powering access control
An access control system requires power to operate; but, what exactly does that mean? In this blog, we explore power requirements involved in operating an access control system.

Along the way, be sure to reach out to us if you have questions. We’re always willing to talk about access control systems!

The Types of Power Available and Required

Direct Current (DC) power is preferred as and required to control most of the system. For example, to run the computer where access data is stored requires DC power. Other hardware that supports the system, such as modems, also requires DC power.

Battery Backup is also a wise investment. If you’re trapped behind a door that requires electricity to operate its locking mechanism and there is no electricity then you are stuck. However, it’s not just the power to operate locks that you need. What is needed is enough power to run the system, including the computers that verify access control data and user information.

Alternating Current (AC) can be used in some situations such as the locking mechanisms on outbuildings where DC power isn’t available. AC current isn’t a preferred power source because it’s not sustainable without maintenance. Even in the case of solar powered units, the supply of power is limited. However, that doesn’t mean that an access control system or part of one that utilizes AC current is unsafe. More so, this means that the power to control the system isn’t always consistent or sustainable. However, in some situations, that’s the best option.

Consider for a moment the power needed to push data from a remote location to a server, or from the top of a skyscraper to the ground floor. That kind of power is not going to be supplied for long by AC. That is why, especially on big systems, a DC current is required.

Code Compliance

Because we’re discussing power, each unit within an access control system must meet the regulations for its industry. For the most part, this means Underwriters Laboratories which is listed on the part as (UL) or as NEC which stands for the National Electric Code. These ratings help to ensure that electrical equipment is safe. Codes vary from one state to the next and from municipality to municipality.

Voltage vs. Current

Most products are rated and labeled to use voltage or current and the label data gives you the information needed to properly install the unit. For access control system pieces, almost all brands offer you the choice of current or voltage. That is an important statement – if you’re installing the system yourself, you need to be aware of what you’re ordering and whether it meets your local building code.

Wireless Access Control Systems

Many businesses consider wireless access control as their first choice. Mostly because they feel that the technology is cheaper to purchase and easier to install. Those are both true statements, but a wireless system still needs enough power to make it sustainable. Again, the first choice is DC power. Though in some situations, AC may work. For example, an outbuilding or gate where DC power is not available may be a situation where AC power is the better option.

Understanding the Meaning of Wireless Access Control

When considering wireless technology for access control systems be sure to understand what wireless actually means. On many systems, wireless means that the system is activated through a mobile device using wireless technology. Wireless may also mean that the lock is activated wirelessly rather than through the reader. Wireless might also mean that the unit is powered by AC power or via batteries — it is not directly wired to a power source.

Not everything that relates to access control systems is easily explained in a single blog. For example, calculating the needs of a common field application is tricky and only needed if you are attempting to install a system yourself.

Remember that Great Valley Lockshop is available to answer your questions or provide advice. We happily provide answers to questions so that you can make an informed decision about your security needs. For the fastest service, call Great Valley Lockshop at 610-644-5334 or request a free estimate today.

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