Electrifying Door Hardware – Four Scenarios

A reception area, hotel side entrance, X-ray lab and manufacturing facility all get varying levels of electronic access control


Choosing the “right” door hardware for a specific application really begins with the customer. Examining the existing lock hardware to determine what can be properly used for the proposed application is the second step. First, it is most important to find out how the customer wants the door to...


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Choosing the “right” door hardware for a specific application really begins with the customer. Examining the existing lock hardware to determine what can be properly used for the proposed application is the second step.

First, it is most important to find out how the customer wants the door to operate, which can include any or all of the following:

  • Key-controlled access control
  • Electronic access control
  • Remote access
  • 24/7/365 access control
  • Multiple credentials
  • Audit trail
  • Controlled access from one or both sides of the door

For this article, we will discuss options for controlling access using four scenarios. Each will describe the doorway, its function, components and additional necessary information. Once described, we will list the electrification options, including information regarding necessary components, wiring requirements and installation considerations.

Wherever possible I will include at least one option that permits existing hardware to be used.

Important: Always discuss an electronic installation with the local authority having jurisdiction (LAHJ) prior to installing.

SCENARIO 1: Reception Area

The first scenario is an interior wooden door and jamb from the reception area, providing access to individual offices within a large office building. The reception area door is equipped with a door closer and a storeroom function lever cylindrical lockset. The storeroom function lockset outside lever is locked and access can only be gained by using the key to retract the latch. The inside lever is always unlocked, providing free egress. There is a rear entrance for the renters if they stay beyond closing or want to gain access after business hours.

The customer would like some way that the receptionist can temporarily unlock the door for people to gain access without having to physically unlock the lock for each person. Each office is notified and authorization is given prior to permitting people access through the door. The client thinks that the total number of electronic openings will be less than 50 per day, five days a week, approximately 1,300 opening per year.

The door and the door hardware provide a starting point for the choices. For this example, the doorway is not fire rated. There is no fire label on the door or jamb. This means that the wall is not a firewall and is a partial wall, stopping below the actual ceiling.

If the opening were fire rated, there are additional limitations. Then the wall would be a firewall running from the floor to the sub floor of the next floor up or the roof pan and any work must be according to code. For example, a raceway can be drilled through a fire rated wooden door by a locksmith who has the proper equipment and certification. The door must then be re-labeled to recertify the opening. To legitimately install a raceway in a hollow metal door, the door must be removed from the jamb and taken to a certified door company. The raceway is constructed; the door is recertified and hung by the door company.

The next consideration is for the wiring. Determine of the wiring can be exposed, for example running up the wall. I do not believe that a professional should offer this option unless there is no alternative. Concealing the wiring is the proper way of doing an installation.

For this scenario, the walls are stick construction using wooden 2x4s. The ceiling is a drop ceiling with ducting and wiring throughout space. This means that wiring can be run relatively easily as the space above the drop ceiling is not used as the active circulating air duct (plenum airspace).

This means that running wires down the wall to a momentary button would not be very difficult. A four foot 3/8” diameter bell-hangers drill bit can be used to drill a hole down the wall to about three to three and one half feet above the finished floor.

If the desk is next to the wall, the wiring can be run locating the momentary switch (button) can be mounted onto one of the inner sides of the desk, so the receptionist does not have to reach in order to provide access. This way the button is not easily visible.

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