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Fob Card Access Systems

Card & Fob Access Control Systems

Card access control systems allow you to electronically manage, restrict and delete individual’s access to your building. Anyone who needs regular access to your building is assigned a fob or card which has a unique identifying number embedded. In the card access software, the fob’s unique number is correlated to a specific individual.

When an employee or resident brings their fob into proximity of a building card reader the unique fob number is captured by that reader. The reader transmits the unique number over cables through the building and the number is analyzed by the card access control panels. If the user has the proper access level for entry at that door, the panels will send a release signal. Access to doors can vary by time or day, be set to automatically expire or instantly be withdrawn.

Why Your Building Needs A Card Access Control System

Installing card access systems provides a higher level of convenience and a higher level of security compared to traditional key based systems.

For employees and residents card access systems add a level of convenience as fobs can be simply presented at a reader and the door unlocks. There is no need to fish through multiple keys and to try to fit the correct key into a lock.

Furthermore, access levels can be instantaneously and remotely updated. For example, an employee traveling to a regional office can simply email the card access system administrator letting them know where they are traveling to so that their access levels can be updated to include the regional office prior to their arrival.

Additionally, fob systems allow you to instantly delete access, useful when employees or tenants leave without returning their fob credentials. Similarly, when a fob is lost it can be deleted rendering it useless, keeping the building secure at a minimal cost. With key based systems, staying secure after a losing a key is costly as all the locks require replacement and the distribution of new keys. Card access control systems avoid these costly expenses as a lost fob can instantaneously be deleted and replaced for under $10.

The Process To Install A Card Access System At Your Facility

  1. Book a free consultation with Square either by calling us or requesting an appointment online.
  2. We will come out to your facility, review you your requirements and discuss a variety of options. Following the meeting, we will prepare a custom proposal to address your security concerns.
  3. Upon acceptance of our proposal, we will schedule your installation. Typically, we are able to start your project within 2 to 4 weeks, however, this may vary through out the year.
  4. Our expert installation team will come in to complete your project. We want to cause the least amount of disturbance to your facility and will even work outside of business hours if required. Our team of experienced technicians, supervisors and project managers ensures your project is installed in a smooth manner.
  5. Upon completion of the installation will provide you with training on how to operate the new card access system which includes:
    • Adding new fob users
    • Deleting fob users
    • Reviewing historical access events
  6. To ensure your card access system is properly maintained we offer preventative maintenance packages and on demand service.

Looking for a custom card access solution?

Book a free consultation to get started with Square Security today!

Doors To Secure In An Office

Depending on the nature of your business and size of your office the doors you need to protect will vary.

At Square we usually recommend securing:

  1. Main entry doors – either on a schedule to unlock during business hours or locked 24/7  with an intercom for visitor access. 
  2. Employee entrance doors

In addition, to the main entry points we recommend protecting:

  1. IT server rooms
  2. Storage and file rooms
  3. Individual floors or departments
  4. Card readers in elevators to restrict floor access
  5. Executive or partner offices
  6. Doors between visitor and employee areas

Each business has unique needs, get in touch with Square and we are happy to review your requirements and design a solution that is ideal for your facility.


Doors To Secure In A Condo

Designing a card access system for a condo requires a unique balance between convenience and security. The ability to travel through a building should be as easy as possible however as the building is a home to many the card access system should add a layer of safety and security.

For a typical condo, Squares recommends installing card access on the following doors:

  1. Main entrance (vestibule to building lobby, should also have an entry phone for visitor access)
  2. Exterior to parking garage (On the overhead gate, it will also require a visitor entry phone if there is visitor parking underground)
  3. Visitor parking to resident parking overhead gate (if there is both visitor and resident parking they should be separated by an overhead gate)
  4. Parking garage to parking level elevator lobby (an additional entry phone would be required on floors with visitor parking)
  5. Card reader in the elevator (requiring a valid fob to reach residential floors)
  6. Amenity spaces  including fitness centers, pools, patios and theaters (can be set to schedules, so that residents can only access these areas during times set out by the condo corporation)
  7. Lockers (optional but a convenient way to reduce the number of keys distributed to residents)
  8. Individual Suites (optional but adds convenience and avoids issuing keys to residents altogether)

Every building is unique, as such, we are happy to provide a unique design to protect your condo. Contact Square to book your free consultation to get started.

Looking for a custom card access solution?

Book a free consultation to get started with Square Security today!

Components Of A Card Access System

Fob card access systems are comprised of many components which can be broken up into three categories:

  1. Field Devices (Card Readers, Electronic Locking Devices, Door Position Switches and Request To Exit Motion Sensors)
  2. Cabling & Conduit 
  3. Control Panels & Servers

Field Devices

Card Readers

Card readers are available in many different technologies and form factors. The card reader technology chosen must be compatible with the cards or fobs that will be distributed.

For the form factor of a card reader, the choice is based on aesthetics and function. Generally, card readers have a read range, how close a fob need to be brought to the reader, equivalent to the width of the reader. Typically, a large reader would be located near a gate where vehicle drivers need to reach out with a badge and a maximum read range is desired.

Common form factors for building doors include “mullion style” and “single gang” size. Mullion readers have a sleek appearance and can be mounted on walls or the door frame. Where an electrical box has been roughed in for the reader, such as a new office fit out, a “single gang” reader is recommended as it will cover the electrical box completely.

Electronic Locking Devices

On a traditional door, the mechanical action of turning a key unlocks the door. In card access systems, an electronic current sent from the main control panel is responsible for releasing the door. Typically this is achieved by installing an electric strike on the door, however other methods including magnetic locks are also a possibility.

When an electric strike receives an electrical signal, it will release allowing the door to be unlocked. The type of electric strike required will vary based on the door type and hardware but in general, they will hold a minimum of 1500 lbs of force on the door. Furthermore, when electronic strikes are paired with the correct door hardware a valid fob is required for entry but exiting through the door is always possible with the use of mechanical hardware.

Maglocks are an alternative to electric strikes for securing doors, they are essentially an electronic magnetic and when a current is applied they generate a minimum holding force of 1500 lbs. The significant difference between magnetic locks and electric strikes is the fact that magnetic locks keep the door secure from both sides were as an electric strike keeps the door locked from the exterior and allows free exit from the interior. The ability for occupants to exit a building freely is a significant concern with regards to meeting building and fire codes in Ontario. Although it varies, for maglocks in Ontario most cities require permits, connection to the building’s fire system and a fire pull station located nearby.

In most cases, electric strikes will suffice for commercial applications however maglocks may be required when:

  1. Building security levels require individuals to present their fob to enter and to present their fob to exit the door or
  2. An architect specifies a glass door without space to install an electric strike

In either case, Square is happy to assist with your maglock requirements. Furthermore, if you believe your project will require maglocks we suggest getting in touch with Square during the design phase as requirements can be discussed early on avoiding costly changes once the project is started.

Door Position Switches

Door position switches are designed to notify the control panel whenever the door is opened. Coupled with a request to exit motion the software can determine if a door is forced open from the secure side or someone is exiting through the door.

Furthermore, doors that are propped open either for convenience or maliciously are detected by the door position switch. For buildings with 24/7 security personnel, the system can create alerts notifying the door has been propped open and even automatically bring up a video feed from a nearby camera. For sites without on-site security staff, an email alert can be generated and sent to a management group notifying them of the specific door which is open.

Door position switches are basic magnetic devices that can detect when they are separated. They come in a variety of sizes and mounting methods. For commercial applications, we typically recommend a 1” concealed contact as it provides an aesthetically pleasing and functional solution.

Request To Exit Motion Sensor

A request to exit motion devices is installed above the secure side of a door and is designed to detect the motion of a person about to walk through the door. The purpose of installing a request to exit motion is to allow the software to differentiate from someone exiting the door versus the door being forced open from the secure side. Additionally, when maglocks are installed, a request to exit devices are one of the devices used to unlock the door.

Cabling & Conduit

All commercial card access systems have their field devices connected to cables that run through the building back to the control panels. Cables running to each device vary however are all low voltage typically between 18 to 24 gauge.

If cables are running through areas where they can be physically damaged by vehicles or weather such as in a parking garage or outdoors we always recommend enclosing the cables in protective conduit.

Furthermore, cables run in ceilings with plenum air returns require special ratings to ensure they are compliant with Ontario building codes. Nevertheless, when working with Square we ensure the correct cable and conduit is used for your project.

Control Panels & Servers

Control panels and servers are the central intelligence of your card access system. They receive the unique card numbers from a reader, complete an analysis, and if valid send a pulse to the electric strike to open the door all within milliseconds. Control panels and servers should be installed in secure climate control rooms. IT server rooms are a great location for card access controllers and servers. At the location of the control panels, we will connect to building’s power through a standard 120vac outlet. Power outages are not a concern for the card access systems as Square includes back up batteries to ensure the system runs uninterrupted during a power outage.

Card & Fobs

Types (Form Factor)

Credentials for your card access system are available in a variety of form factors. The two most common are fobs or cards. In both fobs and cards, an electronic antenna and information is embedded within the plastic. When the fob is brought into proximity of a building card reader the embedded card number is passed to the reader.

Fobs are about an 1/8” thick and 1” in diameter and fit onto a keychain. Cards are slightly thicker than a standard credit card, allowing you to store them in a wallet and have the added benefit of being able to print on them.

Cards are slightly thicker than a standard credit card, allowing them to be stored in a wallet. Access cards have the added option of being printable allowing them to be used for dual purposes such as a corporate identification card and credential.

In Ontario, most condo corporations issue fobs to residents.

For large corporations in Ontario, most issue cards to employees.

Regardless of the form factor chosen for your project, the card access system will operate the same way.

Formats (125kHz vs. 13.56mHz)

A variety of card/fob formats exist and some card access system manufacturers even have their own proprietary formats. It is important to ensure there is compatibility between the card/fob format and the readers installed on your building.

A simplification of card/fob formats would be to classify credentials into two categories 125khz and 13.56mhz.

In the first category 125khz cards, typically in use by condos across Ontario, have a low level of security allowing them to be copied with $50 devices in seconds.

Fobs or cards that are 13.56 MHz typically used by large corporations are embedded with varying ranges of security requiring complex algorithms and expensive equipment to duplicate the credential.

If you are unsure if your facility is using secure fobs please contact Square and we would be happy to review your current situation and make any necessary recommendations.

Looking for a custom card access solution?

Book a free consultation to get started with Square Security today!

Get In Touch With Us:

Call or Email Square to Get Started Today

Telephone: 416-460-7218 (Toronto)

Telephone: 519-318-3126 (London)


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