Traditional locks and keys have controlled access into buildings for centuries. But today, there are better solutions. Access control systems are the best way to manage access into your commercial building, office, or business. But how do you know which type of commercial access control system to install?
Read on to learn more about commercial access control, the types of systems available, and what the best commercial access control system is.
This guide covers:
- What is a commercial access control system?
- Types of commercial access control systems
- Why you need commercial access control
- Where to install a commercial building access control system
- The best commercial access control system
What is a commercial access control system?
A commercial access control system is a system that enables property staff to control who can access a building and certain areas within.
Commercial door access control systems allow you to keep doors locked for security while providing a way for authorized tenants to gain access easily. They put building owners and operators in control of deciding who can access the space and when.
Used in offices, businesses, and other commercial properties, access control systems improve building security and convenience. Tenants and staff who work in the building can easily enter with a credential — but doors remain locked for anyone without a valid credential. Some access control systems also provide a way for visitors to request property access from tenants.
Components of a commercial access control system
There are many types of access control systems designed for commercial buildings and offices, but most share four key components.
These four components are:
- Control panel: The access control panel stores all the information about tenants and their credentials, which have been programmed by property staff.
- Access card reader: The reader is the part that scans or reads a tenant’s credentials. After reading a credential, it then sends the encrypted information to the control panel.
- Access credentials: An access credential is the object that tenants scan at the reader to gain property access. Depending on the system, a credential could be a mobile app, a key fob, or even a tenant’s fingerprint.
- Door release: Once a credential has been approved, the access control system instructs the door release to unlock the electric or magnetic lock.
Cost of an access control system for office and business
Commercial access control systems cost anywhere from $600 to $7,000 for door entry hardware. You may also have to purchase credentials — such as fobs or keycards — for each user. So, your access control system price may vary depending on the type of system you choose.
Additionally, you’ll have to factor in installation costs and ongoing service and maintenance fees. Access control installation could cost a few hundred or several thousand dollars. Installers set their own prices, so choose a trustworthy, certified installer who provides a clear and reasonable quote.
Types of commercial access control systems
There are many types of access control systems designed for offices and businesses.
Here are the five most common commercial building access control systems:
- Key fob and key card systems
- Mobile access control systems
- Cloud-based commercial access control systems
- Commercial video intercom systems
1. Key fob and key card systems
Key fob and key card entry systems are some of the most common types of commercial access control. They’re a more convenient alternative to the traditional lock-and-key system.
Instead of using keys, tenants use small electronic devices — either a fob or a card — to gain access. Tenants simply hold their device up to the access control reader, which scans it and checks their credentials. If the system recognizes that fob as an authorized credential, it grants building access.
Most key fob systems use RFID technology. That means each fob or card contains a small RFID tag, which communicates wirelessly with the reader.
Although fob access systems are more convenient than locks and keys, they’re still cumbersome and expensive. For example, any time a tenant loses or breaks their fob, property staff must replace it. Plus, anytime an employee joins or leaves the business, property staff must distribute or collect a fob and program or deactivate it accordingly.
Keypad access control consists of a device installed at the door with a numeric keypad. Each tenant and staff member receives a PIN code, which they enter at the keypad to gain access.
Keypads are convenient for office and business tenants because they eliminate physical keys and fobs altogether. Tenants don’t have to carry around a device that they could lose or forget. Instead, they just enter their PIN code to access the building or room. Additionally, staff can easily grant or revoke tenants’ access permissions through cloud-based software.
Some keypads also pair with a mobile app, allowing tenants to open doors through their smartphones. Keypads with mobile apps are especially convenient because they offer more than one way to open the door.
See ways to open doors or gates with ButterflyMX:
3. Mobile access control systems
A mobile access control system is a great investment for an office or business because it allows tenants to open doors right from their mobile devices. Smartphones, tablets, and even devices like Apple Watches instantly become access credentials.
Perhaps the greatest benefit for property staff is that you no longer have to program fobs or hand out physical credentials. Since tenants use their own devices, all you have to do is manage access permissions from a cloud-based dashboard. Another benefit to mobile access that became apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic is the fact that mobile access removes the need for a tenant to physically touch a credential to a reader. Touchless systems like these are much more hygienic and remove one way for germs to spread.
4. Cloud-based commercial access control systems
A cloud-based access control system is any type of system that enables you to remotely manage and grant property access from an internet-connected device.
Traditional access control systems require you to install and maintain a server onsite. In contrast, cloud-based systems store data in the cloud. As a result, cloud-based access control systems are far simpler and more affordable to maintain.
5. Commercial video intercoms
A commercial video intercom system is the best way to manage access at your building’s front door or gate. In addition to providing a seamless way for tenants to enter your building, a commercial video intercom also enables visitors to easily request property access.
There are many kinds of commercial video intercoms, but we recommend wireless systems with a mobile app. Wireless commercial intercoms are easier and more affordable to install. And a commercial intercom with a mobile app empowers tenants to open doors for themselves and visitors from their smartphones.
Other benefits of a commercial video intercom for office access control include:
- Seamless access for delivery carriers, so tenants never miss a delivery.
- Visitors can request access directly from the tenant they’re visiting — no need to go through a front desk or staff member.
- Tenants can open the door for visitors remotely — even if they’re not in the office.
Watch how ButterflyMX works:
Where to install commercial access control systems
Now that you know what commercial access control is and you’re familiar with the different types of systems, let’s explore where and how these systems are used.
- Offices: Whether you need an access control system for a small business or a large office complex, there are several solutions to help you manage access for your tenants and their employees.
- Industrial facilities: Access control systems are perfect for industrial buildings, self-storage units, and other non-office commercial buildings.
- Non-profit organizations: Just like an office building, a non-profit building needs a way to maintain security while ensuring seamless access for employees, volunteers, and visitors. Commercial access control systems are a great solution.
- Gated commercial properties: Commercial gate access control systems allow you to manage access for vehicles and pedestrians at your gated property.
Why your building needs a commercial access control system
Investing in a commercial access control system means that you can ditch outdated locks and keys in favor of a simple, cost-effective keyless entry system. Commercial access control offers countless benefits for tenants, property managers, and building owners alike.
Here are the top five reasons why you need a commercial access control system:
- Enhanced building security. A commercial access control system is a sophisticated security solution that lets you keep doors locked without preventing tenants from accessing them. Some systems also have a built-in camera, which can take a photo every time someone enters the building to create an audit trail.
- Simplified access for tenants. Access control enhances the tenant experience at commercial buildings by providing a seamless way for tenants to enter the building and rooms within.
- Ditch the hassle and expense of traditional keys. The reality is that tenants lose keys all the time. And when someone loses a key, building staff must spend time and money to replace the lock and issue new keys to every tenant.
- Better control over who has access to specific rooms at certain times. With a commercial access control system, property managers can decide who has access to certain rooms. They can even limit access to specific times of the day.
- Integrate with other systems. Many commercial access control systems integrate with other smart tech solutions and software, such as Google Workspace.
The best commercial access control system
There are plenty of options to choose from, but the best access control system is ButterflyMX.
ButterflyMX’s commercial video intercom system is wireless and smartphone-based, which means you don’t need in-unit hardware. That will save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in hardware and installation costs.
You’ll also save money by ditching key fobs and cards. ButterflyMX empowers tenants to use their smartphones, which spares you the expense and hassle of purchasing and programming fobs.
What’s more, you can also install ButterflyMX keypads within your building to manage access to areas like amenities, closets, and executive offices.
Finally, ButterflyMX stands out from other access control systems by providing a visitor management solution. Most commercial access control systems only provide a way for tenants to access the building. But ButterflyMX makes it easy for visitors to request access — and for tenants to grant access remotely.