Choosing The Access Control Locking System

Most access control articles discuss the installation of access control systems from the point of view of having already chosen the equipment.


Most access control articles discuss the installation of access control systems from the point of view of having already chosen the equipment. For this article, I decided to find an opening needing to be controlled electronically, prior to the decision making process. With the cooperation of...


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Most access control articles discuss the installation of access control systems from the point of view of having already chosen the equipment. For this article, I decided to find an opening needing to be controlled electronically, prior to the decision making process.

With the cooperation of Security Door Controls (SDC), we will begin with the building codes, what the end-user wants and needs, the building owner’s limitations and finally the opening. NOTE: The building codes that we will be writing about are the International Building Code®, national model codes which in reality are guides whose components have been adopted by more than 45 states as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. However, state and local codes may and usually do have different criterion. Contact your local Building Department to obtain code information prior to supplying information regarding the lock hardware being considered for the job.

We will discuss the system selection process including some of the questions as well as the reasons why one component was chosen over another.

Building Code

Chapter Ten of the International Building Code® (I.B.C.), 2006 version, covers means of egress. Within Chapter Ten Means of Egress is Section 1008 Doors, Gates and Turnstiles. Within this section is 1008.1.3.4 Access-controlled egress doors described as entrance doors for the purpose of this article.

1008.1.3.4 is as follows, “The entrance doors is a means of egress in buildings with an occupancy in Group A, B, E, M, R-1 or R-2 and entrance doors to tenant spaces in occupancies in Groups A, B, E, M, R-1 and R-2 are permitted to be equipped with an approved entrance and egress access control system which shall be installed in accordance with all of the following criteria:

  1. A sensor shall be provided on the egress side arranged to detect an occupant approaching the doors. The doors shall be arranged to unlock by a signal from or loss of power to the sensor.
  2. Loss of power to that part of the access control system, which locks the doors shall automatically unlock the doors.
  3. The doors shall be arranged to unlock from a manual unlocking device located 40 inches to 48 inches vertically above the floor and within five feet of the secured doors. Ready access shall be provided by a manual unlocking device and the device shall be clearly identified by a sign that reads “PUSH TO EXIT”. When operated, the manual unlocking device shall result in direct interruption of power to the lock - independent of the access control system electronics - and the doors shall remain unlocked for a minimum of thirty seconds.
  4. Activation of the building fire alarm system, if provided, shall automatically unlock the doors, and the doors shall remain unlocked until the fire alarm system has been reset.
  5. Activation of the building automatic sprinkler or fire detection system, if provided, shall automatically unlock the doors. The doors shall remain unlocked until the fire alarm system has been reset.
  6. Entrance doors in buildings with an occupancy in Groups A, B, E or M shall not be secured from the egress side during periods that the building is open to the general public.

For our purposes, sub-subsection 1 of the International Building Code Section 10 Means of Egress requires us to have a sensor (motion detector) on the egress side of the door that unlocks the lock mechanism prior to the person coming in contact with the door.

According to sub-subsection 2, the access control system must automatically unlock the doors during a loss of power.

Sub-subsection 3 specifies that . a manual unlocking device will be located 40 inches to 48 inches vertically above the floor with signage “PUSH TO EXIT”. This can be a push pad in addition to the exit device. Depressing this unlocking device will unlock the door and the door shall remain unlocked for a minimum of 30 seconds.

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