How to Upgrade and Upsell Access Control

Dec. 3, 2019

The job of installing and caring for an existing Electronic Access Control (EAC) system requires time, skill, and a fundamental knowledge of the technologies involved, including all applicable fire codes. Leveraging your existing experience with mechanical locks and door hardware, along with EAC technology, creates a dynamic combination, one that is hard to beat. The effort also creates a number of opportunities, assuming that you don’t unnecessarily leave too much cash sitting on the table at the end of the day. 

EAC will increase your daily, and ultimately your monthly, cash flow, thus helping you grow your business over the long term. Not only that, but consumer use of EAC is advancing in the marketplace with each passing day as mechanical lock solutions continue to decrease. The question is, at what point along the way will you decide to add EAC to your income stream? One powerful thought: “It’s better sooner than later.”

Whether the job ahead involves the installation of an entirely new EAC system or the take over of an existing one, the first order of business is to understand the basics as it pertains to electronic entry. We covered some of this in the July, 2018, issue of Locksmith Ledger. If you’re new to EAC, it might be a good idea to read it again (

In this article, we’re going to discuss what it takes to assume responsibility of an existing EAC system. And lastly, we’ll talk about some of the upgrades and upsell opportunities that exist along the way after you’ve installed one.

Assuming Control of an Existing System

There are tons of things to look out for when contemplating the takeover of another security company’s EAC system. The fact is, there are plenty of pitfalls to be aware of, some of which we’ll discuss in this story. Here’s the thing, unless you cover your bases right from the beginning, you’re liable to find yourself in the “red” at the end of the job, and that’s nowhere to be.

The first step is to ask the customer for a past inspection report, or perhaps a copy of the original proposal where you should find a complete list of components. Also, be sure to find out why the prospective client wants to replace the original security company. This should include an accurate account of any problems and issues they may have encountered since the system was installed. After all, you don’t want to repeat the other company’s mistakes.

Last but not least, be sure to visit the job site before you provide a final proposal. Be sure to ascertain whether or not  the system is functional at this time.

“A thorough site inspection is essential for understanding the system being taken over and identifying possible areas for upgrades and expansion. Installers should develop and modify a checklist for system maintenance and takeovers,” says Mark Selent, Locksmith & Security Integrator with Lock Alchemy LLC of Cleveland, Ohio.

You absolutely must know what problems the client is having in order to accurately estimate the cost associated with such a takeover. It’s also critical to know what condition the existing system is in.

Selent continues, “It's nearly impossible to survey an entire system before accepting to take it over. Many hardware items, such as strikes, readers, and magnetic locks, are difficult to move and adjust once installed. There will probably be more service calls and issues that arise than both parties expected. So both parties have to have an accepted and agreed upon system for handling payment for fixing unforeseen problems that may arise.”

Updating and Upgrading 

It’s likely that as you take on more and more existing EAC systems with the intention of assuming responsibility, you’re also going to encounter the need to replace existing door strikes, mag locks, automatic door closers, egress motion detectors, card readers and more. Having a ready source for the most used brands assures that you’ll be able to do so without a lot of muss or fuss.

“We do a site survey for them to determine whether the system meets code. We look at the age of the system, whether the manufacturer still supports it with parts and technical advice, and whether an upgrade will enhance its functionality,” says Keith A. Eaves, security operations manager with Sound Advice & Video  of Cape May Court House, NJ.

Upgrades include the replacement of worn door strikes, keypads, and card readers. So often with older systems that use older card reader technologies, such as magnetic stripe cards, replacements are available that utilize a more modern credential.

In the area of physical access control, a credential is much like a key with ordinary mechanical locks. In this case, this usually requires the replacement of the original card readers at the door(s) with new models capable of accommodating modern electronic identification technologies.

Updating Credentials

Many modern access control credentials are built with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology giving the user a contactless means of interacting with the door. Laminated cards allow for the printing of information on one or both sides, thus allowing for company logo on one side and user ID information on the other. A good example of this can be seen by way of Honeywell’s OmniClassTM and OmniProxTM credentials, both of which uses RFID (

Smart card technology allows your client to store personal identification information relative to each user within the card itself, as in the case of biometric access control. On the other hand, proximity card technology is primarily used to ascertain each user by a unique access code contained in each card. Both card technologies use RFID, thus allowing for contactless interaction, as described earlier.

Anti-counterfeiting also is necessary in some cases because it enables you to verify that the cards in use are  valid. This is accomplished using UV (ultra-violet) fluorescent inks as well as the inclusion of holographic information, such as a company logo.

Another option is the utilization of a Smartphone App that eliminates the need to install access card readers at all. A good example of this technology is ScanPass by Connected Technologies LLC of Monument, CO. Instead of a card reader at each door, you install a barcoded sticker on the glass. The individual who wants to access the door simply scans the barcode with his smartphone and the system magically knows that he is authorized, thus unlocking the door.

Another option is that of biometric readers where the user must apply his finger, thumb, hand, or eye to an optical scanner. If the biometric characteristics are the same as a stored template(s)--within a given percentage of variance--the system will unlock the door and allow him to enter.

HID Global has a unique fingerprint sensor that operates on the basis of multiple-spectral imaging. With that technology, it’s possible for the reader to overlook the effects of aging, dirt, finger pressure, and common environmental conditions. For more info on biometrics, refer to Biometric Basics, published in Locksmith Ledger on Dec. 1, 2015 (

Quality Power and More

System power is always an issue that needs to be addressed C. Also, if you decide to replace their system with a new one, you should pay particular attention to the power supplies that provide electricity to both the door controllers and other elements associated with the system. These supplies should be rated for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) in order to comply with local and national fire code requirements.

Another issue is that of system failure due to lightning strikes as well as power surges caused by things such as industrial parks and manufacturing centers where heavy machinery are in use nearby. In fact, the repeat failure of a client’s access control and fire alarm system due to lightning could be the very reason why they’re looking for another security company to replace their present one. One option is to install a Spike Block, manufactured by Stormin Protection of Saint Petersburg, FL.

According to John Pecore, power quality engineer with Stormin Protection, “The Spike Block is UL listed and is for the power ground or case ground. This the only UL-listed device in the world that will eliminate ground loop problems caused by lightning that causes ground faults or false alarms” (

Another upsell is that of the Tango1B POE-driven power supply equipped with an Iron Lithium Phosphate battery that’s capable of providing both 12 VDC and 24 VDC. This power supply will eliminate the need to install individual power supplies for each door controller at each door. Power is supplied through the same cable that connects an IP, networkable controller to an access control system’s head-end.

“Our new Tango1B totally eliminates the cost of a licensed electrician to install high voltage AC power, and uses cabling that can share the same pathways as networks or other low-voltage systems providing tremendous savings,” said Alan Forman, President, Altronix Corporation. “With this introduction, a technician can have an access control system cost-effectively powered in seconds flat.” The Tango1B is manufactured by Altronix of Brooklyn, NY (

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of other upgrade opportunities where you can help the prospect while making a few dollars. For example, Camden Door Controls of Mississauga, ON, Canada, besides offering an entire  line of access devices, also offers a series of wireless actuator switches for automatic door openers. The thing that makes this product so interesting is there’s no batteries to maintain.

“Kinetic by Camden no-battery wireless systems are compatible with all brands of automatic door operators and are designed to provide reliable door activation in any commercial, industrial, or institutional application,” says David Price, vice president of communication and corporate development with Camden Door Controls.

In closing, mechanical locks have served us and our clients well, and they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. However, the use of EAC is growing with each passing day. In due time, it could become the de facto method of controlling who comes and goes from both businesses and homes. The question on the table here is, if you haven’t yet entered this most lucrative side of the security market, when will you do so? Perhaps it’s time that you take the plunge now.