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.
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:
- Building security levels require individuals to present their fob to enter and to present their fob to exit the door or
- 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 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.
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.
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 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.