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VoIP Hardware

VoIP hardware refers to any of the actual devices or equipment that you will need to complete your VoIP system. This could include.

  • VoIP phones
  • Webcams and conferencing tools
  • IP fax machines
  • Adapters and gateways
  • VoIP accessories
  • VoIP PBX hardware
  • Switches and other networking tools
  • VoIP alarm and security systems

Whether you need VoIP equipment for a residential or business VoIP system, there is a wide variety of products and VoIP hardware providers for you to choose from.

Residential VoIP Hardware

If you are buying hardware for a residential VoIP system, start by evaluating the equipment you already have. If you already have a few phones or a fax machine, you may still be able to use them with your VoIP system. If your equipment is digital, then there’s no problem. But if your phones or fax machine are analog devices (and if they’re older devices, they’re more likely to be analog), you may need to replace them or get an adapter.

Analog phones can’t process digital data like VoIP calls. With an adapter, they may be compatible with a VoIP system, but it’s worth noting that many VoIP service providers report sound quality issues with phones connected through adapters. So if you hear any static or buzzing sounds during your phone calls, then you may be better off replacing your analog phones with IP digital phones.

If you also plan to use your VoIP service for video calls, you may be interested in looking into webcams and other VoIP accessories like camera phones and new monitors.

VoIP Equipment for Residential VoIP:

  • VoIP phones
  • IP fax machines
  • Adapters
  • VoIP accessories

Business VoIP Hardware

If you are buying hardware for a business VoIP system, then you will need to evaluate your office computers, phones, and fax machines. If they are digital, you can use them with a VoIP system, but if they are analog, you will need to consider replacing them or getting gateways and adapters.

You will also need to consider your office PBX. If you have a business VoIP plan, you have the option to discard your old PBX machine in favor of a VoIP hosted PBX. However, if you want to continue using your old PBX, but you still want to use Internet telephoning, you will have to look into SIP trunking.

SIP Trunking

SIP trunking is a VoIP service whereby you connect an analog PBX and analog office equipment to the Internet so that you can use VoIP service without replacing lots of devices. This process is a bit more complicated than using an adapter for a single phone, so you may want to read some of our other articles on SIP trunking before buying any equipment.

VoIP Equipment for Businesses

  • VoIP phones and conferencing tools
  • IP fax machines
  • Adapters and gateways
  • VoIP accessories
  • VoIP PBX hardware
  • Switches and other networking tools

Specific VoIP Hardware Details

VoIP Phones and Conferencing Tools

VoIP phones range from very basic corded phones to more advanced devices with multiple speakers or video components. A very basic corded VoIP phone starts around $45, and more advanced phones, (usually meant for businesses that do a lot of conference calling), like the Yamaha P JP-50USB, can go for as much as $1100.

More basic corded phones are most appropriate for use in the home. You can also get very simple cordless phones.

There is a wide range of IP business phones. There are basic multi-feature IP phones like Cisco’s SPA300 series with basic functions like call waiting and call forwarding. These phones generally run between $57 and $85.

Then there are more advanced phones like the Cisco SPA500 series. These are usually full-featured SIP enabled phones, meaning they can be completely integrated into the VoIP system of a large company. Extra features on these phones include a larger number of lines (up to 12) and WiFi connection. These phones generally cost between $60 and $300.

Some businesses may also need conference phones. These are much more elaborate phones that may have multiple speakers, or built in cameras to better facilitate telephone conferencing. These phones usually have multiple lines and call conferencing features that allow you to speak over several lines at once. Cisco’s IP Conference station 7937G (around $575) is an example of this sort of phone.

Other conferencing tools include speakers and webcams which you may want to use to enhance your video conference clarity and sound.

Prices can range for conferencing tools. For example, a new set of Cisco MX300 conferencing screens can cost $23,460, while a small webcam attachment for a computer can cost as little as $57 for a Logitech B525, and even less for some simpler cameras.

IP Fax Machines

To use VoIP or IP faxing, you don’t actually need to have a fax machine. However, if you feel more comfortable using an actual fax machine for your Internet faxing, new IP fax machines start around $110 and range as high as $2000.

Adapters and Gateways

Adapters are very useful if you have just a few analog devices that you want to be able to use with your new VoIP system. Adapters can be very cheap, as low as $30 for a small adapter like a Grandstream HT502 (which works for 2 devices at once). Smaller adapters usually can’t accommodate more than 4 lines. For example, a more expensive adapter like the AT&T Synapse SB67050 Analog Terminal Adapter (which costs $249) only accommodates 2 devices, but includes lots of features like voicemail support, paging, and on-hold music. A gateway device is a specific kind of adapter that connects an analog device to your LAN (Local Area Network, like Ethernet or WiFi). Gateways can usually accommodate more lines than a smaller adapter, usually up to 48 lines. They can range from about $60 to over $1000.

VoIP Accessories

VoIP accessories may refer to a wide range of products including:

  • Computer monitors
  • Cords,cables, and wires
  • Headsets
  • Webcams
  • Brackets and wall mounts

Essentially, a VoIP accessory is any miscellaneous device that you would use to improve your VoIP system.

PBX Hardware

Today, many people are choosing hosted PBXs. Business VoIP providers usually feature a hosted PBX as part of their basic packages. A hosted PBX has all of the same features as a traditional PBX machine without the need for a manual operator or expensive machinery.

However, if you don’t want to buy a business VoIP service but you still want to use Internet telephony, then you can buy PBX hardware to adapt your PBX for an Internet connection. Or you can build your own IP PBX to serve an office or to connect an office to the PSTN (the public switched telephone network, the system behind traditional analog telephone service).

As we said before, if you already have an old PBX, a SIP trunking service should be able to help you connect that PBX for VoIP calling.

Switches and Networking Tools

A switch is necessary for transferring calls from one line to another. Switches range in price depending on the number of devices they can accommodate. Prices start around $25 and range as high as $9000.

One important switch to note is the PoE, or Power over Ethernet switch. This switch connects your power source directly to your Ethernet which will improve your Ethernet’s performance.

In addition to physical switches, you can also get softswitches, software systems which perform the same functions as these hardware switches.

“Networking tools” is a broad term that refers to the equipment you use to build up a VoIP system. In addition to switches, networking tools include routers, edge devices, and other accessories.

Routers connect your LAN to your various Internet-capable devices.

Edge devices protect your devices and your network from viruses and other security breaches.

VoIP Alarms and Security Systems

VoIP security systems are security cameras and sensors that are operated over Internet service, rather than a traditional phone line.

VoIP alarm systems may include bells, alarms, buzzers, pagers, and loudspeakers, all of which can be easily programmed and managed over the Internet.