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Naturally, access control is not restricted to gate motors and, in fact, intercoms form an integral part of the home automation mix.  As part of our feature on faultfinding and diagnostics, we offer you some tips on getting the most from your intercom system.

Many of us who have intercoms at home or at work have become accustomed to the voice on the other end being garbled, distant or unclear.  Oftentimes intercom speech quality can be improved by performing a few simple checks and alterations, enabling you to get the most out of your intercom system.  Most of these checks require at least some technical knowledge, but with a standard AVO meter and a little know-how, you too can get crystal clear speech from your intercom.

Some things to check for are:

  • What is being used to supply power to the intercom?

For the sake of convenience, many installers power the intercom straight from the gate motor power supply (assuming, of course, that you have a gate motor installed).  This is not a bad practice, but some gate motors use so-called “switch-mode” power supplies which may cause interference on an intercom line.  Such power supplies usually have the letters “SM” printed on their identification labels.  In such cases, you or your installer need simply fit a smoothing capacitor between the common and earth connections.  This should dramatically increase speech quality.

  • Is your power supply properly earthed?

Bad earthing is a major bugaboo when it comes to distorted intercom speech.  Ensure that there is a clear path to earth, i.e. the power supply ground is attached to a piece of metal. If you are powering your intercom directly from a gate motor, one tried and true trick of the trade is to wire the power supply earth to a common connection on the gate motor’s controller.

  • At what level is the volume dial?

An oft-overlooked factor is the volume level, both on the side of the handset and gate station.  If the volume setting is too high, the tiny microphone will pick up background noise and this will in turn be deposited right into your eardrum!  Turn it down!

  • Is the microphone/speaker insulated?

The microphone and speaker are the two vital components that make the transfer of sound possible in intercom systems.  If either or both of these components are allowed to short-circuit against metal surfaces (such as the inside of the intercom housing), speech quality will be adversely affected.  Most intercoms are supplied with sponge or rubber grommets that are meant to insulate the dynamic duo that is the microphone and speaker.  Make sure the grommets are intact and that all supply wires are also sufficiently insulated.

Happy buzzing!

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