Wired Vs. Wireless: Access Control Basics

Statistics show that fewer than 10 percent of commercial buildings use electronic access control. Many of those commercial buildings have fewer than 10 doors. This provides a phenomenal opportunity.

Wired access control systems require wiring run from the power source to the lock mechanisms, alarm relays and readers. Depending upon the locations, running wiring can be easy or difficult. In addition, the choice of lock mechanisms can determine if the job is wired or wireless.



Installing wireless access control systems is different. Wireless systems have standalone networked locks including cylindrical, mortise, narrow stile and trim for exit devices. These battery-operated networked locks communicate wirelessly via the Ethernet or 802.11B/G to any non-dedicated Windows-based PC.

For the locks to communicate with the PC, gateway or access points are required to transceive the communications. The gateways and access points have range limitations and only a limited number of networked locks can operate using one gateway or access point.

Note: Some lock manufacturers use a variation of wireless wired in order to communicate.

At this point in time, there is no easy way to provide standalone wireless access control using an electric strike, lock or magnet as power requirements for these locking mechanism cannot be satisfied by batteries.

Each locksmith should make the wired and/or wireless choices depending upon each individual installation.


Wired Installation

Our example installation was part of a retrofit that included replacing the windows and doors to wide stile glass aluminum at an office complex. They upgraded the entrances and added electronic access control to an interior door equipped with a cylindrical lock.

For the exterior, HES 9600 electric strikes, electrified leversets, HID iCLASS 13.56MHz contactless readers, Sargent rim exit devices and door closers were installed.

The HES 9600 series Genesis™ electric strike operates with rim exit devices having up to a 3/4” throw Pullman latch. The surface-mounted 9600 Series requires no cutting of the frame. Its stainless steel body resists tampering and vandalism, while extending the operational life of a surface-mounted electric strike. Voltage and operation is field selectable.

HID iCLASS 13.56MHz contactless open architecture readers are compatible with many proximity and smart card technologies. For this installation, two styles of readers were installed. The R15 mullion mount reader has a read range of up to 3.5” and the R40 wall switch mount reader has a read range up to 4.25”. Current requirements are 55mA at 5-16 VDC. HID recommends the use of a linear power supply.

For the interior doors, the cylindrical locks were electrically upgraded, an HID iCLASS reader was installed and raceways were drilled.

Wiring was run from each exit device, lock and reader to an industrial control panel enclosure containing the panels, power supply and backup battery. A dedicated Mercury EP1502 Access Platform and an MR50 Single Sub Controller Card Reader Interface Panels provide electronic access control for the openings. An Altronix LPS3R power supply and Revere RT-1640SL/M Plug-in Transformer provides power for the readers and the access platforms. This linear power supply and charger converts low voltage AC input to a low voltage 12VDC/24VDC output. A backup battery was installed.

A Command Access PS2 Class 2 Power Supply provided power for the electric strikes and locks. Two 12V, 4.0Ah sealed rechargeable lead-acid backup batteries were installed.

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