E-Plex Wireless: An Easy Transition to Wireless Access Control

Aug. 3, 2011

At first glance, many locksmiths may think wireless access control is not for them. They choose to stay in their comfort zones with key systems, mechanical pushbutton locks, and perhaps stand-alone electromechanical products.  However, there are significant business opportunities for the locksmith to easily transition to wireless access control with the E-Plex™ Enterprise System offered by Kaba Access Control, including the ability to upgrade existing E-Plex Locks already in the field.

As technology has evolved, there is a vast variety of electromechanical solutions for security and access control applications. Traditional locksmiths who have been hesitant to transition into electronics have typically lost business as customer requirements expanded beyond the mechanical lock and key.

Kaba’s newest version of the E-Plex Enterprise Access Control System, which includes a wireless option, affords the locksmith the opportunity to keep business that in the past may have transitioned to security dealers/integrators. Kaba introduced the product at the ALOA show in August. E-Plex Wireless gives the locksmith the opportunity to offer customers more access points at less cost than a wired access system, while making more profit overall.

Since most locksmiths are comfortable with mechanical pushbutton locks, the transition to E-Plex Wireless can significantly expand their product offering to customers without a big leap beyond their comfort levels. While the E-Plex Wireless System can be commissioned for more sophisticated applications where applicable, it doesn’t have to be. Many installations will be rather simple such as a few doors running off of one wireless gateway plugged into a USB port on a PC.

Consider that a typical wired door requires the following:

  • Wall reader 
  • Electromechanical hardware to physically secure the door
  • Power source
  • Door panel
  • Wiring to connect everything from the door/wall to the panel, and central computer/network

In the E-Plex Wireless System, all of the above functionality is fully contained in the electromechanical lock, so there are obvious cost advantages to wireless versus the traditional wired access point. And, the installation is easier and more straightforward.

Modular and Flexible

Kaba’s E-Plex Wireless was designed to be modular, flexible, and scalable. For example, the locks can be installed and fully functional on the door, and then converted to wireless at a later date. You can start with as few as one door, and go up as high as 10,000 access points. In addition, using Kaba’s E-Plex Enterprise Software, both wireless and offline locks can be centrally managed.

The flexibility of the E-Plex Wireless System is demonstrated in the three different ways the products can be managed depending on customer preference or need. To begin, the locks can be installed and operated in LearnLok™ mode, which means the user’s credentials are enrolled directly at the lock without using any software or wireless technology. This can be advantageous:

 1) during construction or renovation phases

 2) for doors where central management/wireless communication is not critical

3) where very few users need access, and

4) where it is not practical to add the door to the network.

A second option is to use the E-Plex Enterprise Software to manage the access points, but without configuring a wireless network. In this mode, access schedules, users, reports, etc., are all centrally managed using the software, but to communicate to/from the locks, you must physically go to the door for updates.

The third flexible option is to convert some or all doors to wireless operation, which enables communication to/from the lock without having to visit the door. This configuration is ideal for applications requiring the ability to centrally lockdown, or remotely unlock doors. Additional benefits of wireless include being able to centrally monitor access, check battery status, and send/receive updates to/from the door.

Once the decision is made to “Go Wireless,” there are a variety of choices available to address different applications and preferences. For example, if it is desired to avoid using an IT network, up to 100 wireless access points can be configured with wireless routers to communicate with a wireless gateway that is plugged into a PC using a USB connection. For applications where using the IT network is desired, gateways can be connected to network drops and then wireless routers are used to communicate between the respective gateways and wireless access points. Where redundancy is required, a mesh network can be configured so that if one router goes offline, the wireless lock or controller will communicate to the network via an alternative router. Should a wireless lock ever fall completely offline due to a complete network failure, it will continue to grant/deny access at the door based on the most recent parameters it has received from the Enterprise Software.

Enterprise Software features include access schedules, access groups, audit trail reports, and various other tools for centralized management of both wireless and offline locks. When utilized in wireless mode, the software has a “dashboard” that gives a variety of real-time functional feedback, such as user access including photo, door battery status, router signal strength, and other parameters.

The E-Plex Wireless System operates using ZigBee wireless technology standards and offers low power and fast data transfer advantages, but the system can be adapted to also communicate with existing Wi-Fi networks.

E-Plex Enterprise Software can also support a broad range of credential options including PIN codes and the following cards: PROX, Mifare®, DESFire®, iClass™. The card access products can be configured to require PIN only, card only or PIN + card.


Installation of E-Plex products is easy with Kaba’s patent pending Lectrobolt™, which eliminates any wires through the door. Various E-Plex Locks already in the field can be upgraded to wireless by purchasing a Wireless Antenna Kit and Enterprise Version 3 Software.

For traditional door lock applications, there are two different antenna options available. One mounts on the inside of the door, and the other on the outside of the door. A key factor in deciding which antenna kit should be used is determined during the site survey where the best wireless communication path to the respective gateway or router is confirmed.

E-Plex Wireless Gateways and Routers are the same physical unit. They are shipped from the factory as a router and can easily be configured in the field to be a gateway.

If needs change after the locks are installed, the locks can easily be moved to another door, often without any cost other than the time it takes to relocate it.  Kaba’s E-Plex offering includes a solution for virtually any access point including:

  • Cylindrical (with and without privacy thumbturn)
  • Mortise (with and without deadbolt)
  • Universal Exit Trim
  • Narrow Stile
  • Controller
  • Magnetic Lock
  • Electric Strike

A wide variety of key override options are available including:

  • Best and compatible small format interchangeable cores
  • Large format removable cores (ASSA®, Medeco®, Yale®, Schlage®, Sargent®, Corbin Ruswin)
  • Conventional cylinders

E-Plex products are also recognized for having long battery life due to Kaba’s long history of efficient power management. Since high-use wireless locks utilize more power and communicate with the network every few seconds, an optional High Capacity Battery Kit using four C size batteries is available in lieu of the standard four AAs. The High Capacity Battery Kit has approximately double the number of cycles as the four AAs.

The E-Plex product families that can be operated using the E-Plex Enterprise Software and converted to wireless include:

E3200/E5200 = PIN Only

E3600/E5600 = PIN and/or Smart Card (Mifare, DESFire, iClass)

E3700/E5700 = PIN and/or PROX Card

The E-Plex family of products are certified to meet BHMA Grade 1 requirements and the UL Three Hour Fire Rating where applicable.

Dealer Certification Required

Kaba allows all locksmiths to purchase E-Plex Locks and software from its distribution partners. However, the purchase of the E-Plex Wireless Lock Kits, and activation of the wireless functionality of the E-Plex Enterprise Software is restricted to E-Plex Wireless Certified Dealers only. E-Plex Enterprise Version 3 Software training includes:

  • How to conduct a site survey for wireless
  • How to configure a gateway
  • How to install an E-Plex Wireless Lock Kit

The E-Plex Enterprise System with the Wireless Option offers the locksmith the opportunity to better prepare for the next 20 years by easily transitioning to more advanced solutions while building on existing knowledge of stand-alone mechanical and electromechanical products. The modular, flexible, and scalable architecture along with the diversified hardware options provide the adaptable locksmith great business potential for many years to come.