commercial access control system


Key takeaways

  • The best access control system for business security is ButterflyMX.
  • A commercial access control system can manage access control at a commercial building or business.
  • The types of office door access control solutions include key fob and key card systems, keypads, mobile access control systems, cloud-based commercial access control systems, and commercial video intercom systems.
  • Your building needs commercial access control solutions to make entry easier for tenants, control access over who enters the property, and enforce existing security systems.


Traditional locks and keys have controlled access to buildings for centuries. But today, there are better solutions. Access control systems are the best way to manage access to 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 the best commercial access control system for you.

This guide covers:


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What is a commercial access control system?

A commercial access control system is a type of door entry system that enables property staff to manage who can access a building or certain areas of a property.

Enterprise access control systems allow properties to keep areas secure while providing authorized users with a method of entering. In general, these systems put building owners and operators in control of deciding who has door access and when.

Access control systems improve property security and convenience across offices, businesses, and other commercial properties. Tenants and staff who work in the building can quickly 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.

To simplify credential management, you can choose between a few different access control management models.


commercial access control systems


What are the 3 types of access control?

You can choose between three access control models as a framework to hand out credentials:

  1. Mandatory
  2. Discretionary
  3. Role-based


1. Mandatory

A mandatory access control model depends on one administrator who individually creates access credentials for everybody. It’s a good fit for smaller properties, but larger properties with many residents might get overwhelmed under this system.


2. Discretionary

Discretionary access allows multiple administrators to create and edit credentials. While multiple administrators will be able to more easily handle larger numbers of residents, you have to watch out and make sure that administrators don’t accidentally create multiple credentials or step on each other’s toes.


3. Role-based

Instead of individual credentials, role-based access empowers administrators to create different roles with different access credentials.

Then, anybody who needs access can simply be assigned a role instead of waiting for an administrator to build out a credential.


Cost of an access control system for office and business

Commercial access control systems cost anywhere from $600 to $7,000 per door for door entry hardware.

You may also have to purchase credentials — such as fobs or keycards — for each user. So, the price of your access control system 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.


How does a commercial access control system work?

An office door access control system works by the door controller, determining if access should be granted based on the credentials provided.

While there are many business access control systems, most utilize five primary components to maintain security.

The five components of a door entry system for businesses are:

  • Door controller: The door controller is the most crucial component of the entire system because it stores all information regarding credentials locally or accesses them via the cloud. Essentially, the door controller is the brain of your access control system. It makes all the decisions when determining if a user can be granted access or not.
  • Access reader: The reader is the device that accepts the user’s credentials. These are often located on a door or next to it on the wall. Many readers are known as proximity readers, meaning they only need the credential to be within a close range to accept the encrypted information.
  • Access credentials: The credential is what a user gives to a reader for access. Credentials are often physical in the form of a key fob, ID badge, key card, or even a tenant’s fingerprint. However, credentials are not always physical. Many modern business access control systems accept a PIN code or mobile app.
  • Commercial electronic door lock: For a commercial access control system to operate successfully, doors must have electronic locks. Common types of commercial electronic door locks include electromagnetic door locks, keyless door locks, and commercial keypad door locks.
  • Software: Lastly, the software is a major component of any business access control system because it allows property staff to manage user permissions. With the same software, staff can review audit logs in the event of a security breach. The best access control software is cloud-based, meaning it doesn’t require bulky, on-site equipment. Instead, the software can be accessed remotely on a desktop or even a mobile device.


What is the difference between commercial access control systems and commercial smart locks?

The biggest difference between these two technologies is that office door access control systems provide a comprehensive solution for properties, while commercial smart locks are designed for a single door.

More importantly, commercial access control systems may integrate with smart locks to control access to areas. In this instance, the smart lock is connected to the access control system, telling it when to unlock.

However, simply purchasing and installing smart locks within your building will not provide a property-wide access control solution. Instead, access control systems use centralized software to manage credentials and more hardware to operate effectively.


What’s the difference between commercial access control systems and security systems?

The difference between these two systems is that commercial access control systems are part of a security system that will address most security concerns.

Security systems consist of various technologies to safely secure a property from internal and external threats. As for access control systems, they play a role in preventing those threats from entering vulnerable areas of the property.

Other aspects of a security access system may include:

  • Fencing
  • Signage
  • Lighting
  • Security cameras
  • Motion sensors
  • Smoke detectors
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Alarm systems

As you can see, many technologies make up a security system, with business access control systems working alongside them.


5 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:

  1. Key fob and key card systems
  2. Keypads
  3. Mobile access control systems
  4. Cloud-based commercial access control systems
  5. 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 key card entry systems for businesses 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.


2. Keypads

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 access control 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 is that it removes the need for a tenant to physically touch a credential to a reader. Touchless systems like these are much more hygienic and help prevent the spread of germs, which is essential for facilities like hospitals and daycares.


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 an on-site server. 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.


commercial video intercom


5. Commercial video intercoms systems

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:


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 cost-effective, simple keyless entry system. Commercial access control offers countless benefits for tenants, property managers, and building owners alike.

Here’s how access control for business can help you:

  • Enhanced building security. A commercial access control system is a sophisticated physical 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. Mobile credentials are a great replacement.
  • Better control over who has access to specific rooms at certain times. With a commercial access control system, property managers can automate who has access to certain rooms. They can even limit access to specific times of the day.
  • Integrate with other systems. Many business access control systems integrate with other smart tech solutions and software, such as Google Workspace. As a result, you can cut back on necessary work by centralizing all of your operations from a single platform.


The best commercial access control system

There are plenty of options to choose from, but the best commercial access control system is ButterflyMX.

ButterflyMX’s commercial access control system provides all the features you need to manage property-wide access effectively. Not only can the access control system help manage employees or tenants, but it’s also an excellent visitor management solution.

The ButterflyMX commercial access control system for commercial buildings consists of the following:

  • Video intercom: The ButterflyMX 8” or 12” video intercom is a modern system designed for controlling access to exterior entryways, including vestibule doors and even gates. The tenant directory on the bright LED screen provides a way for guests to contact tenants and request access. In addition, the intercom supports two-way video calling thanks to the 156° wide-angle camera, allowing tenants to easily see who they’re speaking with. Further, the intercom is both vandal-resistant and weatherproof, meaning it will last you longer than other systems. 
  • Multiple ways to open the door: Our video intercom supports multiple credentials: the ButterflyMX mobile app, PIN codes, key cards or fobs, and virtual keys for delivery drivers and guests.
  • Vehicle readers: For gated properties, parking lots, and garages, the ButterflyMX vehicle reader is an excellent solution for preventing long car lines at entryways. The vehicle reader automatically grants access to vehicles with an authorized windshield tag. That way, drivers don’t have to fumble for a physical credential.
  • ButterflyMX OS: Finally, the ButterflyMX OS ties together our entire commercial access control solution together. From a web-based dashboard, staff members can manage permissions for the door entry system, review audit trails, adjust settings, and more. What’s more, the ButterflyMX OS is accessible remotely, so staff can manage the system whenever and wherever.


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Sophia Cooper

Born and raised in Colorado, I love the outdoors, good food, and anything related to real estate or technology.