An important part of securing your business is controlling who gets into your building, which doors they can open, and when they are allowed in. This is the first line of defence against thieves, intruders, and potential employee misconduct.

Historically this was accomplished through keys and locks. However, they don’t restrict key holders to specific dates and times.  Further, you cannot control the key from being duplicated, and it’s expensive to re-key your building when it gets lost.

What is an Access Control System?

Access control systems use software and hardware to control entry to your business and throughout your building. Instead of a key, employees are assigned a credential, typically a card, fob, code, or even a finger. The software restrictions are placed on the credential based on areas, times, and access levels.

The system can also monitor the door and notify you through email, or a local buzzer, when the door is forced open or held open for too long.

Also referred to as a key fob System, there are different types of access control systems.  Some are meant for small businesses, while others, with more advanced features, are used for large corporations.

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When an Electric Strike or Maglock won’t cut it

Electrified door hardware connects to the output on the access control panel and unlocks due to “access granted.” Unlike card readers, which are visible and interactive with users, electrified door hardware often goes unnoticed. That being said, without them, the access control panel has no way of releasing a door.

Choosing the right electrified door hardware for your access control system involves several factors. Most important is the type of opening, existing door hardware, life safety, and building codes.

Maglocks and door strikes are the most commonly used electrified door hardware for an access control system. That being said, what are some alternatives, and when would you need them?

Electronic Bolts

Electronic bolts are similar to standard deadbolts, except they are controlled electronically and connected to the rest of your security system. Like a deadbolt, these locks have hardened steel bolts that can be retracted into the door’s frame.

Electronic Bolt

When the bolt is engaged, the door cannot open, but once the bolt receives a signal, it retracts, and the door can open. However, unlike a deadbolt, these locks can be located on any side of a door frame.

Electronic bolts are recommended for high-security interior doors and cabinets. They can typically be found on sliding doors, installed on the top frame. Alternatively, they can be installed in the door jamb to secure a regular door.

When combined with an electric strike, the electronic bolt provides additional security on a door. For example, when the building is empty, the access control system can engage the electronic bolt to ensure that that door won’t open.

Electronic Lockset

Electronic bolt locks and electric strikes work in tandem for greater security. Electronic locksets contain everything required to create a self-contained, fully functioning locking system. This includes an electric latch or bolt that releases to allow the door to open. Further, they can also include a card reader or number pad for authenticating entry.

Wireless Electronic Lockset

Unlike electric strikes or maglocks, which mount to the door frame, Electronic Locksets replace existing door hardware and are mounted to the door. For this reason, they are difficult to power up and often come with battery packs.

Wireless electronic locks are becoming popular because they can be networked and added to your access control system. These types of locks make it easy to add doors to your access control system, especially when running cable to the door is difficult or impossible.

There are many different types of electronic locksets because of the variety of possible features and how they can be combined.

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Electronic Gate Lock

Locking an outdoor gate with an electric strike is very difficult, and although a maglock may work, it’s not ideal for some outdoor applications. For this reason, special electronic gate locks are a better option.

Gate locks, such as this one from GateLok, are designed for manual or automatic chain link gates.

Electronic Gate Lock

The “receiver” or “latch” connects to the “door,” which slides or swings open. On the fence, the main electrified hardware is mounted and wired back to the panel. When access is granted, the “latch” is released, allowing the gate to open.

Electric Cabinet Locks

Electric Cabinet Locks

Assa Abloy, one of the largest suppliers of electrified door hardware, has a wide variety of electric cabinet locks.

For low to medium-security, you can choose a solution such as the HES K Series Cabinet Locks.  There are stand-alone battery power locks that come with built-in readers or keypads.

For higher security, a data center cabinet, for example, a server cabinet lock such as the HES KS Series, can be used. These can be wired back to the access control panel and release when access is granted on a card reader.

Specialty maglocks, such as the Secutron Magnetic Cabinet Lock, are also an option when adding a cabinet or cage to your access control system.

Important: Fail Safe vs. Fail Secure

All electrified hardware is set up to be either Fail Safe and Fail Secure. These are important terms used to describe the behaviour of electrified door hardware when power is removed.

When fail-safe locks lose power, they default to an unsecured position. For example, a power outage would result in an unlocked front door with a fail-safe lock. Although there are many fail-safe locks, the most common is a maglock or magnetic door lock.

On the other hand, when fail-secure locks lose power, they default to a locked or secure position. The result is a door that’s kept locked. The most common fail-secure lock is an electric strike.

Always remember that people need to be able to exit a space easily. This is very important when you implement an access control system and is especially true when you choose the electrified door hardware.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy the piece I wrote on electric strikes, or this one on maglocks. Feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions or if you need help designing an Access Control System for your business. If you’re thinking of getting an access control system, you’ll want to download our Ultimate Access Control Guide to be very useful. It outlines all the components of an access control system and will help you budget for the right system.