Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes, another opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” That may be true, metaphorically speaking. Because if Mr. Bell was speaking literally, and doors were actually opening every time another one closed, he would certainly need to improve his building’s access control. Put simply, “access control” is the process of controlling passage into or out of any area. With the advent of modern technology, and the ingenuity of some bad actors, access control systems have gotten progressively more complicated. In this article, we’ll delve into the main components of modern door access control systems. It should be noted there are multiple ways to customize this system and more complex options, but the basic components are usually pretty similar.

What Makes Up a Door Access Control System?

  • Access Cards
    • The access card functions a type of electronic “key”. It is used by authorized people to gain entry through the doors that are secured by the access control system. Each access card has its own unique code. The majority of access cards are about the same size as a standard credit card and can easily be carried in a person’s purse or wallet.
  • Card Readers
    • Card readers are the devices that are used to electronically “read” the access card. They may require insertion of the card into the reader or may only require that the card be held at a proximity of 3-6 inches from the reader. Card readers are usually mounted on the exterior (non-secured) side of the door that they control.
  • Access Control Keypads
    • Access control keypads are devices that can be used in addition to or in lieu of access card readers. The access control keypad has numeric keys which resemble the keys on a touch-tone telephone. The access control keypad requires that a person attempting to gain access to the area enter a correct numeric code. When access control keypads are used in conjunction with card readers, both a valid card and the correct code are needed before entry is allowed. When access control keypads are used instead of card readers, only a correct code is required to gain access to the area.
  • Electric Lock Hardware
    • Electric lock hardware consists of the equipment that is used to electronically lock and unlock each door that is controlled by the access control system. There is a vast array of different types of electric lock hardware. These include but are not limited to electric locks, electric strikes, electromagnetic locks, and electric exit devices. The specific type and arrangement of hardware used for each door is dependent upon the construction conditions of the door. In almost every case, the electric lock hardware is designed to control entrance into a building or other secured space. To be in compliance with building and fire codes, the electric lock hardware must never restrict the ability of anyone to freely exit the building at any time.
  • Access Control Field Panels
    • Access control field panels, which can also be referred to as “intelligent controllers” are installed in each building where access control is provided. A number of previously mentioned components like card readers, electric lock hardware, and other access control devices are all linked to the access control field panels. The access control field panels are used to process access control activity at the building level. The number of access control field panels provided in each building are determined by the number of doors that need to be controlled. Access control field panels are typically installed in electrical, telephone, or communications closets.
  • Access Control Server Computer
    • The access control server computer functions as the “brain” of the access control system. The access control server computer acts as the central database and file manager for the access control system. It is also responsible for recording system activity and distributing information to and gathering information from the access control field panels. Ordinarily, a single access control server computer can be used to control a great number of card-reader controlled doors. The access control server computer is typically a standard computer that can run special access control system application software. In the vast majority of cases, the computer is designated for full-time use with the access control system.

Door access control systems contain a multitude of moving parts, and deftly blend technology (computers) with more traditional security measures (locks). While a system like this may seem straightforward at first glance, after further inspection it becomes apparent that the system is actually quite intricate. The six main components that make up a typical door access control system are access cards, card readers, access control keypads, electric lock hardware, access control field panels, and the access control server computer. For all your door access control needs, you can visit Bevo Security Solutions.