Residential multifamily is a growing category and these diverse structures represent an excellent opportunity for locksmiths. Key systems, parking control, life safety, security and video surveillance are among the products and services apartment and condominium complexes require. Perhaps the low-hanging fruit in multifamily will be the inevitable transition from mechanical to electronic locks.
When I think of multifamily lock systems, I always recall the nightmare project we undertook years ago for a new client. The masterkey system used non-patented keys and low-end locks and the rekeying was done at the tenants’ whim. Apparently, the previous owner of this massive building site did not have a reliable in-house locksmith, nor a handle on what was being done with the key system.
Our shop took on the project to “clean up” the key system. We were hired to identify the key to each suite, determine how it fit into the master system, make copies as required, and rekey when necessary. I do believe every transgression of the Locksmith’s Guide to Masterkeying was committed on this job, making it a time-consuming and frustrating walk on the wild side.
Of course, the appeal of large multifamily is the high concentration of locks and security hardware, which frequently require servicing and upgrades as tenants come and go.
Entering the multifamily arena does not necessarily require the locksmith to be a multi-discipline magician; you can emphasize your strengths, be conscientious and sub out to contractors as needed..
The clients and the locksmiths both want to streamline the processes of identifying service issues and knowing who to call to get them resolved. The fewer calls, the better. I always thought “trust” was the most valuable asset.
Multifamily housing types may include duplexes, townhomes, condominiums, apartments, short-term rentals and mixed-use developments. In some cases, individual owners are responsible for their door locks, but a management company or homeowner association maintains common areas like entry gates, swim and tennis, mailrooms, gyms and laundry facilities. In others (particularly apartment complexes), management is charged with rekeying between tenants.
Multifamily is a prime market for making the switch from mechanical to electronic, and dormakaba is poised to facilitate that switch, according to Bobby Welliver, AVP Multihousing, dormakaba.
dormakaba retrofit lock options include all of the parts needed (strike plates, underplates, thick door kits etc.) to make things as straightforward and as easy as possible, Welliver said, and having the right product from the start can avoid heavy door and jamb modifications in the field.
“When it comes to retrofits, as the manufacturer, dormakaba always focuses on what the migration path looks like and what products will be needed to make things as simple as possible for the installer,” Welliver added. “We build this path right from the start of any retrofit. Our depth of product, knowledge of the market and 150+ years in the business differentiate us from the competition.”
dormakaba’s multifamily line includes the following products:
SAFLOK MT RFID. The MT RFID is a full-body electronic lock that offers contactless and mobile access technology to enhance guest convenience and improve operational efficiency. This Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) capable lock can operate using the dormakaba Mobile Access Solutions, allowing guests to use their mobile devices as their room key.
Saffire LX Series. The series offers contactless reader technology designed to enhance access control convenience for residents and improve operational efficiency for property managers. It is available in a suite of versatile models that combine high performance with aesthetics to harmonize with progressive building technology and amenities including the option of issuing mobile, fob, wristband or keycard credentials.
The Saffire LX comes with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) included. Using the dormakaba Mobile Access Solution, residents can conveniently use their mobile device with Saffire to access their residence, as well as perimeter, elevator, parking and other common areas.
- Mortise – LX-M
- Deadbolt – LX-D
- Interconnected – LX-I
- Panic – LX-P
- Latch – LX-L
Saffire EVO LZ-I Series. The Saffire EVO LZ Series are cloud-connected locks that combine high-performance with aesthetics that seamlessly integrate with building technology providers and amenities for multihousing properties. The Saffire EVO LZ locks provide the convenience of using either mobile devices, RFID credentials or secure PINs for access to resident units, common areas and perimeter doors.
- Mortise – LZ-M
- Deadbolt – LZ-D
- Interconnected – LZ-I
- Panic – LZ-P
- Latch – LZ-
Codelocks Multifamily Products
Matt Welty, vice president, Codelocks, noted that it’s important to select a multifamily solution that meets the needs of the application, fits the budget/financial needs, and provides flexibility moving forward. Of course, full compliance with fire/life safety/building codes is crucial.
When making the change, there are many different technologies that are available to choose from. In most cases, the ones that offer more sophistication/more features come with a higher price tag, Welty noted.
A larger property with more tenants/users, more frequent tenant/employee turnover, and the need for remote assignment of access rights would typically require a more sophisticated solution. However, smaller properties with fewer units, less turnover, and onsite management would be able to operate with a less sophisticated/less expensive solution.
Codelocks solutions, like the CL5510/5550 managed by an app, are well suited for smaller properties. They provide a lot of flexibility and are priced well below most of the other options available. Additionally, it has a three-hour fire rating with UL, so it can be used on any door regardless of the fire rating.
Altronix offers a wide selection of security power and integration solutions that further increase system capacity while reducing the required footprint for wall or rack installations, reducing overall equipment and installation costs. These solutions are ideal for access control and video security applications, helping to facilitate a cost-effective transition from mechanical to electronic security at multifamily properties, according to Ronnie Pennington, director of sales.
Two specific examples include Altronix Tango PoE-driven power supply/chargers and NetWay 802.3bt Midspans.
Traditional power supplies, hardwired with high voltage are typically used for the deployment of electrified locks. These power supplies generally take 115VAC/220VAC power input and reduce this to a 12VDC or 24VDC output. That single output is then connected to a distribution board where the electrified locks are connected. Most jurisdictions require that this power input be hardwired with a dedicated circuit. Due to the need for high voltage, a certified electrician must be used for this type of installation.
Security installers that are required to provide high voltage in their scope of work increases the cost of their installation. The installation now requires dedicated conduit runs for the electrical as well as expensive large gauge copper and dedicated circuit breakers. After initial installation, regulatory compliance may also be required to service the system.
The new 802.3bt 4PPoE standard helps curtail the costs outlined above, while streamlining installation.
Altronix Tango allows 12VDC and 24VDC low voltage security devices to be powered simultaneously via 802.3bt PoE input. Unlike Hi-PoE (60W), 802.3bt uses all four pairs of wire in a structured cable to evenly distribute power. PoE injectors such as Altronix Netway Midspans can supply 802.3bt to the Tango board, eliminating the need for multiple individual power injectors for larger projects.
Multifamily housing brings extra challenges for safety and security, because the exterior doors are shared by all the residents. Electronic locks bring many advantages over mechanical locks in such a setting, in large part because they can be integrated with access control systems, which can be easily updated when people move, or when access credentials are lost or stolen without requiring mechanical rekeying. This reason alone is enough to install electronic locks, but there are other benefits as well, said Skip Burnham, national sales manager, Dortronics.
He lists five benefits that are easily obtained with electronic locks that are difficult to secure with mechanical locking systems:
1. Electronic locks support the retention of access records in case they are needed for investigations or prosecutions.
2. Electronic locks can be equipped with door-open sensors to provide feedback about blocked, propped, and malfunctioning doors, facilitating corrective action.
3. Electronic locks can be easily integrated with ADA-compliant buttons and opening systems, making the housing much more .
4. Electronic locks can be easily integrated with emergency systems, including fire alarms and fire doors, and can facilitate better access for firefighters and other first responders while allowing for efficient evacuations.
5. Electronic locks can be easily integrated with video intercoms and doorbells to make it easier for visitors to contact residents and enter.
Transitioning to electronic locks is easy with the 3300 Series Electric Strikes from Dortronics, Burnham noted. These strikes feature heavy-duty construction to stand up to the expected high usage in multifamily housing, function with either 12- or 24-volt systems, and can be configured easily to fail safe or secure in the case of power outages. Optional latch monitors support more sophisticated integrations, and they install easily into aluminum, hollow metal, or wooden doorframes.
ASSA ABLOY Multifamily
ASSA ABLOY offers a wide variety of products for multifamily. For interior doors, the Securitron DK-12 keypad offers offline capabilities with the convenience and flexibility of PIN code credentials, ideal for restricted access applications.
As glass entryways represent a sizable investment in a building’s visual appeal, it can be challenging to add access control without compromising aesthetics. The Securitron M680E electromagnetic lock can be easily mounted with glass door brackets at the door header of out-swing doors; a typical user interface would include a keypad or card reader. A Securitron R100 wireless reader offers an elegant solution for glass entryways by eliminating visible wires and the need for a pedestal.
For exterior doors, upgrading from a mechanical deadlatch to an Adams Rite 4300 electrified deadlatch, with compatible deadlatch trim including paddles and levers, is a great solution for retrofit applications where reusing existing trim is preferred.
The Adams Rite DL100 provides real-time access control for a portion of the cost of a hard-wired solution.
Adding an Adams Rite 8000 Series exit device paired with existing trim and an electric strike, or an exit device with electric latch retraction, is an easy upgrade.
Access control can be scaled from traditional devices to hardwired devices or wireless devices based upon application, customer needs, local codes and budgets. Most Adams Rite solutions are compatible with the traditional MS prep which saves time and money during aftermarket upgrades and preserves the aesthetics and integrity of the opening.
HES electric strikes quickly electrify an opening and can be tied into an existing access control system in conjunction with a card reader or keypad. The 9600 is a surface-mounted, windstorm-rated solution. The 1600 offers dynamic integrated adjustability and field configurable options compatible with any cylindrical or mortise lock.
For exterior gate/pool entrances, the new Securitron DR100 is the industry’s first wireless multiclass reader with relays. This unique product, paired alongside Securitron’s GL1 outdoor-rated gate lock, makes for an ideal solution for any exterior gate application.
Hager provides mobile credentials for multifamily / multi-use buildings that incorporate both commercial and residential spaces. Two platforms are available for mobile credentials.
1. Cloud-based access control systems are usually online all the time and allow openings to be controlled either remotely through a mobile app or locally with users unlocking doors with their smartphones as credentials.
2. In the server-based world, building administrators can use mobile apps and credentials in a variety of ways without requiring all locking devices to be wired or wireless. This can result in a huge savings in capital infrastructure costs. Mobile credentials can be used with wired, wireless, and offline battery-operated locking devices – all managed under one software system.
While many access control systems limit mobile credential use to wired readers, Hager’s HS4 system allows their use on multiple locking devices as well.
- Available in multiple finishes including the currently popular black finish.
- Allows for easy access right changes without having to visit administration offices.
- Battery alerts are communicated back to the software – even from offline locks.
- No annual software licensing fees with up to 4 million users.
D&D Technologies’ LokkLatch Pro is a self-locking security latch ideal for apartments, condominiums and gated communities. Not only can this latch be operated and locked from sides of the gate, but when the latch closes it will lock automatically for added security.
The LokkLatch Pro.SL features a rekeyable keyway to match other household doors and comes in keyed different and keyed alike options.
The tough and durable latch is made from industrial-strength, rust-free polymers and stainless-steel components. All models have side-fixing legs, with vinyl models having extended side-fixing legs for easy installation along with vertical and horizontal adjustments.