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Everything You Need to Know – Access Control System

Access Control

In Access Control System, the one basic rule to be followed is Life safety above all else. purpose of the system is to keep an area secure. Since Access Control system is Life Safety System, NFPA101, NFPA72, and IBC regulation will be applied to the system.

· NFPA101: The official ‘Life Safety Code’ is the most widely used source to protect people based on building construction, protection, and occupancy ratings.

 NFPA72: Created for Fire Alarms, this code is sometimes cited in electronic access control because of the special integration required between the door locks and the fire alarm system.

 IBC: The International Building Code, as published by the International Code Council, is the essential guidebook for designing and engineering safe buildings.


Every Access Control door can be secured with either a maglock or an electric strike.

Leaf – The ‘leaf’ is the main swinging part of a door. A single door is often called a ‘leaf’, while a double-doored opening has two ‘leaves’.

Frames – Steel and Aluminium are common materials used to construct frames, although wooden frames can sometimes be found on older buildings.

Sliding Doors – where an operator moves door leaves laterally rather than swing them in or out.

Important Functions of Door

the function of a controlled opening is an important consideration. The types of doors below have special considerations when installed as part of access systems

· Fire Doors: The openings are more than just secured openings; they provide an integral safety function to limit risk in a fire condition.

· Stairwell Doors: Usually stairwell doors are locked, to prevent unauthorized access during normal conditions, but in a fire these locks will be unlocked for

an occupant fleeing a fire.

Door Locks

Cylindrical Lock

The locks designed to use this prep are round in shape, and typically use the hole to support the lock in the door. well suited for light-duty use. Interior Doors, Offices, Passageways, Low-Medium Volume Doors

  • Pros: easy to install
  • Cons: Single latch not as secure as other types, not as durable as mortise locks

Mortise Locks

Compared to a cylindrical lock, a mortise lock is big, heavy, and full of complex parts. multiple latches are typical features of mortise hardware. Mortise locks are commonly used in doors requiring high security and high volumes,

  • Pros: Very durable, support multiple security latches
  • Cons: Expensive, field cutting a door to support a mortise lock is difficult

Surface Locks / Panic Bars

these locks typically require minimal door prep, and the most common type of hardware in this category are exit devices. Surface door hardware is typically secured with surface strikes and typically withstand high amounts of tampering.

  • Pros: Meets Life/Safety Emergency Egress Codes, Most doors, regardless of factory prep, support Surface Hardware installation
  • Cons: Expensive, and potentially disruptive to aesthetics. Difficult to hang on glass doors.

Electric Strike

Despite being one of the most common components of access control, specifying the right electric strike can be deceptively complex. Strikes are basically movable portions of the door frame, consisting of 3 main components,

  • The Strike Box
  • The Strike Plate
  • The Keeper

Fail Safe vs. Fail Secure

Fail Safe: When power is interrupted (fails), the electronic locking device is released (unlocked).

And Fail Secure: When power is interrupted (fails), the electronic locking device is secured (locked).

However, ‘fail safe’ vs. ‘fail secure’ is a vital element to control entry into a building during an emergency. Fire fighters or medical responders could be locked out of an area if it is not properly configured to ‘fail safe’. On the other hand, occupants could inadvertently open a firedoor, exposing otherwise protected parts of a building if ‘fail secure’ is not properly implemented.

Access Control Components

  • Door Contact
  • Push Button / Exit Button
  • Break Glass
  • Magnetic Lock
  • Card Reader / Keypad / Fingerprint Sensor
  • Door Controllers

Push Buttons

the most common and typically form of RTE (Request to Exit). buttons are solely designed to mechanically interrupt power to maglocks to unlock the door.

Door Position Switches or Door Contact

Door Position Switches detect whether a door is opened or closed. Typically, the access control system controller or door interface module is where this sensor is connected.

usually requiring the wired piece to be installed into the frame, and the solid ‘magnet’ piece being installed into a drilled hole in the door.

Card Readers

An access control reader ‘reads’ the credential presented and checks this to the database within the access control software. If access to a specific doorway is allowed for that credential, the door is opened and if not, the door remains locked.

Access control systems are installed to secure a building, the people and assets within it. Card readers are a fundamental component and are the most visible part of an access control system. Installed readers should offer a high level of encryption, upgradability and be durable enough to withstand years of use and even potential tampering.

The common ‘form factors’ of credential are:

  • Card/Badges
  • Clamshells
  • Key Fobs
  • Stickers or Tokens
  • Embedded Chips

Despite being touted as the next big thing for access control, fingerprint readers struggle to dethrone traditional manufactured credentials as “the” standard. One of the biggest concerns with fingerprint readers is how easy they can be fooled.

For this reason, many access control fingerprint readers include live finger or liveness detection that checks the finger being scanned is authentic.

Break Glass

Break glass (which draws its name from breaking the glass to pull an alarm). During an emergency case, when a person does not have authorized access card to exit, Break Glass is used.

The system administrator should document any actual emergency access for later audit & review. 


Access Control systems may have hundreds of parts, but door controllers are in the centre of them all.

Door Controllers are common to most every access system, and primarily consolidate all other devices into one spot. Every reader, sensor, and lock must be tied into ‘the system’ and the controller is where that happens. Whether it is called a ‘controller’, ‘door module’, or ‘access computer’, the controller has one function: bridge the gap between software and hardware.


Access control identifies users by verifying various login credentials, Once a user is authenticated, access control then authorizes the appropriate level of access

Magnetic Locks

One of the most misunderstood yet valuable pieces of electrified hardware is the maglock. all maglocks fail safe. Because a maglock is essentially an electromagnet, if energy is not present – it simply does not operate.

Unlike other pieces of electrified hardware that can be configured to fail secure – potentially complicating egress in an emergency – maglocks lose all holding force when power drops.

Most modern models are field selectable to either 12 or 24VDC, but other voltages and AC versions are available.

Hence we see and we know about Access Control System.

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