplied with the master station to power the system, place it on or near a junction box or the main entrance panel, and connect it to the electrical system according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To install a home intercom system, start by attaching all substation and power line wires to the master station, following the markings on the terminal connections. Mount the master station on the wall, ensuring it’s firmly affixed to the wall studs, and attach the trim molding. Finally, restore power to the circuit. Test the system to see how well it performs, and if any of the substations fail to work, check the connections to terminals and wires. If a defective substation unit is suspected, replace it with another to determine if the problem lies in the wiring or the unit itself. For battery-powered substations, replace the batteries regularly and note the replacement date. Adding a home intercom system to your household can provide additional security, music throughout the house, or an easy way to call everyone for dinner. If experiencing issues with the system, refer to troubleshooting tips.

FAQ

1. What is a Home Intercom System?

A home intercom system is an electronic communication device that allows people in different rooms or parts of a house to communicate with each other. It is a two-way communication system that can be used both for talking and listening. This system is installed in homes to provide convenience, security, and privacy to the residents.

2. What are the Benefits of Installing a Home Intercom System?

Installing a home intercom system comes with numerous benefits. Firstly, it provides a convenient way of communication between family members. Secondly, it enhances home security by allowing residents to screen visitors before opening the door. Thirdly, it provides privacy by allowing residents to communicate without shouting or leaving their rooms. Lastly, it adds value to the home and can increase its resale value.

3. What are the Different Types of Home Intercom Systems?

There are various types of home intercom systems available in the market. The most common types are wired intercom systems, wireless intercom systems, video intercom systems, and telephone intercom systems. Wired intercom systems use cables to connect the different units of the system, while wireless intercom systems use radio frequencies for communication. Video intercom systems have a camera and a monitor, allowing residents to see and speak to visitors. Telephone intercom systems allow communication between multiple phones in the house.

4. How to Install a Home Intercom System?

The installation process of a home intercom system depends on the type of system you have chosen. In general, the steps involve planning, wiring, mounting, and testing. Firstly, plan the location of the intercom units and ensure that the wiring is done correctly. Secondly, mount the units on the wall or ceiling. Lastly, test the system to ensure that it works properly. It is recommended that you hire a professional to install the system to avoid any mistakes or complications.

5. How to Maintain a Home Intercom System?

To ensure that your home intercom system works properly, it is important to maintain it regularly. Firstly, clean the units with a soft, damp cloth to remove any dirt or dust. Secondly, check the wiring and connections regularly to ensure that they are not loose or damaged. Thirdly, check the batteries of wireless intercom systems and replace them when necessary. Lastly, schedule regular maintenance with a professional to ensure that the system is functioning at its best.

6. How Much Does a Home Intercom System Cost?

The cost of a home intercom system varies depending on the type of system, the number of units, and the brand. Generally, a basic wired intercom system can cost around $200-$500, while a wireless intercom system can cost around $500-$1000. Video intercom systems and telephone intercom systems can cost around $1000-$2000. It is important to research and compare different brands and types of systems to find one that fits your budget and meets your needs.

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