If you’ve decided to replace your older home intercom system, such as one of the NuTone or M&S System models that date back to the 1950s, then you have made a smart choice. You are one of many people that have chosen to upgrade their intercoms and enjoy the advanced features found in the newer models.
Now the next big decision for you is to select the correct components needed to complete your upgrade. Make sure you have all the right parts before you get started. You don’t want to be in the middle of your installation only to discover you are missing a key item or have an incompatible part. The results could affect your timeline or change your budget – and would just be plain aggravating.
Based on the thousands of happy customers that our technical support and customer service teams have helped with this very same process – from simple retrofits to frustrating installs – Home Controls has put together an easy-to-follow guide that explains what you need to purchase before you get started, with a few secrets-of-the-trade alternatives and options.
The greatest advantage to an upgrade or retrofit installation is that you can use your existing wires from your current home intercom system. You’ll need to first determine how many wires your system uses so you can order the compatible replacement parts. If you need more detailed instructions, then read our blog titled How Many Wires Are In Your Old NuTone or M&S Intercom System?
Important: You’ll need to know your current wiring configuration before you purchase your new retrofit intercom system.
Once you determine how many wires you currently use, your first big purchase decision is going to be which new intercom model you want to invest in. There are three replacement systems – NuTone, M&S Systems, and Intrasonic Technologies (IST) – all available from Home Controls. We’ve covered all the features of each of these systems in our blog How to Replace Your Old NuTone or M&S Intercom System.
The new NuTone Master Station, Room Station, Patio Station and Door Station (left to right).
You won’t be able to keep any existing system parts except for the wire, because the older systems are not compatible with the new models. To replace your entire system successfully, make sure you purchase the same number of components your current system uses, including:
- Master Station: A master station is the brains of your home intercom system. You’ll need only one.
- Room Stations: This second required part to an intercom system is the individual intercom unit that goes in each room. Purchase a new one for each existing room station.
- Patio Station (Optional): A patio station is almost identical to a room station, but it is build to go outdoors – usually in a patio (thus its name) where only your family has access. Not all intercom systems are built with patio stations, so you might not need one. If you do have one, then purchase a new one for each existing patio station.
- Door Station (Optional): A door station – also called a door speaker – allows visitors outside your door to talk to your family inside your home. As with patio stations, not all intercom systems have a door station. If you do have one, then purchase a new one for each existing door station.
When you make your purchase, check out the various color options. Most sellers only offer white, which is the most common and most popular color. However, all new intercom brands also come in Black and Almond. Door stations also come in a variety of metallic finishes to give your home the ideal curb appeal. Home Controls carries all color options.
What About Video? The latest intercom technology features video communication between the front door and the master station, and sometimes between room stations. A retrofit system, however, will not support video. The wires you are using from your older model only supply voice communication and cannot provide video. There are many advantages to video intercom systems; however, the disadvantage is you would need to completely replace your wiring.
This is a commonly forgotten component. You’ll need to purchase new installation brackets, also known as rough-in kits, for your new intercom master station. The new intercom stations are different sizes and do not perfectly fit into the older-generation brackets.
IST Advantage: The IST RETRO home intercom system offers an easier installation option than the NuTone or M&S replacement models. Instead of purchasing an entirely new master station installation bracket, order the IST Master Adaptor Metal Bracket. These special brackets allow you to install an IST RETRO master station in your existing master station bracket – a great money saver!
You might also need to purchase new installation brackets for your room, patio and door stations. However, you might be able to use the existing station’s rough-in kit if you are using a compatible Retrofit Frame.
Modern intercoms use an upgraded power configuration, so you may also need to purchase a new transformer. This is the intercom’s power supply and usually comes pre-installed in the newer installation brackets.
Retrofit Frames (Optional)
No more bulky and clunky intercoms! Just about all the new generation intercom systems feature a smaller, sleek design. But what do you do with the big hole in your wall when you take out your older intercom components?
One option is to cover the hole with new drywall. Aesthetically, this is more popular since it allows your intercom to better fit into your home’s decor. However, not everyone has the required construction or handyman skills.
Size comparison between the old NuTone ISA449 and IS419 Room Stations (on the left) and the new NuTone Room Station, with and without a Retrofit Frame (on the right).
The other option is to purchase what we call retrofit frames. These are stylish plastic enclosures that cover the large hole left by your older intercom and feature a custom mount that fits the new intercom. They are available for master stations, room stations, patio stations and door stations, and even come in matching colors for a seamless match.
Helpful Hint: Make sure your new component actually needs a retrofit frame before purchasing one. Most do, however, there are a few larger models that do not.
These are the basic components for upgrading your old home intercom system. There are several advanced features available with newer models that are not covered here, including CD players, chime modules, MP3 players, speakers and more. We encourage you to review our Home Intercom System categories to browse all your options available through Home Controls – or just give our friendly customer service department a call at 800-266-8765.