Door Access Control Systems Buyer's Guide and How To Manual
Door Access Control Systems Buyer's Guide and How To Manual
Introduction to Door Access Control Systems
Access control systems provide authorized individuals safe and secure access in and out of various parts of your business while keeping unauthorized people out. They can range from electronic keypads that secure a single door to large networked systems for multiple buildings. Access Systems also greatly simplify management of your facility: no need to replace lost keys, hunt down old keys from terminated employees, or wonder who has access to which areas.
Spend a couple minutes framing the following two questions; (1) What purpose will your door access control service serve? and (2) What size access system will your business need?
1. What purpose will your Door Access Control system serve?
To start, sit down and determine the purpose the access control system will serve. The most basic role of an access control system is to keep out anyone who is not supposed to enter an area. This can be the front door, a parking garage, a server room, a personnel records room, or any other sensitive area. You may also want to use an access control system to track when employees come and go. Another point to consider: how secure do you need the system to be? A basic system usually features a keypad or swipe card. Higher security applications may require multiple means of authentication (a card and thumbprint, for example) and include more redundancy. Finally, consider what other systems need to connect to your access control system. Monitored alarm systems and CCTV systems are two good examples.
2. What size access system will your business need?
Next, once you understand the general role the access control system will serve, think about the number of doors you need to secure. Smaller installations may include just one: a server room with an electronic keypad lock is a common example of a very small access control system. Remember that not every door has to have access control; you can simply leave some locked and only give keys to appropriate personnel. If you plan ahead a little when purchasing your system, you should find it fairly easy to expand later. The smallest systems, designed for one or two doors, are not very expandable, but many four and eight door systems can be linked together when you need to expand. Once you know the number of doors you will be securing, gather information on each one: the physical makeup and use of your doors will impact the type of locks and entry systems you need. Here are some additional questions to help frame your thinking.
Selecting the components [Design your door access control system]
There are several components and multiple options to consider when building and designing a security access control system. However, if you keep in mind five basic ingredients, the process is fairly straight forward.
[A] First you need a way for authorized users to identify themselves and/or unlock the door from the secure side (in a free exit system)
[B] Second, you need a way for all users to have free egress from the interior out
[C] Third, you need a locking device to secure the door
[D] Fourth, you need a controller to manage the interaction between entry devices, egress devices and locking devices
[E] Fifth, you need to consider specific requirements for your system (audit tracking, time based opening or doors, battery back-up)
That's it. That is the basic model, for each point of entry or exit, ask yourself; [A] How will I get in?, [B] How will I get out?, [C] What locking device will secure the entry point?, [D] How will the system be controlled? and [E] What other functionality do I need? Applying these questions to each entry point is how the system design process works. Now, let's review some of the options related to each of the five questions.
[A] Door Access Control Entry Devices [ How will I get in? ]
In all locking systems, the secure lock needs to be released by a physical object (such as a stand-alone lock, Key, Combination or fingerprint) or a combination of any or all. Examples include; Proximity readers, Keyswitch, Digital Keypads, and biometric readers (fingerprints). These devices are mounted on the exterior (secured side) either on the casing of the door (mullion mount) or on the wall near the door (gang mount). Examples of Entry Device types follow. 'Clicking' on any of the device photos will open a new window with direct access to pricing, and product datasheets for further and more detailed reference.
|Stand-Alone Lock||Proximity Reader||Keyswitch||Keypad||Biometric|
|Proximity Card Access||Card Access||Key Access||Numeric Combination Access||Fingerprint Access|
[B] Door Access Control Egress Devices [ How will I get out? ]
To ensure free pass to exit a secure door, all locking systems include a quick exit device. Examples include; push-to-exit buttons, request-to exit bars, motion detectors, emergency (break-glass) exit and Time delayed exit. These buttons are mounted in the interior, on the casing surrounding the door (mullion mount) or on a wall near the door (gang mount). Examples of Egress Device types follow. 'Clicking' on any of the device photos will open a new window with direct access to pricing, and product datasheets for further and more detailed reference.
|Push-To-Exit Button||Push Bar||Emergency Release||Motion Sensors||Delayed Egress|
|Push Button Exit||Push Bar Exit||Emergency Exit||Motion Activated Exit||Time Delayed Exit|
[C] Door Access Control Locking Devices [ How will I Secure the Door? ]
In all locking systems, the locking device represents the physical security barrier. Locking devices include Magnetic Locks (Maglocks), Electric strikes, Deadbolts, Magnetic Shear Locks and Electrified locksets. These devices are mounted on the door and door casing. Examples of Locking Device types follow. 'Clicking' on any of the device photos will open a new window with direct access to pricing, and product datasheets for further and more detailed reference.
|Electromagnetic Lock||Electric Strike||Electric Deadbolt||Magnetic Shear Lock||Electrified Lockset|
[D] Door Access Control Software [ How will I Control the System? ]
One of the biggest differences between competing access control systems is the computer software used to run them. The software lets you set access levels for each ID and door, view reports, and conduct audits to see who used a door at a certain time. Make sure the software is easy to understand and use: access control systems should decrease administrative headaches, not introduce new ones. Ask for a demonstration of the software and see how easy it is to add new employees, change access levels, create groups, and find detailed reports.
Match the software with your computers operating system carefully: some access control systems only work with specific versions of Windows or other operating systems, so know exactly what OS you are running before finalizing your decision.
Most access control system software is powerful enough to handle the needs of companies up to at least a thousand users. When you start needing to manage multiple shifts, several thousand employees, and hundreds of doors, you drastically increase the overall complexity. At that level, you will likely want ODBC‐ compliant (Open DataBase Connectivity) software that can connect to your existing payroll, time and attendance, and other HR and security systems.
Enclosed is a link to Cobra Controls quick start software guide. Cobra Controls build a high quality graphical interface based on Microsoft .Net. It's a good read and should give you a broad understanding of the functionality available from good quality access control software. Also, Cobra Controls is open source and the actual software is available for download to test. The links are as follows:
|Cobra Controls Access Software Overview||Cobra Controls ACP Series Quick Start Guide||Cobra Controls v1.3 .Net Software|
[E] Door Access Control Features [ What options and features are available?]
Timing - lets you set specified times when a door should lock and unlock. Particularly useful for doors that are open to the public at some times but only to employees at others.
Tracking - Any computerized access control system will do some basic tracking of usage. Check out the available reports and see if they provide the level of detail you need.
Battery backup - keeps your premises secure for hours, even during a power failure.
Template layouts - lets you create a graphic blueprint of your building and point and click your way around to change permissions for different doors.
Badge printing - The vendor may be able to supply a specialized printer so you can create new cards as needed, with or without photos.
For some types of access control systems, you may also want voice communication capabilities, such as an intercom or a telephone‐entry system. A simple intercom allows visitors to talk to a central control booth. Telephone‐entry systems, common in large apartment buildings, allow visitors to dial a specific unit to request entry and let residents unlock the door using their phone.
Ready to "Build Your Door System" Get Started below!
|Computerized Door Access Control Kit||Computerized Door Access Control Kit||Computerized Door Access Control Kit|
Other Areas to Consider
Choosing a Door Access Control Manufacturer and Vendor
As with any major business purchase, it is worth taking the time to ask a lot of questions when choosing an access control manufacturer and support vendor. You want a vendor who is large enough to be stable and provide timely customer support when you need it, yet small enough to be responsive to your needs. Flexibility is also important: the vendor should be able to adjust to your specific requirements. The best vendors will ask you questions as well. They will walk you through the specification process and help you design the solution that best fits your needs. They do not need to see your facility, but they may ask you to send digital pictures of specific entry points. Avoid vendors who have the perfect system for you; after five minutes of conversation; and by the way, it is on sale this week only!
Most access control vendors work with a wide range of customers, but you should look for one that has experience in your industry. In particular, do not work with a company that handles mostly residential systems: for your business, you need commercial‐grade access control. Many manufacturers produce residential versions that are considerably cheaper; but they are not as reliable and not built for the same amount of use as commercial systems. Also, look for a vendor who supports multiple brands of hardware. Access control hardware is fairly standardized and will work with most controllers. However, controllers and software are more specialized, so make sure the dealer you choose has significant experience supporting the brands you decide on. Factory certification from manufacturers indicates a greater level of training and support, but it is not essential
Integration and Installation
In addition to providing you with the right products, the vendor you choose will also be responsible for providing going support and helping to integrate it with any other related systems you have. There is no real standard for connectivity between access control and alarms, time and attendance and video surveillance, so there will always be some additional custom work involved in creating links between these systems. Most important, there are local and national codes governing the types of locks and hardware that can be used on fire and exit doors, so make sure you are familiar with the ordinances in your area.
Door Access Control System Pricing
Arriving at good estimates of access control system pricing is difficult: most access control vendors will want to discuss your needs in detail before providing you with estimates. That said, there are some general costs you can keep in mind. A complete keypad or card‐based access control system for a single door is typically $1500 to $2500 installed. The more doors you add, the lower the per‐door pricing is. These prices include everything; the hardware, software, and installation. The only exception is the cards themselves, which are usually priced separately. For Do-It-Yourself installation, expect prices more in the neighborhood of $500 to $1500 per door. However, the pricing of a system is contingent on the range of options stand-alone access control points, can be purchased for as little as $400. While Iris scanning biometric systems are much more expensive and can easily reach $10,000 or more for a single access point. Access control system pricing increases when you start including additional components such as photo ID printers, door prop alarms, and higher‐security locks. While the prices listed here can help you get an idea of your budget, your total costs will change throughout the project as you add and remove components.
Your access control system pricing should include basic email and telephone support, at least for the first year. Better vendors provide lifetime support for products. Many dealers will also offer extended warranties or maintenance contracts, but the basic manufacturers warranty is often sufficient for access control hardware. The components are relatively simple and do not have many moving parts, so they do not tend to break down easily.
Door Access Control System Buying Tips
Stay in touch - Keep your building management in the loop as you select and install a security access control system; you may need permission to do certain types of installation.
Safe or secure - Different types of locking hardware can be "fail secure" meaning if the power goes out, the door remains locked from the outside, or "fail safe" meaning the door will unlock completely in a power failure. Both safety regulations and your own security requirements can have an impact on which type is right for your situation. (Remember that in a power failure, security doors must allow anyone inside to exit.)
Reuse equipment - Hardware, locks, sensors, and card readers or keypads; are fairly interchangeable between different security access control systems, so upgrades and add ons can incorporate existing materials.
Do not overbuy - Securing door after door inside your facility is likely to frustrate employees more than increase security. Do not feel like you have to include every door in a security access control system: a mix of card access and plain old keys is often the best combination. Focus your access control points on the perimeter of your building.
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