Upgrading from Mechanical to Electrified Openings

July 3, 2017
New access control and locking technologies offer effective and affordable mechanical-to-electronic upgrade paths

Property owners, managers, and security professionals often must choose between enterprise-level access control systems that are too expensive and complex for their needs and key-based mechanical locks that don’t offer any accountability or audit trail. Many situations, especially with older buildings and door-dense environments, require the management of brass keys and key sets, and this makes it difficult for tenants, employees, visitors and contractors to access areas and maintain an appropriate level of security.

Thanks to advancements in hardwired/wireless technologies, battery-operated access control devices, and contactless card reader integration, it is now possible to deploy secure, manageable, cost-effective, keyless entry control systems that don’t require a complex and expensive infrastructure — providing a perfect path for upgrading door openings.

"Making the move to electrified openings doesn’t have to be difficult," said Heather Goldman, Senior Product Manager, Adams Rite. "There is a wide range of products today that make the upgrade path easy by offering products for aluminum and glass storefronts that can upgrade doors and improve the safety and security of a business."

A Range of Upgrade Options

There are many options for upgrading a mechanical opening to include access control. The benefits of the various options must be evaluated by looking at the total cost of ownership of the project. Often, the last ten feet of finish work around the opening is the most expensive part of the installation. To optimize budget, to meet end-user needs, and comply with local codes, access control may be scaled from traditional devices to hardwired devices or wireless devices based on their application.

An electromagnetic lock or maglock is an excellent option for electrifying high-traffic and high-security openings. Electrified trim is great for applications where reusing the existing mechanical lockset is preferred. More and more applications are utilizing electrified locksets. A quick internet search or a visit to a local security hardware distributor yields numerous options in various form factors for aluminum, hollow metal or wood door types.

"When retrofitting an existing application, users often have a purely mechanical lock on a door, and they want to upgrade to an electrified solution, and they're looking for things to be backward compatible," said Goldman. "Backward compatibility means being able to take out a purely mechanical lock and install an electrified lock or electrified latch, while the prep of the door remains the same. Adams Rite has always focused on designing locks and latches that are compatible with the traditional Adams Rite MS prep, which saves a great deal of time and money during aftermarket upgrades, and preserves the aesthetics and integrity of the opening."

A good example is that many users have a mechanical exit device and want to add access control to the opening without installing an expensive access control system. An easy way to do this is to electrify the trim. A good option is the Adams Rite eForce Keyless Entry battery-operated control system, which provides access control for existing deadlocks, deadlatches, and exit devices. The device can accommodate up to 150 users, including master, supervisor, and emergency users, plus two one-time codes. The system can operate in three modes: Standard, Passage, and Lockout. All programming is accomplished easily via the keypad.

On the commercial side, many users who have just moved into a new storefront location and want to know the easiest way to electrify the opening. The easiest was to electrify a narrow stile aluminum opening is to use something like the Adams Rite Steel Hawk 4300 Electrified Deadlatch (eLatch). This product combines non-handed, narrow backset, mechanical locking hardware with electrified access control while working within standard narrow stile aluminum MS door prep. Electrically-rated for continuous duty for timed applications, the 4300 Electrified Deadlatch interfaces easily with access control systems.

Electromechanical and Electronic Locks

The increased demand for electromechanical products is a clear trend, with customers looking for total security solutions and flexible environments with convenient digital technology. It’s best to select products that meet open standards to facilitate integration with the customer's other security and administrative systems.

Leading electromechanical locking solutions can be aligned to special security requirements. A wide range of different technologies, devices, and systems are available. From electric locks and latches (which offer the best solution for high-security applications for narrow profile and modular doors) to electric strikes and electromagnetic locks, the solutions provide an additional level of protection and convenience.

"Battery-operated products are a good option when pulling wires is cost prohibitive. If you don't have the budget to wire the whole opening, but the application needs the features of standalone access control, battery-operated trim is a great option," said Goldman. "If you need something with audit trail capabilities or something that integrates into an access control system, you're either looking at a wired solution, or you're looking at wireless Aperio technology, but much depends on the application requirements and project budget."

Upgraded Benefits

Dedicated security solutions mean property managers and owners can leverage their community for easy management of access rights, increased security, and reduced maintenance. Occupants and staff can access buildings using a card or fob that carries system data, such as access rights and audit trails to and from the units or spaces they access. Based upon the access control system structure, access rights may be updated when a resident or staff member presents their credential when entering the building.

When you consider that most facilities don't have an IT staff, or full-time security personnel, these tools become invaluable in helping management meet their security needs while controlling the costs associated with access management.

A Note on Compliance

"Functionality and code compliance have to go hand in hand with upgrades. We offer a product, for example, the Adams Rite 2190, that has a deadbolt and latch bolt that are interconnected," said Goldman. "What this means is that from the outside, the user has access control capabilities with the electrified version of the product and can therefore control who's entering the opening, but from the inside, occupants can always leave, regardless if they have a key or not, providing free egress."

When making upgrades, it's critical to remember that geography, climate, application and other factors play a big role in code compliance. Always consult with local AHJ for more information. Managers must consider which elements and what level of access control is required to provide safety and security, given the particular application.

Because every opening is different based on its usage, employing a single solution configuration throughout a facility doesn't always make sense. Careful consideration of each opening based on usage requirements allows proper selection of access control, enhancing the security of a facility and keeping costs in line.

By providing the customer with the best possible information and assisting them in understanding their access control and upgrade path options, the customer can make informed decisions, and easily deploy a new, enhanced level of safety, security, control and accountability for their building or facility.