Here at Nortech we have been heavily involved in the British security industry for around 30 years, providing countless knowledge, insight and solutions throughout the UK.
We aim to further help users and businesses understand and comprehend the often over complicated security industry by breaking down topics into digestible security blogs and content.
As a proud member of the BSIA (British Security Industry Association), we have helped numerous industries and companies find the right security solution for them, from vehicle access control, to all forms of people access control, CCTV and everything in between.
Without further ado, let’s look at access control system costs and a few factors that might have an impact on the overall cost. It is important to note that every business will have its own pricing due to these factors and no two jobs are the same.
In this access control guide we will be covering:
- Access Control Key Terms
- Factors that Affect Access Control System Cost
- The Cost to Get an Access Control System Installed
- Access Control System Example Quote
- Deciding on the Right Access Control System for You
Access Control Glossary
To help keep this article focused and concise, we will put up a handful of key terms that will be used throughout access control and ones we may sprinkle within this guide.
Credential - the way a user is identified by the access control system, this is often referred to as a digital key, but could also be their finger print in a biometric system. Issuance of user credentials is managed by the system administrator and should be controlled by the management software.
People Access Control - the main focus of our article today, this is how pedestrians and people on foot gain access to an area. There are a few types which we will briefly cover in the following section.
Reader - often called a scanner, this is how a user’s credentials are collected and access is either permitted or denied. For all ‘people access control’ examples, the user has to be within close proximity of the door to gain access, remote access is rarely used, for obvious security reasons.
Vehicle Access Control - different forms of access control that help monitor vehicles and restrict unauthorised vehicles entering a premises. This can be anything from automatic licence plate recognition to car park monitoring. To find out more about vehicle access control follow the link.
Top 5 Factors That Impact the Cost of Access Control Systems
In this section, we will be looking at some of the biggest factors that can affect the cost of your access control system. This is not to say that they are a huge expense, more just to highlight different things that will set one quote apart from another.
Factor 1 - Job Complexity
One of the most important factors when it comes to access control installation cost is job complexity. Simply put, this is how difficult it will be to install the system at the chosen location or locations.
As with anything, the bigger the job, the more cost you will incur, the price per unit will sometimes be affected when it is a larger order and economies of scale (reduced price for bulk) could be applied.
A couple of things you should be aware of that affect the complexity of the job are as follows:
Amount of Entrances and Exits
Needless to say, the amount of entry and exit points will have a huge weighting on your overall cost. If you are looking at installing 10 access control doors within your business, you will obviously be paying much more than someone looking to install 2.
With additional doors being fitted, you will be incurring additional labour costs and materials, so you will be increasing your overall price in a couple of different ways.
The Type of Access Control You Opt For
The job complexity will be greatly affected by the type of access control you choose to install at your business. The actual installation of one access control system versus another can be drastically different.
If you are interested in adding additional layers of security or opting for surplus features such as anti-passback, you will also have a higher quote. Some access control systems allow for more customisation than others which will incur a higher complexity and thus higher cost.
Factor 2 - Access Control System Type
If this is your first time looking into access control systems or are not familiar with the market, you may not realise that there are a variety of access control types, each with their own preferential usage.
The prices below give a rough idea of how much each system’s hardware would cost to install. With that being said, let’s quickly look at some of the most popular access control types:
Key Fob Access Control
Key fobs are one of the most common forms of access control and as the name suggests, users will tap a small, often circular key fob against a reader on a door or gate that will determine if they are eligible to enter or exit in a couple of seconds.
£350 to £1000 per door
£5 (average cost) per issued fob
Proximity Card Access Control
In a similar form of security as the above, proximity cards are held in front of the scanner for a second or two to be read and the user to be identified. This is the same technology that a lot of hotels use for their ‘room keys’ where you would get your room unlock code applied to a blank card that lets you open your room.
£350 to £1000 per door (on average)
£5 per issued card
Passcode or PIN Access Control
In this type of access control, personal identification numbers (PIN) or passcodes are used to gain entry to the doors, this will often use a standard keypad and be either 4 or 6 digits as the norm.
These codes are often required to be rotated for additional security, this will happen every few weeks or so.
- £350 to £1000 per door
- No per user cost as the pad is where credentials (personal identification) are entered.
Biometric Access Control
Often seen as the most high-tech and one of the more expensive options, biometric access control is used a lot more widely than people think; In fact, theme parks have started using biometric access control at their front entrances.
This is where the user’s unique biological identifiers are used to gain access to the door, typically this will be a finger print but can also be a retinal scan.
- £1000+ per biometric door
- No variable cost as each user will not need to be issued a credential
Factor 3 - Automation Level
Regardless of how automated you want your access control system, there will still be some level of human involvement in the process at some point.
Even if that is just limited to the administrator in charge of inputting the data and issuing the access control credentials, the customer service or reception issuing the cards, or the security guards ensuring that everything is running smoothly.
The level of automation that you are interested in will have an impact on the cost of the access control system. Some systems can be very simple and require very little human intervention, but some forms may require more management.
When it comes to vehicle access control, there can often be a higher need for intervention.
No access control can be fully automated, but there are definitely different levels, ideally if everything is running smoothly and you infrequently need new credentials issued, the system can run autonomously for extended periods.
The whole concept of access control is to make the process of entry and exit much more automated, less manual, more secure and trackable.
There are countless benefits to installing an access control system, but at the end of the day, it should make your life easier, as is the goal with all technology.
Factor 4 - Size of Company
It would be naive to think that installing more advanced systems on more doors would be more cost effective than a smaller business, regardless of any large order discounts applied.
This links into the previous sections, as the company size will have some impact on the overall cost of your access control system for a few different reasons. Let’s look at a few of these briefly:
Number of Employees - this will not have as much impact for certain types of access control, but ones where an ID, key fob or other type of physical keycard is issued, there will be a variable cost for each one issued.
Guest Access - when it comes to large companies, there is often the want, or need for guest access control options, whether this is temporary access solutions or additional key fobs or cards that can be used on a short term basis.
Number of Doors - as we looked at in job complexity, the amount of points of ingress and egress (entry and exit) will be affected by the size of your company. You may have more entrances that you need covered, or even internal doors that need to be secured.
Vehicle Access Control - although this is not always the case, larger companies looking at installing people access control solutions will often enquire about the access control options available for vehicles too. This will obviously have an impact on the end quote and increase the cost if more options are opted for.
Factor 5 - Your Location
Unsurprisingly, your location will have an impact on how much your access control system costs to install. Some people fail to account for the pricing difference of installing access control in London as opposed to a rural town in the North of England.
There are a lot of sub-factors that come into play based on location:
Level of Competition - as we all know, when it comes to business, if there are a lot of people offering the same service the cost will often be much better for the customer. This is the same across all industries to an extent, just be careful if someone is charging much below or above the standard market rate.
Types of Access Control Available - just because there are multiple access control options available on the market does not mean that your local installer will be able to install them all or even have access to the parts required. This is something to consider and discuss with your local experts.
Accessibility of Your Location - the actual location where you want the installer to deploy your access control systems can actually have an impact. This may be an extreme example, but if you live on the top of a mountain or in a heavily remote area, you will be charged for the person’s time to come and install it.
City vs Rural - companies fail to account for the disparity in costs in one location versus another one. For example, it would be impossible to find the same price for anything in London as you would outside of it, as a basic rule of thumb. This goes for most major cities in the UK, as opposed to their rural counterparts.
Current Security Measures in Place - needless to say, if you already have some form of security that needs to be adapted or changed to work with the access control system, then this will have an impact on the cost. As a rule, a lot do work well with others, but it varies.
How Much Does it Cost to Get an Access Control System Installed?
As we have discussed in the above section, there are a lot of factors that can affect the cost of an access control system. Despite these different factors an access control system is not out of most companies' price range, and there are options for all business sizes.
So how much does it actually cost to install an access control system? The contributing costs include:
- Software set up
- Door reader
- Door hardware (parts, sensors, etc.)
- Issuance of credentials (tangible vs intangible will affect cost)
- Installer’s time
- Current security systems or back end software (If it needs to be integrated or updated)
As you can imagine, it is hard to pinpoint the exact cost for each business as there are so many variables and factors we did not cover in the above points. Some other factors that might affect the price either positively or negatively would be:
- The chosen model or brand (within the type of access control you decide on)
- Integrating current security systems (i.e. linking CCTV cameras as a form of two-factor authentication)
- Adding additional features and functionality to your access control system (upgrading the solution to fit your unique needs)
Access control systems have been implemented successfully in a whole range of businesses across the world, regardless of their size. There are solutions that work well for all industries, with some that work better for X, Y or Z.
It is important to know the budget you have for your access control solution, but also understand the value that the system could provide you when it has been deployed.
Regardless of the type of access control system you look at, it is important to do your research then you will be better prepared to discuss your options with a security expert.
Estimating the Cost of an Access Control System
As we have discussed across this guide, there are so many things that can affect how much one business would spend on an access control solution vs another.
With this being said, we can give a very rough idea of the costs that might be involved in with an example below:
Let’s look at a medium sized business with 50 employees, implementing key fob access control and with the need for guest or visitor passes.
Per External Door Access Control Cost - £500 - £1000 x 4 Doors
Per Internal Doors - £350 - £800 per door x 3 (Areas that require additional security within the business)
Issuing Credentials to Staff - £1.50 - £3 per person x 50 employees
Visitor Passes (Optional) - Additional cost of £1.50 - £3 per card
Maintenance (Yearly) - £100 - £150
Repair Costs (As needed) - Average Cost of £100
It is important to note that all of the factors we have discussed in this guide will have weighting on the overall cost, and the above is just to give more context and shed some light on the kind of costs that are involved in an example scenario.
As we have said, each access control system and business case will be unique, so if you are looking for the most accurate quote for you, feel free to reach out to our UK based access control team.
Access Control Value & Cost Analysis
Needless to say, access control systems are worth the investment for the majority of businesses who are interested and there are very few instances where they would not be viable, and this is often due to incorrect type of access control wanted by the business.
Access control systems are a great investment that not only keeps your business safe, but your employees, stakeholders, guests and even makes entry and exit easier for everyone involved.
Being able to limit outsider or intruder access while simultaneously keeping your employees and business secure are just some examples of the benefits that add value to an access control system.
As technology continues to evolve and improve, access control systems and security as a whole has become much more viable for businesses of all sizes.
Finding the Right Access Control System for You
Hopefully, by this point, you have a better idea of the factors that affect access control costs, more base information on the systems and have had some light shed on the topic.
No two businesses are the same and therefore two jobs will not be alike, with this being said, this article should give a better idea of the variables that go into pricing an access control job.
Regardless of your business size, you will be able to find value in an access control solution, whether it is vehicle access control in your car park or people access control within your buildings.
From additional security, to less likelihood of external and internal threats, to easier management, there are a ton of different benefits when you install an access control system.
How We Can Help You
At Nortech, we are passionate about providing educational content that helps our customers, security experts and people looking into the industry for the first time alike.
In an industry that can feel like a ton of jargon and buzzwords, we try to make user friendly content that is useful and designed with the end user in mind.
If you are looking for additional information on access control or want to discuss installing access control at your company, feel free to get in touch with our UK based team today.