Upgrades for Every Opening

March 10, 2023

Wherever possible and practical, it makes sense to migrate your customers to newer door locking solution technologies. Not only does this approach boost security and safety, but it also increases energy efficiency and provides better door management. It also signifies that you’re in sync and up to date with technology, adding value to your business in the eyes of the end-user.

Making the switch to electrified openings is like upgrading from a flip phone to a smartphone -- once you’ve made the change, you’ll wonder how you’ve lived without it. The good news is that ongoing innovation in the door hardware category makes it the perfect time to start on an upgrade path for your customers.

The right time

New technologies make it possible for property owners, managers and security professionals to upgrade from mechanical locks to keyless, electrified and even wireless options that are ultra-secure and cost-effective. For locksmiths, it’s important to embrace digital technologies –these connected devices provide even more opportunity in application, and facilitate the migration to even higher levels of security.

Even traditional mechanical locks, the mainstay of commercial and retail markets, have evolved into sleek, high-security devices. In mechanical products, deadlocks secure narrow-stile aluminum and glass doors in a variety of shapes, features and sizes and stand ready for additional upgrades. For example, battery-operated keyless entry for deadlocks, deadlatches and exit devices can easily be retrofitted with proximity contactless card readers for an elevated level of door protection and access control security.

Notable recent advancements in electrified hardware include greater energy efficiency, stronger locking hardware and compact designs. Wireless products have advanced to offer longer signaling range, better end-to-end encryption (E2EE) and faster transmission speeds.

If you really want to grab a competitive edge, think forward to sustainability. Many end users are looking for sustainable attributes and listings – and door products available can reduce power consumption and re-use the existing infrastructure. According to a 2021 Forbes market report, 47% of engineering and construction executives surveyed worldwide believe sustainability is a key priority or major concern. Sustainable automatic door openers are now available that generate and store their own power.

Selection considerations

When it comes to upgrading, many different technologies and footprints are available to electrify the opening. The key is to evaluate the total cost of ownership (TCO) and select the option that best meets the end-user's needs while complying with codes, regulations or other requirements. Examine not only the cost of purchasing products, but the time and labor to install and maintain/manage the opening. While wireless, installation time and technician labor costs are greatly reduced,  initial costs may be higher. And remember, when you are connected to digital technologies, remote programming and maintenance is also possible, such as rebooting or resetting system power. That’s a big time-and-labor savings.

Put power to openings

For high-traffic, high-security openings, an electromagnetic lock or maglock may be the way to go. For those who prefer to reuse their existing mechanical lockset, electrified trim is another great option. And for those looking for the best of both worlds, electrified locksets are increasingly popular.

Electrified deadbolt/deadlatches combine the access-control capabilities of a latch with the security of a deadbolt. They provide free egress for safe passageway and can be easily integrated into an access control system. 

When retrofitting an existing application, backward compatibility saves time and money during aftermarket upgrades, while also preserving the aesthetics and integrity of the opening. Upgrading from a mechanical to an electrified deadlatch is a viable retrofit solution for a no-cut MS®-prepped narrow stile aluminum application that reuses the existing trim. (MS® Prep is the industry standard lock prep and dominant locking solution for aluminum openings.)

Budget friendly, battery-operated products are a solid choice when pulling wires is too expensive, or not an option because of the existing infrastructure. Battery operated keyless entry solutions provide simple access control for openings that don’t require an audit trail. They accommodate up to 150 users and feature an outdoor-rated keypad that can be programmed in three different modes.

For recordkeeping/audit trails or integration with an online access control system, hardwired or wireless intelligent Aperio® technology may also be retrofitted to suit the application.

Exterior door upgrades

For exterior doors, a variety of configurations are possible thanks to technology advancements:

  • Electric strikes quickly electrify an opening and can be tied into an existing access control system in conjunction with a card reader or keypad.
  • Add an exit device paired with existing trim and an electric strike, or an exit device with electric latch retraction for an easy upgrade.
  • Touch-sense devices operate electromagnetic locks with a light touch, making egress unencumbered for persons of all ages and abilities.

Interior door upgrades

For interior doors, access control is possible while maintaining design aesthetics, including in these applications:

  • Electromagnetic locks can be easily mounted with glass door brackets at the door header of an out-swing doors; a typical user interface would include a keypad or card reader.
  • Wireless readers present an elegant solution for glass entryways by eliminating visible wires and the need for a separate pedestal.
  • Surface mount digital lock systems elegantly yield flexible, keyless access control for single or pairs of all glass doors. Designed for indoor applications, they combine aesthetics with the latest touchscreen technology for style and security.

Start down the path

Management of facilities is growing more complex due to increasing number and sophistication of building systems and materials, along with the variety of users and the multiple security levels each requires. Users’ expectations have risen, driving demand for safe and easier access to spaces (in and outside of buildings), coupled with more aggressive security measures. And on the heels of a pandemic, reduction of germ transmission is a high expectation on nearly every occupant’s list. Electrified hardware locking and wireless are solutions ready to meet all these challenges.

Of course, each project is unique and requires a thorough walk-through, site inspection and consultation before any products are chosen. Also consider geography, climate and code compliance in the selection of electrified hardware. As always, consult the appropriate AHJ for any specific requirements, amendments or local standards specific to the occupancy where the work will be performed.

The options are nearly limitless as you work to provide your customers the best protection for their facility. Electrifying hardware is the right path to achieving higher levels of security and safety, and moving to access control and other digital and connected door technologies.

Patrick Hill, PSP, CWTS, is product manager - Digital Products and Specialty Locks for ASSA ABLOY Electromechanical Solutions, Phoenix, Arizona. 

About the Author

Patrick Hill

Patrick Hill, PSP, CWTS, is product manager - Digital Products and Specialty Locks for ASSA ABLOY Electromechanical Solutions, Phoenix, Arizona.