A New Way Forward for Your Residential Phone System

We all know that residential landline phones are going away. Many clients these days are opting for cellular throughout. However, in larger residences where intercommunications between rooms and house-to-gates access is very important, traditional phone systems like Panasonic are still quite prevalent. My proposition to you today is that there is a better way!

We’ve all heard about Ring doorbells and more recently, Nest Hello has come on the scene. These are fabulous. Seeing who’s at your door, talking to them, recording the interaction has been revolutionary for our modern lifestyle. But what if you have an electric lock? Or a gate that needs to open? Ring and Nest don’t fit the bill.

Enter DoorBird – the cloud based entry phone that can ALSO open locks and gates – and with potential keypad or RFID access to boot. It’s a great option for people who need more from their access system but also appreciate the ability to communicate and record from anywhere. There are other fine brands out there offering a similar solution but we will focus on Doorbird today.

So here you are – Doorbird installed, accessible by cell phone local and remotely – great right? Indeed! Spare one caveat. Doorbird doesn’t work with traditional phone systems like the Panasonic and many people don’t always want to rely on their mobile device once they are at home. This is why so many people still utilize Panasonic for in-house intercom and house-to-gate communications.

Luckily in the recent years, especially commercially, VOIP (Voice Over IP) phone systems have arrived. Most companies use the Polycom phone tied to a month-to-month service plan ‘rented’ from cloud-based service companies like 8×8, RIngCentral or Vonage but these plans often have a hefty monthly fees and don’t make sense residentially.

What these companies ‘rent’ to you is essentially a cloud based phone line and a PBX system (Private Brand Exchange) which is the ‘brains’ of your phone system extensions/voicemail/call forwarding. To set this up residentially is neither cost effective or desirable due to the over-functionality of the offering.

But what if there was a simple PBX ‘brain’ that could reside locally and with minimal programming offer all the functionality of everything combined! Imagine if you had a phone system that cost less than Panasonic with the ability to:

  • Answer the door with video using DoorBird, Nest or Ring
  • Open the door or gate from said phone
  • Control a system like Savant, Crestron, Control4
  • Scan cameras on Camera app for ICRealtime, Hikvision, or others
  • Control Sonos Music players
  • And more!

What these PBX phone systems can be is an Android device masking as a telephone. We recently started using Grandstream systems.

The Brain comes in the form of the UCM series which accept either the traditional POTS lines OR Voice over IP (VOIP) lines rented from a provider. You can ‘rent’ a custom VOIP line from Ring Central for $20/month. The model is determined by the number of incoming lines and outgoing extensions. Typically the smallest – i.e. Grandstream UCM6202 can handle two analog lines (POTS or via cable company), two VOIP Lines and up to 500 Extensions which for the most part will be plenty for any residential system.

The Phones:
Desktop Android Phone has the ability to run apps, speak and see door station etc.

Cordless Phones come in Wifi or traditional RF DECT Style:

RF:  Wifi: 

This system includes all the features you could ever want – VoiceMail / Call Forwarding / Paging / Intercom/ Out-of-office Assistant and so many more. All for less than you would spend on a traditional Panasonic System. For example, a priced out Panasonic Phone system installed and programmed with Voice Mail System, Caller ID – 4 Desktop corded phones and 2 cordless hand-sets comes to right around $8700. A similarly specified Grandstream system with Android phones capable of so much more comes to $4300. Less than half!!

So there you have it. We have entered the future and can never go back. It’s been nice knowing you Panasonic!