When we think of electronic access control (EAC), we typically think in terms of host computers, cloud-based SaaS platforms, printers, network bridges, PoE Switches, readers and the many types of credentials that clients might want.
“We rarely give the accessories much thought, not to say we ignore them altogether,” says Nick Markowitz, owner of Markowitz Electric & Integration in Verona, Pennsylvania. “But when you stop and think about it, much of the top end rides on the effectiveness and quality of the accessories at the bottom. This is where the wear and tear on an access system really occurs.”
In this story, we’ll present a few of the accessories that are used every day, sometimes without a thought about it. We’ll look at common demands, cures and best practices with regard to these accessories.
Security Starts at the Door
Security pros know and understand the importance of each and every perimeter door in a customer’s commercial, industrial and institutional facility. Because these doors get a lot of wear and tear, so do the accessories on them.
Probably one of the most notorious accessories for this is the ordinary door cord that links door-mounted electrified locks, strikes and other devices to an EAC door controller. For example, many EAC system designers might call for rubberized door cords. This is particularly true of installers or companies that began their work in security within the commercial intrusion-detection portion of the industry. In this venue, rubberized door cords are common.
“Eventually, rubber door cords can fray or pull out of the end caps,” Markowitz says. “That’s why it’s wise to use metal armored door cords. I rarely have to replace one, which means the doors I place them on work longer without a problem, and my customers like that.”
An example of this is the steel-jacketed door cord, such as the 18-inch DL-1 or the DL-2 made by Alarm Controls, an ASSA ABLOY company. Whereas the DL-1 uses plastic end caps, the DL-2 uses caps made of an aluminum alloy. This type of cord resists abrasion and physical damage for longer periods than rubberized counterparts.
There is an alternate choice. In place of externalized door cords, you can install transfer devices on the hinge side of the door. This is a handy solution when the type of activities that occur at a specific opening warrant this extra protection. Adams Rite, another ASSA ABLOY company, offers the 4612 Power Transfer Device, which is designed to channel electrical power from the door frame into the door itself. This is a handy item when it comes to powering and controlling locks and exit devices while limiting wear and tear.
EAC systems rely on electrified locks to secure crucial entry points on a building’s perimeter. Although traditional electromagnetic locks typically aren’t thought of as an accessory, when mainstream models don’t work on a specific door, special-order maglocks might be necessary.
“To me, an electrified lock is something you have to choose, so it falls within the realm of an accessory,” says Steve Norch, owner of Bierly-Litman Lock & Door of Canton, Ohio. “It’s kind of like having a car. Yes, the car has tires when you buy it, but sooner or later, they’re going to wear out, and you’re going to have to choose another set.”
One example is the Dortronics ML-1100 Mortise Lock & Pull. Rather than install a large, gaudy maglock atop an aluminum glass door, this narrow, shallow version is recessed into the edge of a narrow aluminum door frame. It measures 10-7/8-by-1-1/2-by-1-3/8 inches. The other thing is, instead of installing an external maglock atop a door, which might allow access through racking, this lock mounts behind the door pull and provides 1,000 pounds of holding force.
On the electric-strike side of special-order electrified locks is the SD-991A-D1Q Mini No-Cut Electric Door Strike manufactured by SECO-LARM. This 12VDC, nonhanded electric strike converts cylindrical locksets into an electronic access-controlled locking system that features fail-secure operation. The best part is, you won’t have to install other required door accessories to comply with local and state fire codes as you do when using a maglock. This is because egress is achieved through an instinctive, single action by using the mechanical lockset itself.
There are plenty of outdoor applications where electrified locking hardware is necessary. One such application is that of outdoor pools. Not only must an electrified lock be waterproof, but it also most often must fit on or into a narrow gate. In addition, it must or should be vandalproof, all of which make it a tall order to fill.
“If it’s a pool, most of the time they must have a panic egress to get out, like the hotels and such,” Norch says. “They [often] use a panic bar with a rim strike. We use the SECO-LARM [electrified] strike. We installed one at a local country club where the fence is only four feet high. We couldn’t really do the panic bar for egress, so we installed a pedestal with a kill button on it. In this case, we ended up using a mag lock. Even though a weatherproof maglock doesn’t match up perfectly, it’s strong enough to hold the gate in place.”
Trine Access Technology also manufactures an outdoor-rated electrified gate solution — the EN400CMRP. It comes with a gatebox that essentially works in tandem with a common, ordinary mechanical cylindrical or mortise lock when one is employed. Replacing this type of lock eliminates the necessity for a key, which allows the hotel or other business to automate the EAC process by using an access reader and credential. The electrified latch can be used with a rim panic exit device as well, as Norch notes.
Many accessories provide support for maglocks, electric strikes and solenoid locking hardware. One is the full-wave bridge rectifier that allows you to replace an old AC door strike with a DC model.
“You can replace the AC transformer with one that has a DC output, which I sometimes do, but it’s also possible to leave the existing AC transformer in place by installing a simple and easy-to-connect rectifier,” Markowitz says. “A rectifier simply converts AC into a DC voltage. But it’s important to be aware of the voltage of the existing transformer.”
Examples include Adam Rite’s 4603 Rectifier and Trine’s LC100, which convert low-voltage AC current into DC of the same voltage. You simply install the device in the low-voltage line between the existing transformer and the new DC-powered strike. Because of its full-wave, bridge design, the rectifier delivers 2 amps of quality DC voltage.
There’s one possible problem with doing this, however. Where AC-operated strikes typically buzz, DC models typically don’t. That might not be an operational problem for you as an installer, but for the end user, it certainly can be confusing. How is a user to know when the door is unlocked if they can’t hear it? One solution is to install a small sounder, such as a piezo-alert or miniature buzzer, in the frame with the strike, so when it’s activated, the user will hear it. Trine, SECO-LARM and Adams Rite, among others, offer small sounders for this purpose.
In closing, the list of EAC accessories is endless, certainly longer and more diverse than we have room to cover in this story, and the list of manufacturers that offer them is just as big. Thus, sometime in the future we’ll do a follow-up on the many additional accessories and manufacturers that work to make our lives easier as locksmiths and help us to install more-effective EAC systems.