Best of 2021: Electronic Access Control

Dec. 1, 2021
Features that deliver ease of use and installation help to make new products that provide electronic security stand out.

Just as it has with other industries, the introduction of electronics into the security industry has resulted in more features and more convenience. With respect to certain high-value locations, electronics also provides more security, and providing security remains job one for the locksmith or security pro.

Electronic access control (EAC), of course, is aimed at allowing only authorized people to unlock a lock and open a door while preventing unauthorized people from doing the same, just as mechanical locking solutions do. However, EAC also provides for instant and remote monitoring, credential issuance and audit reports of all activity. As a result, EAC also delivers “key” control beyond what mechanical systems can provide after a security system reaches a certain size.

Spurred on by the pandemic, touchless access has become an important consideration when determining the safety level of buildings, and electronics certainly allows for hands-free openings when desired.

Naturally, electronics is becoming increasingly important to locksmiths. According to our State of the Industry report, 85.8% of respondents say they expect to include electronic locking solutions to some degree in their product offerings within three years.

Manufacturers continue to vie for position in those locksmith shops and vans, and 2021 saw a large number of electronic locking solutions released into the market, even as product delays as a result of the pandemic pushed a few planned releases into the next year.

Following are EAC solutions that stood out in 2021.

Alarm Lock AirAccess

AirAccess is a cellular-based EAC system from NAPCO Security’s Alarm Lock division.

AirAccess takes Alarm Lock Trilogy Networx and ArchiTech Networx wireless locks and NetPanels, on existing and new installations, to a new real-time platform that combines intuitive cloud-based software and easily networked cellular communications that requires no client network, firewall or ISP access.

The AirAccess App, which includes built-in free mobile credentials, provides an affordable hosted solution aimed at small and medium businesses, from a few doors and users to hundreds of each.

AirAccess is the first cell-based hosted access control system. It’s virtually wire-free from the cloud to the door and uses Alarm Lock access technology plus cellular communications that make the network connections, independent from your customer’s networks, so there are no IT department or ISP issues.

AirAccess’ dependability is built in with a foundation of StarLink Cell Communications and Alarm Lock Trilogy Networx Access Control Locks and Panels that have standard Wiegand readers at the door. You can mix or match.

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BEST Switch Kits

BEST Switch Kits, from dormakaba, are the latest offering of the company’s innovative Switch Tech wireless smart-cylinder technology. The foundation of Switch Tech is the Switch Core, a battery-powered small-format interchangeable core (SFIC) that can provide EAC at any door where a mechanical SFIC is used in the lock. Retrofitting is a simple process of replacing the mechanical core, inserting the battery and setting up the lock through an app.

The Switch Kit consists of five Switch Cores, five fobs and five mobile credentials, along with a battery tool to pop the cap on the Switch Core and replace the battery when necessary. (A CR2077 lithium battery, which can be bought anywhere, like other common batteries, is expected to last two years with normal use.)

The Switch Kit is aimed at facilities that want to introduce EAC on a smaller scale or expand an existing EAC system inexpensively. But it also is aimed at locksmiths and security pros who want to “get their feet wet” with regard to installing EAC without having to worry about wiring, says Dan Stewart, technical business development lead at dormakaba Americas. “Locksmiths have the opportunity to see, ‘this electronic access control isn’t that bad. I’ll continue to grow and deal with it,’” he says.

Originally, Switch Tech was integrated with EAC software providers Lenel and Genetec to deliver access control and audit trails of activity, but Switch Kit is completely app-driven for further ease of use. The app allows a system administrator to change access schedules and credential assignment quickly while monitoring audit trails and even battery levels, Stewart says, by using the cloud for the communication and delivery of the information to the mobile device.

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CyberLock Gen 2

CyberLock released the second generation of its venerable CyberLock cylinder. Being part of the CyberLock system means that the Gen 2 cylinder uses an electronic CyberKey, which energizes the cylinder and allows a lock to open — as long as that key has access privileges to that lock for that day and time.

“Key-scheduling capabilities are big,” says Jorie Nove, a sales and marketing representative of CyberLock. “I could say I want you to have access to these five doors Monday through Friday, 8–5, and outside of that schedule, you’re going to be denied access.”

The Gen 2 cylinder includes a faster processor and expanded memory. The result is CyberLock locks can produce an audit trail of up to the most recent 6,500 events, compared with 1,100 from the older generation.

The Gen 2 cylinder also features AES 256 encryption between the lock and the key, which Nove says is an advance of the older cylinder’s proprietary encryption, and the cylinder can disable unauthorized keys if such a key touches the lock. Gen 2 cylinders also retain CyberLock’s sealed keyway for IP68-rated durability and are drill-resistant and tamper-resistant.

The Gen 2 cylinder works with any of CyberLock’s six second-generation CyberKey smart keys.

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Ditec HA7

The HA7 is the latest model in Entrematic’s Ditec line of low-energy door operators.

It’s aimed at retrofit installations in restrooms, offices and assisted-living facilities, and it can turn a manual door into a touch-free opening by adding a touchless actuator. The slim 1-7/8-inch height allows the HA7 to blend in with the door frame or fit where other operators might not because of low ceilings or other clearance issues.

Two features make the HA7 stand out from an installation standpoint.

It’s compatible with a 120VAC wall outlet and comes with an extension cord, “so, theoretically, anyone can install this operator on a door as long as they have an outlet within 20 feet,” says Dan Wise, technical support specialist at Entrematic. “No electrician is needed. Customers also have the option of concealing the electrical connection in the ceiling or wall if they prefer that look.”

The other feature is the ability to program, set up and control the HA7 through a mobile app. The app can set up an unlimited number of doors but can connect with only one at a time, Wise says. “You can use the app to open or close the door, but for doors that have a high volume of users — for example, restrooms — a push plate or wave plate is the ideal activation method,” he adds.

The HA7 also allows users to have the door operator hold the door open all the way or partially and includes push and go, power assist and stop on stalls as features.

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The HES ES100 is a battery-powered electric strike that ASSA ABLOY is aiming at retrofits where EAC is desired but isn’t already in place. Another target: locksmiths who lack wiring acumen.

“The beautiful thing about wireless electric release is that it cuts down on a lot of issues having to do with where the power is going to come from when you have to run an electric release and pull it through a door frame,” says Larry Schwalb, security engineer at Houdini Lock & Safe in Philadelphia. “A lot of times we’re dealing with mortar and concrete and stone, and that can be difficult.”

The fail-secure ES100 strike has the features of an HES 1500 (latchbolt) or 1600 series (latch and deadbolt) strike and connects with an included Securitron R100 reader through ASSA ABLOY’s Aperio wireless technology. The ES100 can tie into an existing EAC system, thus providing audit trails, through an Aperio hub. The strike features a variety of interchangeable faceplates, which makes it compatible with nearly all cylindrical and mortise locksets, including those from BEST, Marks USA and PDQ.

Although it’s called a wireless strike, installing the ES100 requires connecting a couple wires between the strike and reader and any latch- or door-position-monitoring option — but not hardwiring into the power grid. Instead, power is provided by two AA batteries in the reader. ASSA ABLOY says the ES100 is good for 45,000 cycles — 60-70 per day, Matt Branson, product manager of ASSA ABLOY Electronic Security Hardware estimates — or more than two years under normal use if LR6 lithium-ion batteries are used.

Replacing the batteries is as simple as removing a screw on the reader and then the reader cover. A micro-USB port on the reader provides a 5-volt emergency power source as well as local firmware updates.

The ES100 comes as a pre-paired kit that’s configured in the factory or as field-configurable components. The former means the installer doesn’t have to be Aperio-certified to install the strike, but they will be limited to a single door per hub.

The ES100 accepts a variety of low-frequency (125 kilohertz), high-frequency (13.56 megahertz) and Bluetooth and near field communications credentials, including iCLASS, MIFARE and DESFire cards and fobs and mobile credentials.

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The 6400 COMPACT low-energy door operator is the latest product by Allegion to take modular design into consideration.

In this case, the aim is on retrofitting, because the design allows an installer to incorporate an existing LCN 4040XP mechanical closer into the 6400 COMPACT and turn the door operation electric. All that’s necessary is a mounting plate and four screws. The 6400 COMPACT’s motor gearbox connects directly onto the mechanical closer.

The goal is two-fold says Brad Sweet, commercial marketing leader for Allegion. One is to bring touchless as well as Americans with Disabilities Act conformity to the interior doors of a commercial building. The other is to simplify the installation.

“It’s a one-person job,” he says of installing the 6400 COMPACT. “If there’s an outlet nearby, there’s no need for an electrician,” because the door operator includes a power cord. Sweet adds that the door operator, which includes its own power supply, even uses the same template as the 4040XP.

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Paxton’s latest platform, Paxton10, is aimed at easing the integration of EAC and video surveillance, and the company notes that many users of both don’t have their EAC tied to their video surveillance.

“The reason was the complexity in stitching the two systems together,” says Erin Fujioka, Western regional manager for Paxton. “It’s a hassle. We realized we didn’t make it simple enough and needed to do something about it.”

The Paxton10 platform requires the use of the Paxton10 server that’s connected to the internet through the local area network. From either a computer or mobile app, customers can manage access control, lock doors and view video — live or recorded — through the same system on-site or remotely. They also can do so for multiple sites through Paxton’s encrypted cloud technology.

Paxton10 can include and manage up to 1,000 doors and 1,000 cameras on a single system by adding Paxton10 door controllers, readers (HID card or fob, Bluetooth mobile or keypad) and cameras. Paxton provides several camera options, including dome or bullet models, but Paxton10 also can incorporate third-party IP cameras into the system by connecting up to four cameras to a single Paxton10 video controller.

Paxton10 can integrate with Paxton’s Entry video intercom system and its PaxLock smart locks, in addition to fire and intruder alarms, but it won’t integrate with Paxton’s Net2 EAC platform.

Fujioka says the server is plug and play, with options for PCB (printed circuit board) or Power over Ethernet (PoE) connectivity in addition to low-voltage hardwiring. Door controllers also can be wired or PoE-connected models.

As far as “discovery” and “commissioning,” Fujioka uses the setup of a Paxton10 camera as an example. “You take it out of the box and plug it in,” she says. “That camera will automatically be discovered” by the server through the network. “You give [the camera] a name, press ‘Done,’ and it’s configured. It cannot be simpler.”

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The Neoxx padlock extends real-time electronic security to places never before thought possible: oil fields, utility stations, perimeter gates and the like.

At the heart of the Neoxx is SALTO Systems’ NEO smart cylinder. This means that in addition to bringing mobile credentialing and monitoring to the padlock, the padlock also can be tied into a complete SALTO access control system.

“This is not just an electronic padlock; it’s a complete locking platform,” says Luis Saldana, SALTO’s technical director of North & Latin America.

He notes that using the NEO cylinder necessitated a complete rebuild of the company’s padlock. SALTO enclosed the NEO cylinder and isolated more of the electronics from the elements while building a rubber cover that provides additional protection from weather and physical attack. The massive Neoxx is nearly 7 inches long, including the 2-inch shackle, and weighs more than 2 pounds.

The padlock accepts multiple credentials. These include mobile through Bluetooth or near field communications (Google Android phones) and MIFARE, DESFire or iCLASS Seos prox fobs and cards. Four LR1 batteries provide up to 130,000 cycles.

As far as tying it to a SALTO platform, end users have their choice: BLUEnet, KS, Space and SVN compatibility are enabled. Different systems provide different features, including remote lockdown or opening.

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