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How Do Apartment Call Boxes Work?

How Do Apartment Call Boxes Work?

Installing an apartment call box system doesn’t have to be expensive. The best apartment call boxes don’t require hardware and leverage residents’ smartphones.

Laura Flowers
February 23, 2023

For property managers and residents alike, security is paramount. Apartment call boxes allow properties to be reasonably accessible to visitors without compromising security.  There are many considerations to take into account when choosing the best apartment call box for your property. 

While most apartment call boxes on the market are expensive, hardware-based systems, modern technology has opened the door for low-cost wireless call boxes that are both easier to use and offer the security your residents expect.

What is an Apartment Call Box?

An apartment call box is an access control device that allows visitors to request entry from residents or property managers. Apartment call boxes ensure multifamily properties maintain security while allowing residents an easy way to grant access to their guests.

That said, not all apartment call boxes are created equal. There are many different types of apartment call boxes. Older models that use things like intercoms and keypads were once the norm, but they’re expensive and not as user-friendly for residents and visitors.

Many property management companies are turning to modern apartment call boxes that are app-based. Not only are these easier for residents and guests to use, but they cost tens of thousands of dollars less than hardware-heavy models.

How Do Apartment Call Boxes Work?

There are a variety of call boxes on the market, but for our purposes, let’s separate them between hardware-based systems and wireless systems.

Hardware-Based Apartment Call Boxes

Keypad entry, intercom systems, and video callboxes are three of the most common types of access control hardware you’ll see at multifamily properties:

Keypad entry - Visitors use a shared four-digit code given to them by a resident. The major drawback to this is that codes can be leaked over time and result in security issues. Consider the rise of delivery drivers in the last decade. Millions of entry codes have been distributed to relatively unknown visitors. 

Intercom systems - Intercom call boxes use speakers, microphones, and sometimes cameras to connect visitors with residents. Residents can speak to visitors via the intercom in their unit. Aside from the added expense of putting intercoms in each unit, these systems don’t allow residents to provide remote access when needed.

While both systems have been a standard in apartment call box technology in the past, they can be cumbersome for residents, guests, and property managers alike. They also require huge investments and ongoing costs, as well as frequent service calls.

Wireless Apartment Call Boxes

On a basic level, wireless apartment call boxes work similarly to hardware-based systems—only better. Instead of passing around gate codes or dealing with intercoms, residents can download a smartphone app to manage visitor access. 

With a wireless system like OpenVia’s Virtual Callbox, visitors scan a QR code at the entry point, search for a resident’s name, and start a video call. Residents can speak to the visitor and press a button to let them inside. This hassle-free way of managing visitors also has an added bonus to the resident: remote access. Whether it’s a delivery driver or a visiting family member, on-the-go residents can provide secure entry to the building anywhere, anytime.

Three Key Benefits to Wireless Apartment Call Boxes

1. Low Upfront Cost

Instead of making a huge dent in your net operating income (NOI), wireless apartment call boxes don’t require the purchase of expensive hardware and costs like warranties and hidden maintenance fees. 

A solution like OpenVia’s Virtual Callbox can save you tens of thousands of dollars in hardware and offer transparent pricing. You’re only charged a low monthly fee per unit. Not only are you making life easier for you and your residents, but you’re also maximizing NOI with a simple, yet powerful tool.

2. Retrofit Devices and Fast Onboarding

Instead of uninstalling and reinstalling hard-wired systems, you can easily upgrade to a wireless apartment call box with a retrofit device. For example, OpenVia’s Virtual Callbox works with any existing access control systems.

A technician can install a retrofit device that connects to your property’s WiFi in less than ten minutes. Once signage is installed at the entryway, your residents can download the Virtual Callbox app and begin using it immediately. 

3. Secure, App-Based Access

When choosing an apartment call box system, you’re looking for a solution that is equally easy to use and secure. Wireless apartment call boxes give you and your residents the best of both worlds.

By using a wireless apartment call box with video call technology, residents can ensure they’re only providing access to individuals they trust. As added security, systems like Virtual Callbox also keep a record of the time, date, and tenant’s name for each entry. 


OpenVia’s Virtual Callbox provides smart access to your buildings that’s simple and secure!  Schedule a demo with our team to learn more!

Laura Flowers

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