Door Access Control Systems
Access control systems allow authorized individuals safe and secure entry in and out of business while keeping unauthorized people out. These systems can range from electronic keypads that secure a single door to a large networked systems for multiple buildings. Access control systems make managing your facility easy by alleviating the stresses of replacing lost keys, tracking old keys from terminated employees, or wondering who exactly has access to particular areas.
When considering your door access control system ask yourself two questions: (1) What purpose serve? And (2) What size access system will your business need?
The Purpose of Your Door Access Control System
The most basic function of an access control system is to prevent entry of anyone who is not supposed to be in the area. These areas can be the front door, park garage, a server room, or personnel records room. Tracking employees’ entry and exits is another major function of an access control system. One might also want to consider: how secure do you need the system to be? Basic systems may have a keypad or swipe card. Higher security applications may require multiple means of entry such as a card in conjunction with a thumbprint.
The Size of Your Door Access Control System
After establishing the general role of your access control system, one must also consider the size or how many doors you need to secure. A small installation may have just one: a server room with an electronic keypad lock. Once you know the number of doors that need to be secured, collect information on each one. The physical makeup and use of your doors determines the type of locks and entry systems you need. Some other questions you should consider when considering the size of your access control system:
- Are some doors for customers, and some for employees?
- What is the physical makeup of the door? (wood, steel, aluminum or glass)
- Are any of which fire doors?
- Do any garage or parking lot gates need access control?
The two major distinctions in access control systems are free exits and controlled exit systems. Free exit systems allow individuals to freely exit with no requirement. These type of systems can detect someone approaching an exit (through motion detectors) and unlocks the door, or has a release button or bar that allows people to exit. A controlled exit system requires the use of the same security for entering and exiting the area. For example, an employee will have to enter a code to get in or out of the secure area.
Design Your Access Control System
There are five basic factors to consider when designing your access control system:
-  How are authorized users going to identify themselves and/or unlock doors from the secure side (in a free exit system)
-  How are users going to have free egress from the interior out?
- What type of locking device is best to secure the door?
- How are you going to manage the interaction between entry devices, egress devices and locking devices with the controller?
-  What type of specific requirements such as (audit tracking, time based opening of doors, battery back-up) might need to be considered?
 Door Access Control Entry Devices
Your locking system needs to have a lock released by a physical object such as a key, fingerprint, stand-alone lock, or combination of any or all. The following are forms of access control entry devices:
Stand-Alone Locks – an “all-in-one” access control system for a single-door. This type of lock is powered by replaceable internal batteries and can be unlocked by keypad, proximity card or a combination. A simple installation can be done within minutes, however these lock systems are not part of a broader network.
- Proximity Readers- this is the most popular in commercial access control because they are easy to use. Reactivation and deactivation of cards is a simple process. Proximity cards can be read from one to three inches away from the sensor, preventing wear and tear. They are fairly inexpensive and can be combined with photo ID for additional security.
- Keyswitches- are physical keys to activate a lock that offer electronic auditing through a network
- Keypads- a system which allows authorized users to input an entry code. These are easy to use but less secure. Some users have a tendency write down security codes and “lend” it to others.
- Biometric systems- systems in which authorized users must rely on their physical characteristics such as their handprints, fingerprints or retinal scans to enter a secured area. These are the most expensive access control systems and offer the most security.
 Door Access Control Egress Devices
Door access control egress devices enable users to exit a secure door. The following are forms of door access control egress devices:
- Push-To-Exit Buttons-Buttons that are mounted on the wall near the exit point. Depressing the button releases the door.
- Push Bars-bars that are usually attached across the inside of the door. Pressing against the bar releases the latch, allowing employees to exit.
- Emergency Exits- exits attached on a wall near the exit point. These come in two main types: ‘break-glass’ model and pull down handle.
- Motion sensors-these detect a vehicle or person approaching an exit and unlock the door.
- Delayed Egress function- a device with a set timer that gives “x” amount of seconds to release the latch opening of the door.
[C] Door Access Control Locking Devices
This is the actual physical security barrier. These come in the following forms:
- Magnetic Locks-A locking device that consists of an electromagnet and armature plate. These systems are easy to install and offer a higher degree of strength compared to conventional door locks. Magnetic locks requires a constant power source, so security may be a concern if the power source is disrupted.
- Electric Strikes-a ramped surface that allows the door to close. These come in two basic configurations: fail-secure and fail-safe. A fail-secure allows the strike to open when an electric current is applied. In a fail-safe, applying an electric current to the strike will cause it to lock.
- Electric Deadbolts- mounted bolt locks for high security interior door and cabinet applications. These are available in failsafe and fail secure modes.
- Magnetic Shear Locks-provide superior failsafe holding force. These help ensure that the door seamlessly locks and releases.
 Door Access Control Software
Door access control software enables you to control your entire access control system. Some of its features may include: accessing levels for each ID and door, viewing reports, and conducting audits to see when a door was used at a certain time. It is important that the software is easy to understand in order to alleviate administrative headaches. One popular software system to consider is Cobra Controls, a high quality graphical interface based on Microsoft.
 Door Access Control Features
Some options and features one might consider:
- Timing-setting specific times when a door should lock and unlock
- Tracking-observing reports for any level of detail you need
- Battery backup-ensures your premises are secure, even during a power failure.
- Template Layouts-changing permissions for different door using a graphic blueprint of your building.
- Badge printing- a specialized printer that can create new access cards as needed
Selecting Your Vendor and Pricing Tips
When selecting your door access control manufacturer and vendor, be sure to select a vendor that is large enough, stable and that can respond to your needs in a timely manner. A good vendor will ask plenty of questions to help design a solution that best fit your needs. If possible, select a vendor that has experience in your industry and is able to provide ongoing support and integrates it with any other related systems already installed. A high-quality vendor will provide a lifetime support for products.
Pricing and estimates can be a complex process but there only a few things to keep in mind when selecting the best price plan. Generally, a complete keypad or card-based access control system for a single door is typically $1500 to $2500 for installation. These prices include the hardware, software, and installation. The per-door pricing usually lowers with the more doors you add to your system. If you choose to do-it-yourself, prices can drop within the $500 to $1500 per door. A biometric system such as iris scanning are much more expensive and can reach $10,000 or more.
Door access control systems allow you to manage your security system and easily make adjustments without the stresses of lost keys. These control systems offer your business higher security with ease and efficiency. Customizing your own door access control system can save your business time, while securing your property and employees.