Keyless Entry Basics

The primary goal of any keyless system is to eliminate access by keys, so the keys that do bypass these systems must be carefully guarded and never distributed casually.


Today’s business customers have developed a strong interest in keyless entry. Whether motivated by need or desire, these customers turn to security providers, installers, contractors and locksmiths to facilitate keyless entry requests. Keyless entry devices and systems are evolving...


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CONTROLLERS
An electric strike operated by a receptionist doesn’t need a controller. A button simply interrupts or closes a circuit that provides power to the electric strike.

Systems that require validation of codes, cards, and fobs require a controller. The controller manages transactions by authenticating the credentials it receives and then either sending or shunting power to a locking device. Some controllers maintain a database of transactions that can be accessed by the administrator.

Controllers range in sophistication. Some can control a single circuit while others can control many circuits. Some controllers can send or receive signals from other devices. In high rises, many applications require that controllers be able to receive a signal from the fire control system so that all locks can be defeated while in alarm.

Controllers will range in price based upon sophistication. Locksmiths should always match the controller to the application. It doesn’t make sense to install a controller that can handle multiple circuits when one circuit is needed. It does make sense if there is the possibility of expanding to a second or more circuit in the near future.

Locksmiths should also consider that certain applications require special ratings. The most common rating is UL, especially if attached to other circuits like the fire control system.

Some controllers require a length of time to program. If the locksmith is expected to do this, a provision should cover the amount of time necessary to perform the initial programming.

Who will provide day-to-day programming? If the customer expects to do this, proper documentation must be provided for the customer to “learn” the process.

If the locksmith is going to handle this, what will be the arrangement? Will it be necessary for the customer to provide a remote means for the locksmith to do this? Does programming require the locksmith to visit the site each and every time? All of these requirements must be reviewed with the customer, initially as part of the expectations.

ELECTRIC LOCKING HARDWARE
Each application should be properly matched with the right locking hardware. Where egress is required, electric exit devices must be installed.

Sometimes electric exit devices are used on doors even when there is no requirement to egress, for example storefront (aluminum and glass) doors. Because of the narrow stile of the door, electrified exit devices are much easier to install than “hogging in” an electric strike or running wires to an electrified storefront type deadbolt or latchbolt.

In high use areas, magnetic locks are ideal. Typically, pizza stores will provide magnetic locks tied into exit devices because the doors must reliably lock. The intention is to positively secure the door behind the delivery person so others cannot “piggyback” in. This is to thwart after hours theft.

Today most manufacturers of commercial locksets offer electrified versions. This eliminates the need to retrofit electric strikes.

Current is provided to the lockset. Power is brought to the lock by a conduit mounted to the inside surface of the door, or by way of a concealed raceway inside the door. Surface-mounted conduits have the advantage of not voiding door warranties, boring doors to accept raceways voids the protection rating of the door.

Door manufacturers can provide rated doors with raceways pre-installed.

Fire assemblies; doors and jambs that are rated for fire protection often cannot accept electrified locksets, if concealed raceways are a requirement. Those fire assemblies where the door manufacturers have pre-installed raceways for power must also employ (as part of the fire assembly) electrified hinges that are equally rated.

Electric strikes are a traditional means to facilitate keyless entry. They can require a fair amount of carpentry or metal working. The strike plate and the jamb area the plate is attached to are integral to the security of the lockset. This portion of the jamb is cut out to accommodate the electric strike.

In the process, electric strikes facilitate convenience but degrade the security of the door as strike plates properly mounted to sturdy jambs are stronger than the electric strike.
Electric strikes should only be considered on doors dedicated to traffic control and not the security of a room.

STANDALONE LOCKS
Today’s standalone locks feature batteries that last a long time; the ability to retrofit into existing door preps; the ability to wirelessly receive programming instructions; and the ability to wirelessly transmit access history.

This are electrified locksets that incorporate power, controller assembly, and locking hardware. Additionally, some standalone locks can interface with existing keyless systems.
Standalones are easy to install, and the hardware intentionally complies with existing door preps.

PERIPHERAL INPUT/OUTPUT SENSORS
When configuring keyless systems, there may bells and whistles to install.

An alarm at the top of each door can be added that can be triggered when unauthorized entry is attempted, or a door is propped open.

Lights or buzzers can let persons know when the door is accessible so that the door can be pulled open. The same indicators can be triggered by latch monitors indicating the door isn’t properly latched.
Sensors mounted to the jamb or door can send signals to the controller that a door is opened or closed. These sensors can be tied into other burglary or fire systems (when approved by the AHJ).

KEYED OVERRIDE
Ironically every keyless system should have some type of keyed over-ride. The key should be sparingly distributed. For instance, an electrified lockset or exit device should be keyed in such a way where the locksmith or first responder can make immediate entry, manually. For the fire department the master key that opens these locks should be stored as per their instructions.

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