The advantage of the standalone, battery operated electromechanical lock was having all of the components in one unit. Battery power eliminated the need for wiring. Standalone eliminated compatibility issues and technical support problems as well as warranty issues. If there is a question or problem with a standalone lock, only one telephone number needs to be called to the lock manufacturer for technical support.
The cost to purchase a standalone electromechanical lock was and is usually more than the cost of individual wired components. However, the installation is significantly less expensive. This left the choice of wired versus standalone to the “construction of the building,” the locksmith or the end-user. “Construction of the building” refers to if the walls or jambs were concrete filled, resulting in a very difficult and time consuming job of properly running wires.
Standalone, battery operated electromechanical locks can provide features including:
Hierarchy systems (Master, Submaster, Supervisor, User, Service Code, etc.)
User Code Groups
Hundreds or thousands of User Codes
Time/date methods for controlling access
Lock down (Supervisor code access or no code access)
Passage mode – unlocked
Downloadable audit trail (lock history)
Ability to identify when override key was used
Credentials - Keypad, magstripe, proximity, SmartCard, etc.
Touch pad versus keypad
Battery condition indicator
Anti-tamper – three incorrect code and the lock shuts down for a period of time
Standalone locks require someone to go to each lock to determine lock condition, battery strength, to retrieve the audit trails or to make programming changes. Programming changes can be accomplished by having a person download (data transfer tools) or physically program changes at each of the locks. Programming at the lock normally requires the lock to be equipped with a keypad or a port to which a computer or tool can be connected. Programming and checking multiple locks can be time consuming.
However, the upside is the ability to control access by limiting users to specific time ranges and days. If the lock has a built in holiday calendar, it is possible that no programming is required to lock out users on weekends and specific holidays.
To provide more universal options, standalone locks are available to be installed onto narrow stile aluminum/glass doors, as well as be installed onto wood and metal door using cylindrical locks, mortise locks and exit devices. Some lock manufacturers including Alarm Lock offer double-sided locks that are commonly installed onto gates to control access.
During the 2000s, wireless communication became an available feature for standalone, battery operated electromechanical locks. Wireless communication means no wires to transfer the information to a personal computer or to another lock. There are many different methods of wireless communication and the different software programs that operate them.
Most network-capable standalone, battery operated electromechanical locks use an access point, a gateway. A gateway is a node (wireless router) that serves as an access point to another network. For these locks, a gateway wirelessly connects the lock to the personal computer. Depending upon the lock’s manufacturer, the gateway can be wireless or wired to the personal computer.
One important feature of the newer standalone and networked electromechanical locks is the increased memory. This enables the locks to have thousands of users, larger audit trail capabilities and more defined access control limitations. This memory capability also provides some lock manufacturers products to have lock programming, user-data and use information stored in the locks themselves to be able to have uninterrupted access control should there be a power out for the personal computer.
When a system has been installed, the computer through the gateway and the locks transmit and receive information including adding or removing user codes, time/date changes, determining battery condition, lockdown or passage mode, etc. Just about everything that can be accomplished at the lock itself.
For example, a new employee proximity identification card can be swiped at the computer and programmed into the system. The proximity card is handed to the employee who can gain access at each authorized door during the appropriate times. All of this can be done without having to go out to any of the locks.