Powering Up Access Control

Oct. 2, 2020
Manufacturers work on making their power supplies easier to install and fit any system.

Power. You can’t have electronic security without it. That means if your work involves installing or repairing either electronic access control (EAC) or CCTV devices and systems, you likely will come face to face with a power supply at some point.

Power supplies are necessary to power card readers or electric strikes or cameras, among other electronic devices. Typically, they’re hardwired into a facility’s electric system, and equipment is wired to the power supply.

Of course, that begs a question: As the demand for wireless connectivity increases in the security industry — a demand that’s being met increasingly through batteries in door locks and Power over Ethernet (PoE) capability — how does the venerable power supply fit in in an increasingly wireless world?

“That’s a really good question,” says Murray Lewin, senior product manager and site lead at dormakaba brand RCI. He acknowledges the growing popularity of PoE and how it and wireless systems make life easier for the locksmith installing EAC systems. “PoE certainly will take over, and wireless obviously, but there will always be a need for power supplies.”

The simple reason: scale. Kerby Lecka, director of marketing for SDC, agrees.

“PoE is not an end-all, be-all,” he says. “It depends on what the door is being asked to do.” If it’s just a battery-powered lock on a door, that’s one thing. But if it’s full access control with a touchless actuator, that’s another.

Then there’s the scale of the facility itself.

“As you get into large buildings of any description — let’s pick health care — the number of peripherals is mind-boggling,” Lewin says. Lots of devices require lots of power, and, at some point, wired power is the most reliable delivery method, he adds.

Lewin explains that it’s important to keep power supplies close to the devices that they power for several reasons:

  • To avoid running a lot of heavy-gauge wire.
  • To avoid voltage drops.
  • To extend the life of the power supply through improved efficiency.

“Long runs are not encouraged,” Lewin says. “A long run for us would be 100 feet.”

Controlling Access

Power supplies have several facets that are important to keep in mind. The first and most important, of course, is that the power supply provides enough juice to power all of the equipment being asked of it.

Lewin and Lecka agree that after you determine the necessary output voltage—many power supplies today have field-selectable 12- or 24-VDC output—and the total amperage of the equipment to be powered, you build a certain percentage on top of the total for safety before you select the power supply. Lewin suggests a 25 percent increase; Lecka suggests 30 percent.

The second consideration is the equipment to be powered. There’s a difference if the power supply is expected to power CCTV cameras versus EAC systems. Part of that is the amount of equipment being handled. CCTV cameras don’t draw as much power as does, say, a magnetic door lock, so you can string more of them to a single power supply.

But another part is the nature of the power that the different equipment requires.

“Cameras are constant,” Lecka explains. “They take low voltage all the time. An access device takes a surge when it’s activated. It needs a bunch of power in a short time.”

Power supplies that are designed for access control can handle that difference. Most manufacturers let you know which of their power supplies are made to handle EAC equipment, and more new power supplies are made with EAC specifically in mind.

One way is the increased inclusion of a built-in fire panel or fire-alarm interface. It’s called different things by different manufacturers, but the result is the same — to cut the power to electronic door locks if a fire alarm were to go off, so anyone would be able to exit the door during an emergency.

Another is battery backup capability, either built-in or as an option. This feature keeps power applied to electrified openings in the event of a power drop. (Note: This is different from a fire event, during which the fire panel would override the battery backup.)

“If you want to maintain the integrity of the opening, the obvious way to do that is battery backup,” Lewin says.

Following are a few power supplies made with EAC in mind:

LifeSafety Power ProWire series

ProWire power supplies are a plug-and-play solution that’s aimed at the installer, because they come prewired, says Matt Virga, vice president of sales for LifeSafety Power, a division of ASSA ABLOY.

“We began by building the [power supply] cabinet to the highest level of complete that we could in our factory, thereby sending a ready-to-use or hang-on-the-wall solution and save countless hours of labor,” he says. In addition, the wiring would be better, because LSP already has the correct length of color-coded wire, for example, among other components. “What we offered was standardization.”

ProWire power supplies come in four-, eight- and 16-door sizes for AMAG, Mercury and HID access control panels, and LSP recently added a 24-door Mercury power supply.

The latest development is the addition of ProWire XPRESS models, which is a four- and 12-door line of Mercury panel power supplies that are aimed at the low-cost off-the-shelf market, Virga says. These power supplies are just single voltage but have the power, tamper switch, faults and RS485 communications plugs prewired and are aimed at security pros new to power supplies.

“That’s why we did this,” he says. “The regular locksmith guy says, ‘It’s a Mercury system. Now I see how the wiring goes. This isn’t as complicated as I thought it would be,’ and he gets his feet wet.”

What’s next? Virga says PoE connectivity through a midspan injector accessory that will make installation even easier for any security pro was on its way.


  • 20 in. (h) x 16 in. (w) x 4-1/2 in. (D) up to 48 in. (h) x 36 in. (w) x 8 in. (d)
  • Single, dual 12/24 VDC
  • 2A, 3A, 4A, 6A, 10A, 12A, 20A models
  • Rack mount options available
  • UL 294 certified, CE compliant

More info: www.lifesafetypower.com

RCI DKPS series

The RCI DKPS series is a new line of power supplies from the dormakaba brand, and the new series has two features that make it a marked improvement over the previous line. The first is increased amperage capacity. The previous line came in 1-, 3- and 5-amp capacities; the new line has 2-, 4- and 6-amp models.

The other is a built-in fire-panel disconnect board. Previously, it was an optional accessory. “We wanted to make that a standard feature and make sure people know that,” Lewin says.

Lewin further notes that the DKPS series handles the same total amperage regardless of whether it’s used to power 12- or 24-VDC equipment. This reduces the necessity to carry several different models of power supply depending on the job.

Two more features are noteworthy about the DKPS series — built-in battery charging for backup batteries (batteries aren’t included) and a wide assortment of certifications, including UL 294 and CE compliance. The latter speaks to reliability, which is an important consideration, says Scott McNulty, senior product manager, dormakaba Americas.

You want something “that you know will work and be solid and make you look good,” he says. “The last thing you want is that power supply to go down and that maglock to fail.”


  • 12-1/2 in. (h) x 12-1/2 in. (w) x 4 in. (d) up to 17-5/8 in. (h) x 13-5/16 in. (w) x 4-5/16 in. (d)
  • Field-selectable 12/24 VDC
  • Low-battery indicator
  • UL 294 edition 6 certified, ULC 60839-11-1 certified, FCC compliant, CE compliant

More info: www.dormakaba.com

Seco-Larm EAP series

Backup battery power is a big part of Seco-Larm’s EAP series of access control power supplies in that all models in the series have built-in battery chargers. This is important because of the necessity to provide power to electrified door hardware at all times, and Alex Aaron, technical sales at Seco-Larm, says the charger is helpful from a maintenance standpoint.

The charger “will relay output if the battery fails,” he says. “It can give an indication that the battery’s gone bad, so you know you need to replace it.”

The cabinet of the series’ largest model also recently was expanded with battery backup in mind, Aaron adds. Previously, it could hold two 7-amp batteries; now it can hold two 12-amp batteries. Further, a larger cabinet also provides more room for connected options, such as relays.


  • 10-3/4 in. (h) x 7-3/4 in. (w) x 3-9/16 in. (d) up to 14-5/16 in. (h) x 14-13/16 in. (w) x 4-1/8 in. (d)
  • Field-selectable 12/24 VDC
  • 1A, 1.5A, 2.5A, 3A, 5A models

More info: www.seco-larm.com

Altronix Trove Access and Power Integration Solutions

When it comes to access control integration, the Trove line of power supplies by Altronix provides a solution for just about any provider. The latest additions are S2 Security in the Trove2 and Trove3 series and Hartmann Controls in the Trove and Trove2 series. This expands a lineup that includes specific power supplies for AMAG, HID, Honeywell, Mercury, SALTO and others.

“This provides system designers with extreme flexibility and efficiency,” says Ronnie Pennington, Altronix director of sales for the Americas. The purpose is to make combining the power supply with various access control systems as easy as possible. Pennington adds that Trove power supplies can be custom-designed and prewired for the ultimate in plug-and-play installation.

Trove power supplies come in three basic enclosure sizes, rack mounts and an IP66-rated outdoor enclosure to power Lenel or Mercury applications, such as a gate for vehicles. Two optional accessories are worth noting: a midspan that provides PoE output and the LINQ board that allows for remote management and reports diagnostics via email.


  • 15-1/2 in. (h) x 12 in. (w) x 4-1/2 in. (d) up to 36-1/2 in. (h) x 30-1/8 in. (w) x 7-1/16 in. (d)
  • Single, dual 12/24 VDC
  • 3A, 4A, 6A, 10A models
  • 2–36 door capacities, depending on the access control system
  • UL 294 certified, ULC s319-05 certified, CE compliant

More info: www.altronix.com

About the Author

Will Christensen | Senior Editor

Will Christensen is senior editor at Locksmith Ledger International. He has been an editor and reporter at magazines and newspapers for more than 30 years.