Recommend a door buzzer system for a boutique condo building
September 6, 2021 2:44 PM   Subscribe

I live in a small condo building (>10 units) and the association has tasked me with replacing our 20-year-old doorbell/building access system. SOS! There are tons of options out there. I don't know where to start. Ideally I'd want a one-and-done installation without recurring fees, and the simpler the better. Security and reliability are paramount and I'm not convinced an app-based system is the answer (but please prove me wrong if needed). Thanks so much for your recommendations.
posted by lecorbeau to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would start by surveying and understanding what's currently there, why it doesn't meet needs, and what the requirements are.

For instance are there existing wire runs to each unit from a central location? Do you want people to be able to open the door for guests when they're away from home or not? Do you need it to keep records?

It sounds like you are lost because you haven't been told what problem you're solving except "it's old" and that is not really the thing you're fixing is it?
posted by fritley at 4:38 PM on September 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

My coop building on the UWS recently installed a video door-opening system. Previously we had a badly functioning audio system. DM me if you would like more info.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:44 PM on September 6, 2021

You have a couple levels of access.

* ring only
* ring and interactive audio (usually, calls a designated phone number) but multi-unit
* ring and interactive video (aka video doorbell) but multi-unit
* sophisticated entry system with video/audio system (see above) plus carrier code, access code, one-time code, and so on

There will be maintenance fees as companies want to charge you ongoing "updates" of the resident directory and stuff. And the stuff have to be pretty vandal proof and weather proof if left at the exterior of the building. So it won't be "cheap".

You need to talk to a local vendor who can show you the different levels of system available in your local market and then you can have an idea of what's available at what price point. "Door King" is probably one of the better known systems and their "Find a Dealer" button should take you to a local dealer.
posted by kschang at 4:50 PM on September 6, 2021

You might poke around a few other buildings nearby, get some installers who will quote you on a system, installation, and what the maintenance costs are. Let them do some of this legwork for you.
posted by nickggully at 7:42 PM on September 6, 2021

Just as a matter of security: using an app is only as secure as the app is written to be, and as secure as the password any resident uses. You will need to test, test, and test again to make sure password requirements are strong enough, and the way the user uses it easy enough, to avoid users making up crappy passwords because other security measures are "too hard". I think ideally some sort of 'rolling code' thing similar to what garage door openers use would be better, but with one rolling code per resident, not for the whole building.

Just things to think about, from a background that included computer security, I am not a condo access or door security expert.
posted by TimHare at 8:40 PM on September 6, 2021

My building has a no-audio system where people key in my (unique) code, which rings my phone, then I key in a number and it automatically buzzes them in. I *really* wish our system had a way to grant people access with a unique code (for friends who visit often) as well as one-time (for delivery people).
posted by cyndigo at 3:12 PM on September 7, 2021

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