Keypads & Readers Overview

Dec. 1, 2008
Keypads can be standalone controllers, a part of an integral system, or be separate devices which connect to external control equipment.

Keypads are handy input devices used for a variety of security applications. They are the means that people communicate with the machine to gain access. Keypads are convenient because all you need is a finger and the right code. Keypads are pretty much familiar to everybody, and they are multi-cultural and multi-lingual. They don’t have to be explained in order for people to know what to do.

Keypads use different technologies for the buttons. Some keypads use individual switches for each button. Membrane keypads are also popular. The switch is built onto a circuit board and then a thin membrane with numbers printed on it is overlaid over the switches. These keypads are typically weather-resistant and favored because they provide the end-user with tactile feel so they know they have pressed each button properly

Some keypads are solid state, with no moving parts. Each button is a piezo transducer (or sometimes a capacitive switch). The Piezo type reacts to pressure from a finger on its surface to actuate. The capacitive type senses the capacitance of human flesh to activate the sensor. Capacitive technology is used for other door control equipment as well such as wall switches and exit bars.

Keypads can be standalone controllers, a part of an integral system, or be separate devices which connect to external control equipment.

Keypads are available with different numbers of buttons on them, and come in a variety of configurations. Some keypads have only five buttons where a single button represents two different digits.

Keypads come in single gang 3X4 matrix (like a telephone keypad) or narrow for mounting on an aluminum storefront.

Keypads on safes are usually round.

Some keypads are illuminated and others scramble the arrangement of the digits each button represents to thwart spying on a code while it is being entered into the keypad.
The security of a keypad system is a matter of technology and how and where the keypad is deployed. Keypads can be used to provide very high security solutions when integrated with other authentication.

When recommending an access control solution, the risk of unauthorized entry is an important element in the formula, as is the number of individuals who might be trying to take a crack at breaking in, and also whether the keypad is in a high traffic area, where someone standing there pumping in wrong codes would become obvious.

The accepted and most frequently deployed techniques are to use individually encoded credentials, each with a unique memorized P.I.N. (Personal Identification Number) for highest security, credential only for more moderate security, and individual memorized code only as the lowest level, preferably for low security doors within the protected area.

The following is a summary of some of the more interesting keypad products on the market today. Also see our Product Spotlight: Keypads & Readers on pages 50-51 for product summaries.

The HID ProxPro® proximity card reader’s weatherproof design and architecturally attractive enclosure allows easy mounting indoors or out. The ProxPro Reader is ideal for applications requiring a larger read range.

Features include:

•           Affords high reliability, consistent read range characteristics, and low power consumption in a single, easy-to-install package.
•           Features multicolor LED, internal or host control of the LED, and/or beeper and a beeper “off” switch for silent operation.
•           Provides Wiegand protocol interface compatibility with all standard access control systems.
•           Offers an optional, fully integrated personal identification number keypad for heightened security.
•           Can be mounted to glass (using the optional glass mounting kit).

For a longer read range, try the new generation ProxPro II Reader, which provides an additional inch (2.5 cm) of read range, requires just 5 volts for operation, and is lower-priced than the ProxPro Reader.
For more information, contact HID Corp., 9292 Geronimo Rd., Irvine, CA 92816. Telephone: 949-598-1600 or 800-237-7769. Web Site:

Trilogy DK3000 and PDK3000 digital access keypads with prox reader are ideal for use with 12V or 24V AC or DC electric door strikes,

These keypads and electronics are just Trilogy standalone locks, without the integral lockset, but with all the other features, such as the software and activity logs.

Many applications require that you use an electric locking device because of the type of door, or for a retrofit, or that you need to operate a piece of external equipment, like a gate operator.

Additionally, if you have a variety of openings on a site, you can now use the same product and software for all. This works well for the end-user and security managers; the folks who have to use the system everyday and the folks who have to maintain multiple units. It also works for installers, keeping programming and operation the same between types of openings means you learn the product faster and you can maintain a smaller inventory on your truck.

AlarmLock is constantly updating and enhancing the Trilogy, and with their recent acquisition of Marks USA, which was also a leader in standalone access solutions, we can expect future new product/feature enhancements for their products.

For more information, contact Alarm Lock, 345 Bayview Ave., Amityville, NY 11701. Telephone: 631-789-4871 or 800-252-5625. Web Site:

ESSEX keypads are the industry standard for piezo technology keypads They offer single gang and narrow stile solid state keypads in a variety of finishes and with a variety of features.

The KTP Series 12 Pad 3x4 is a virtually indestructible, stainless steel, Piezoelectric Keypad Reader. Available with various Industry Standard Outputs, the KTP Series is designed to interface with industrial process control equipment and SCADA systems.  It is durable enough for even the most extreme outdoor environments yet attractively designed to suit all indoor applications

The SKE 34 KeyPad is a heavy duty, multiple user, self contained keyless Entry® keypad with features suitable for most single door access control requirements. As a self-contained system, all electronics are contained inside the keypad.  Easy to install and operate, all programming is performed through the keypad.

PiezoProx is a Piezoelectric Keypad with an HID industry standard 125kHz proximity reader. With a PiezoProx is a dual technology reader which incorporates an Essex Stainless Steel, read range of up to 5”, PiezoProx provides superior reader performance in virtually any environment.
For more information, contact Essex Electronics, 1130 Mark Ave., Carpinteria, CA 93013. Telephone: 805-684-7601 or 800-539-5377. Web Site:

Honeywell’s 6271CV Color Graphical Touchscreen Keypad with voice helps alarm dealers and locksmiths close more sales and increase customer retention. The unit’s color touchscreen display can be customized for the end-user.

The 6271CV is simple to use, with menu-driven prompts and icons guiding end-users every step of the way. Voice annunciation of system status and zone information adds an extra level of protection and peace of mind.

The convenient message center keeps family members in touch by letting them record and playback messages for one another.

TouchCenter conveniently displays the most recent actions involving system use. A press on the touchscreen is all it takes to access the event log, letting users easily:

• View when the system was used and who used it
• Track when workers and temporary guests use the system
• Keep tabs on family members (e.g., checking if a child has armed the system upon returning home from school)
• Utilize the TouchCenter as an effective business management tool (e.g., viewing openings and closings)
Check with HONEYWELL for panel compatibility.