When it comes to protecting your business and your property, you can never be too careful. To promote the security of your business, you should track who comes in and out of your building and when. Furthermore, you should you limit access to your building and control who enters which area. The best way to monitor and control access is to install an access control system in your building. If you’re considering an access control system, we’ve compiled the information you need to know.

What is an Access Control System?

An access control system is simply an electronic system designed to control passage in or out of an area. Over the years, these systems have become much more advanced, featuring key cards and access codes. Typically, locked doors will open with an access control mechanism and then lock behind them. Access control systems provide quick, convenient access for authorized visitors while limiting access of unauthorized visitors.

What are the Basic Components?

Access Cards

In an access control system, access cards will take the place of keys. People will scan their access cards to gain access to the building or certain areas of the building. Each access card will have its own unique code, allowing you to control access for each individual, easily turning access on and off at different times or at different areas of the building. Access cards are typically the size of a credit card, making them portable and able to easily fit inside a wallet.

Card Readers

The card reader is the device that will read access cards in order to grant access. There are different types of card readers, some requiring card insertion, some requiring swipes, and some only needing cards to pass in proximity to the reader. Card readers are typically mounted on the door or next to the door that they control, so the number of card readers an access control system contains will depend on the number of doorways to which you require restricted access.


Access control keypads are another method of entry. Instead of scanning an access card, you will punch in a code on a numeric keypad. In order to gain entry, you must enter in the correct passcode. Keypads are sometimes used instead of card readers, and sometimes in conjunction with card readers. For an extra layer of security, a door might have a card reader and a keypad, requiring an access card and a correct passcode in order to gain entry.

Electric Lock Hardware

The hardware that actually locks and unlocks the doors is a part of your access control system as well. Electric lock hardware will electronically unlock your door after a keycard swipe or keypad code entry, and electronically lock the door again when it closes. There are many different types of electric lock hardware such as electric locks, electric strikes, electromagnetic locks, and more. The type of hardware used will depend on the construction of the door. In addition to electronically locking and unlocking your doors, electric lock hardware ensures that doors can be freely opened whenever someone wishes to exit in order to comply with building and fire codes.

Alarm Systems

Fire alarms, burglary alarms, and intrusion detection alarms are often integrated with access control. If an unauthorized person attempts to enter the doors controlled by electric lock hardware, your access control system can signal the alarm to go off. In the event of an emergency like a fire, in addition to sounding an alarm, your access control system can temporarily turn off locks that might impede quick exit from a building.

Field Panels

Field panels are the control panels that connect all other parts of your access control system such as your card readers, keypads, hardware, and more. Field panels are used to process access control activity for the whole building. The number of panels will be determined by the size of the building, the size of the system, and the extent to which the system is used. Field panels are typically installed in telephone, electrical, or communication closets.

Access Control Software

Your access control software is the brain of your entire system. It is the central database and file manager for the system. It records system activity and distributes information to and from the field panels in the building. This software runs on a traditional computer. Typically, you will have one computer with this software loaded on and it will be dedicated for full-time use of the software.

How Does it Work?

When you first install an access control system, you will decide which areas will be restricted and to whom. You will grant access to the appropriate individuals via their personalized keycards. Then, you’ll hand out your keycards. The doors will always be locked, and individuals will scan their keycards on the keycard reader in order to gain access to the building. Your system will monitor all entry and send alerts if an unauthorized individual attempts to enter the building.

What are the Benefits?

Customizable System

When thinking about the security of commercial businesses, access control systems can be a great asset because of their customizability. You can allow some employees unlimited access, and others access at certain times. Your daytime employees might be granted access between 8-6, while your night staff might have different access. You can also limit what parts of the building employees have access to. If you’re dealing with high security measures, you can choose which employees have access to certain rooms.

You Won’t Lose Your Keys

If you opt for keyless entry with key codes, fingerprints, or another selection, no one will have to worry about keys. If you’re someone who tends to misplace things, this system is a great choice for you. There are also options that use both card entry and key code entry in one system. Because it’s so customizable, you can choose the option that’s right for your habits.

Key Cards are Harder to Duplicate

If you choose key card entry, it’s still a better option than a regular key because it can’t be duplicated. If someone gets a hold of the key to your property, it is very easy to bring to a shop and duplicate. However, key cards are very difficult to duplicate. Additionally, if a key card is stolen, it’s easy to turn off access to that card and issue a new one, ensuring that no unwanted visitors enter your building.

Easy to Log Activity

Beyond restricting access to your building, there are other measures that are important in ensuring the security of your property. Keeping track of who comes and goes will not only help you be aware of who is inside your building, but will provide a detailed record in the event that there is an issue. An access control system will help you keep track of who is coming in and out as well as the times that the doors were opened and closed. These records could be instrumental in a case where police need to investigate.

Remote Access

Another great feature of access control systems is their ability to be controlled remotely. In a situation where you need to let someone into the building but don’t want to give her a code or other mode of entry, you can grant her access remotely. This feature is helpful because you can allow someone in the building when no one else is there without allowing her permanent access.

Cut Costs

Remote access isn’t beneficial just for remote entry. Access control systems can be integrated with your building’s general management system. You can program your access control system to turn off lights, turn down your heat, and control other cost-saving factors. That way, you’ll save on energy even when the last person out forgets to turn off the lights.

Additionally, keyless entry is a cost-saving measure. If someone loses a key card, it’s much easier to replace a card and reprogram the system than it is to change your building’s locks. Changing the locks on its own is expensive, and then every employee will need to be issued a new key. Doing away with keys is a great cost-saving measure.