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How To Install Access Control? (6 Step Guide)

James McKellar February 9, 2021 8 min read

Before you start installing an Access Control system it is best to understand the basics. First, you will need to make a few decisions that will help you pick the right solution for you and your business.

Below we will be looking at the different areas of Access Control and installing your system into your business.

There are a lot of parts to Access Control but this will be a generalised crash-course on the topic to help you understand the basics and installation.

  • Introduction to Access Control 
  • Access Control Types
  • Supplies for Access Control 
  • Installing Access Control in 6 Steps

Short on time? Download our Nortech Access Control Comparison

What You Need to Know About Access Control

Let us take a look at a few different parts of Access Control. This section will aim to give you a base understanding of the systems, why you should look into installing Access Control, and some of the most common types.

Why do I Need an Access Control System?

There are very few businesses that would not benefit from installing an Access Control system. Although each system has its own advantages and usages, there are some overarching themes and reasons to install Access Control systems.

Protect Your Business - having an Access Control system is a proven security method that can protect various areas of your business, be easily managed, and provides long-term peace of mind.

Modernise Your Security - lock and key systems are incredibly outdated and present a whole range of issues from duplication, to loss or breakage. This is why we are seeing a vast rise in keyless systems and Access Control.

Save Time & Resources - not having to worry about losing keys, paying a 24-7 security guard team, and having the option to digitally control your system means you can save resources in a multitude of ways.

Minimise Internal Threats - if your employees see a secure system and one that is heavily controlled, they are significantly less likely to try and commit internal theft or tip-off criminals.

Improve Your Company - the benefits of using an Access Control system go way past just security. Making staff’s lives easier, having a more controlled workplace, and increased efficiency are just some examples.

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Types of Access Control 

Access Control has a variety of systems that can work in any size business or location, with this in mind, we are going to look at some of the most common solutions that are used in the industry today.

This is not an exhaustive list but will hopefully give you broad sweeps of the different systems. For more detailed information on these systems click the links below.

Key Fob Access Control  - one of the systems a lot of people are familiar with. This is the use of a key fob to tap against a reader granting access into a building, locker, or door. 

We see these used a lot in gyms, car parks, hotels, and security gates. Key fobs offer an affordable and simple-to-use system for a wide range of businesses.

Biometric Access Control - although this sounds very futuristic these are much more common than we realise. This is the use of our unique characteristics to unlock various things. 

A good example is smartphones. The majority of smartphones now have facial recognition or fingerprint unlocking.

Proximity Access Control - as the name suggests, being within ‘X’ distance of the reader with your credential (eg. ID badge) would trigger the door to unlock. 

We see these used in a variety of settings, from cars having a proximity box on the windscreen for car parks and work access, to hospital staff having an ID card that opens doors.

Wiegand Access Control - a common term in the security industry is named after its inventor John Wiegand. In short, this system creates a unique code that can only be read via certain devices.

Wiegand devices form the base of a lot of different systems and experienced exponential growth in the 80s to become a part of the fabric of Access Control.

Access Your Needs 

As we alluded to above, every company will have its own requirements and reasons for utilising an Access Control system. So, it is important to understand and assess your needs, which will help you narrow down your search.

With all the different options on the market, it can sometimes feel like a difficult task to decide on what your business is going to need. Thinking about the questions below will help you come to a decision.

  • What do you need the system for?
  • Do you need to limit access to certain areas?
  • Will you need to permit guest or outsider access?
  • Is this system for a Gate? Doors? Locks?
  • How many people will use the system?
  • What are the short, mid, and long term benefits?

Having some answers to these questions will give you a better idea of the kind of system you will need.


Supplies You’ll Need for Access Control 

In this section, we are going to look at the basics of what you will need to get your business set-up with an Access Control system. Although each installation is unique to each company and has a lot of factors that can affect it, the core principles are the same across the majority of systems.

To simplify this part we will break down Access Control into two types; Knowledge-Based and Token-Based. These two have varied components so it will make it easier to understand how each works.

Knowledge-Based Systems

This is the systems we are pretty familiar with, as you can probably guess, these Access Control systems are reliant on users knowing the information.

Three of the most prevalent uses of Knowledge-Based Access Control are the following:

  • Pin Code
  • Password
  • Door Codes

The components are basically the user, the information/code, and the sensor on the door/lock. The user will remember and enter their information which will grant access to the lock upon correct input. 

For example, a stockroom door code could be “1234” so this is the code (knowledge) given to each user who needs access to this room. 

These systems are often pretty basic, but have their usage and are normally used for low-risk areas.

Token-Based Systems 

A Token-Based Access Control system can be basically described as presenting an item that grants access to a door or lock. This item or token can be anything from a key fob to a fingerprint, to an ID badge. 

Typically each token is unique so gives a much better idea who is accessing a system, as opposed to Knowledge-Based access where a password could be shared and used by someone else.

Tokens can trigger the system in two major ways, by proximity or insertion/tapping. 

For a Token-Based System, you will need a sensor, the locks to be installed, a reader, a system to manage, and something to act as the tokens, for instance, ID badges. An ID badge would then be programmed to grant access either by proximity or contact with the reader


How to Install Access Control in 6 Steps 

Step 1: Decide on Your Access Control Type

As we discussed before there are a few different types of Access Control, each with their own benefits. Knowing which Access Control system will work best for your business is half the battle.

This can be decided by the size of your business, your budget, the number of users you will need to grant access to and your current security. 

Step 2: Do Your Research

Once you have picked a type of Access Control you will need to do some research on the systems within that area. For example, even if you want to look at Key Fob Access Control for your business there are various options within that area.

Understanding the area of Access Control you are planning to implement should never be overlooked and will be invaluable in getting your system in place.

Step 3 - Find Local Experts or Installers

Having a local Access Control installer will grant you a wide array of benefits from being able to get an expert opinion on your unique set-up to having someone to call in case of issues.

Typically you can get the whole process done from start-to-finish with an installer, they will know what will work best for your business and the different components and pieces you can use.

Step 4 - Install Your System

Once you have found a professional to set-up your system you can get to installing it. At this point it is likely they have already discussed your needs, visited your location, and got the parts ready to install.

Depending on the complexity of your system and volume of doors needed to be secured, this can often be a fairly quick process and should not disrupt your business for too long, or in some cases at all. 

Step 5 - Set-Up Your Users

Once you are all installed you can go about setting up your users. Each system will have different ways to do this but the installer should walk you through how to do this.

The majority of systems are simple to add, edit, and remove users meaning you will not need experience dealing with these systems before to become well versed.

Step 6 - Monitor the System  

Now you have set up your system, got your staff their tokens/access you can monitor and manage your Access Control. This is dependent on the intricacy of your deployed system but most will give a lot of options to oversee your security with ease.

With the right system, you can manage levels of access. A real-world example of how systems are managed would be in hotels where guests will be granted authorization to access their room but nowhere else.

Simple systems will grant or deny access, but more complex ones will be able to tell you who accessed a door, when, and where they are. 

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Why Should You Trust Us?

It seems that people and vehicle access control is an incredibly complex world using hard to understand technology, yet it impacts so many of the environments we interact with on a daily basis.

We are here to fill in the disconnect. We'll break down access control, the benefits, and drawbacks as well, including expert insight based on over 30 years experience in the industry operating as an independent British company. Our goal is to give you ALL the information so you know what's right for you.

Please consider subscribing or adding to the conversation in the comments below. We appreciate you taking the time to visit our resource centre.

James McKellar

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