Home phone needed for intercom answering
December 11, 2017 9:38 AM   Subscribe

My apartment building is replacing the current broken intercom with one of the systems that call you instead of ringing to a dedicated receiver, which introduces some complications for me.

While the new system can be set to ring to multiple numbers, the solution that works for me is to have it just ring to a dedicated number of a phone that's sitting in my kitchen. Specifically, for when there's a babysitter over and they need to buzz someone in and the like (i.e. so I don't want it to only ring to my cellphone, I'd like it to ring to this dedicated number).

I think some sort of Google Voice based solution is ideal here. I have a Google Home, but they can't receive calls (at least for now). Is something like Obi200 the right choice here (and then just plug some $5 landline into there?) Is there some simpler solution I'm not thinking of? Anyone else encountered this dilemma before?
posted by jourman2 to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
So you want it to ring this home phone usually, but on occasions that you are out with the kid(s), so no babysitter, you want it to go to your cell phone? You could just plug in a regular phone, then set up call forwarding for those situations (or inversely, generally leave call forwarding on, then only turn it off when your babysitter is there).
posted by solotoro at 9:48 AM on December 11, 2017

The Obi200 and a cheap corded phone will work just fine. And, as long as you don't want 911 service, there are no ongoing charges.
posted by zinon at 9:52 AM on December 11, 2017

How frequently do you have a babysitter and how frequently, when they're there, do they need to buzz someone in? I'd weigh that against the need to buzz people in when you're not there before deciding to go this route; I had the dedicated wall intercom and was so jealous of my friend who had the cell phone type because it came in handy on a surprisingly frequent basis (letting people in to leave packages at her door, letting friends in when she was across the street picking up wine, etc.) -- it might be less annoying to occasionally let the babysitter's pizza delivery in, in the long run.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:27 AM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Obi should do the trick. So would Ooma, but it seems Obi is a little cheaper long-term. (Although I'm not sure how they're evading paying the taxes. I'm pretty sure Ooma wouldn't charge them if they thought they could get away with it. If someone's eating the charges...why?)
posted by praemunire at 11:22 AM on December 11, 2017

(P.S. Obi should be able to ring multiple phones simultaneously, meaning the babysitter can buzz people in and you can still get the buzz yourself while you're away.)
posted by praemunire at 11:23 AM on December 11, 2017

You don't need a landline. What's wrong with a cheap pre-paid burner cell phone (you could almost certainly get an unlocked phone for free from your local Buy Nothing Group). You could leave it plugged into its charger in your kitchen whenever the babysitter is there.
posted by halogen at 9:37 PM on December 11, 2017

You might find this question I recently asked relatively useful.

I'm planning on setting up a cheap VoIP setup - magicjack is $30/year - that can also ring my cell through an app. If you had multiple numbers, you could just set up any VoIP situation and skip the second consideration since you could have it ring your cell separately. Google voice isn't really necessary if you don't need the other features, though it'd work fine.

I wouldn't go with the solely burner phone route, because it sounds like you still do want it to ring your cell even if it rings the home-based phone as well, right? Also, several friends have a burner phone for their buzzer and it's just a little too easy to misplace - having something that's always charged and fixed to the wall is a good idea.
posted by mosst at 6:42 AM on December 12, 2017

I'd also consider whether you'd like your kids to be able to use the buzzer phone to call out, etc., when choosing where and which situation to set up. Depending on how old they are, it might be nice to have something landline-ish for them to access - and it might be worth considering whether or not that phone can call 911 (some VoIP setups can, some can't).
posted by mosst at 6:44 AM on December 12, 2017

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