No matter the type of property, every building needs a way to control access. As a property owner, manager, or developer, you need to make sure your building has a reliable way to get tenants, guests, and delivery carriers through the front door. You need a door entry system.
Whether you’re purchasing a door entry system to install in a new development or retrofit in an existing one, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with your options. In this complete guide to door entry systems, we explore the four main types of property access solutions you can choose from. Then, we explain which features to look for in the best entry system. After reading this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of what a door entry system is and which kind of system is best for your building.
This guide covers:
- What is a door entry system?
- How does a door entry system work?
- Types of door entry systems
- Four features of the best door entry system
What is a door entry system?
A door entry system is a building access solution you install at an entryway to manage access into and within a property. Door entry systems let you control who can enter a room or building by verifying the person’s identity and opening the door for authorized individuals. Many of these systems also provide a way for visitors to request access into a room or building.
Where to use door entry systems
You can install a door entry system in any kind of building. The right system for your building depends on its infrastructure and access needs.
Door entry systems are commonly found in:
- Apartments: Every apartment needs a door entry system. They maintain building security while ensuring visitors can easily request access from residents.
- Businesses and offices: Commercial door entry systems are ideal for office buildings and other types of businesses. A keyless entry system for business makes it easy for tenants and employees to come and go without worrying about carrying keys or fobs.
- Gated communities: Door entry systems can even be installed at gated entrances of both multifamily and commercial properties.
- Industrial buildings: Properties like self-storage facilities and warehouses also benefit from a door entry system to ensure that only authorized personnel can enter the building.
How does a door entry system work?
A door entry system works by verifying the identities of authorized tenants and providing a way for visitors to request property access. All door entry systems need hardware installed at the entrance (often outdoors). This hardware is called the base station. Some systems also require hardware installed in every unit throughout the building. Those devices are called substations.
To use a door entry system, a visitor searches for a resident in the system’s directory and presses a button to contact them. The system alerts that tenant that they have a visitor, usually through a phone call and/or mobile app notification. Then, the tenant speaks with their visitor and opens the door for them by pressing a button. When the tenant presses the ‘door release’ button, the system sends a signal to the door’s electric or magnetic lock, which allows entry.
Building tenants can also use door entry systems to grant themselves access. Tenants may use a keycard, a fob, or a mobile app on their smartphones to gain access through the building entry system.
- A door entry system is an access solution that enables you to control who can and can’t enter a building.
- Many door entry systems also provide a way for guests to request access from building staff or tenants.
- Door entry systems verify a person’s credentials — such as a PIN code or a programmed key fob — before granting access.
- An entry system with visitor management abilities allows visitors to call and speak with tenants. Tenants can then open the door for them remotely.
Watch how ButterflyMX works:
Types of door entry systems
“Door entry system” is actually a broad term for a wide range of building access solutions.
There are four main types of door entry systems:
1. Access control systems
An access control system is any solution that enables authorized users to grant themselves property entry with a verified credential.
Access control systems are a kind of keyless entry system, which means tenants can enter a room or building without a physical key. By doing away with traditional locks and keys, building owners and operators save money and add unbeatable convenience to their properties.
However, these kinds of door entry systems only enable access to tenants or authorized individuals. They don’t provide a way for guests to request access.
The two main types of access control systems for door entry:
RFID door entry systems
RFID — which stands for “radio-frequency identification” — is a technology that uses radio waves to scan data stored inside an RFID tag. Fob access control systems and key card door entry systems use RFID technology.
Fobs are small electronic devices with a built-in microchip. Users scan their fob at an RFID reader or press a button on the fob to open the door. Fob access is used across industries at all types of entryways. For businesses, commercial key fob door entry systems facilitate access for employees, who must carry their fob to and from the office. Apartment buildings also use fob systems, both outside and within the building. Residents can use fobs to enter the front door as well as areas like mailrooms, gyms, and other amenity spaces.
Key cards either use RFID, Wiegand, or Magstripe technology. RFID key cards contain a built-in microchip. Users tap their key card on the card reader at the entrance to gain access.
Keypad door entry systems
In contrast to RFID systems, keypad door entry systems don’t require users to carry a physical device, like a card or fob. Instead, users simply enter a PIN code on the keypad.
2. Buzzer systems
Apartment buzzer entry systems let visitors alert tenants that they need access to a building. They also let tenants talk to visitors and open the door for them remotely.
Buzzer systems have two components:
- The entryway hardware. This is the device installed at the front door or gate. It usually has a ‘call’ button for each unit in the building. Visitors use the hardware to select a tenant and call them.
- In-unit devices. These are the pieces of hardware installed in every unit throughout the building. Most in-unit devices have three buttons: talk, listen, and door open. Renters use these devices to talk to visitors and open the door for them.
One significant downside to buzzer systems is that tenants can only speak to visitors through the in-unit device — they can’t use their cell phones.
Another downside is that buzzer door entry systems require you to run wiring throughout the building. You need this wiring to connect the hardware at the entrance to every in-unit device throughout the building. Installing whole-building wiring is extremely expensive and challenging.
3. Door phone entry systems
A door entry phone system enables visitors to talk to building tenants via a telephone call. It also lets a tenant open the door for visitors by pressing ‘9’ on their phone.
Door phone entry systems require:
- Hardware at the entryway with a tenant directory
- A telephone line or cellular service for phone calls
- Tenants’ telephones (landlines or cell phones)
Telephone entry systems are easy to use, but they’re outdated and sometimes unreliable. Most of these systems require staff to go onsite to update the resident directory — they can’t be programmed and updated remotely. And since they don’t have a camera, tenants can’t visually confirm who’s requesting access.
Here’s how a door entry phone works:
- Visitors use the phone entry system hardware to find and select the tenant they’re visiting.
- The system places a call to that tenant, who can answer it from their telephone.
- If the tenant wants to unlock the door for their visitor, they press ‘9.’
4. Intercom systems
Intercoms are the most robust and versatile door entry systems. They enable communication between visitors and tenants while offering various methods of entry.
There are several kinds of intercom systems. An intercom can either be wired or wireless. And similar to buzzer systems, intercoms can operate with in-unit hardware — but they may use residents’ cell phones instead.
The best intercom systems:
- Have a camera to enable video calling.
- Are cloud-based for remote management.
- Come with a mobile app so you can open doors from your smartphone and manage access from anywhere.
- Offer several ways to open the door, such as virtual keys, delivery PINs, and voice commands.
- There are four main kinds of door entry systems: access control systems, buzzer systems, telephone entry systems, and intercoms.
- Access control systems commonly use RFID fobs or cards, or keypads to allow access for authorized tenants. They don’t provide a way for guests to request building access.
- Door buzzer systems are outdated and require wiring throughout the building to connect in-unit devices with entryway hardware.
- Door phone entry systems require outdated telephone wiring or expensive cellular network plans to place calls from visitors to tenants. They also don’t have cameras.
- Intercom systems enable communication between visitors and tenants, and they allow for remote access. The best intercoms have a camera for video calling and a mobile app for smartphone-based access management.
Best door entry system
If you’re looking for the best entry system for your building, there are a few features that should be on your checklist.
The best door entry systems offer these four features:
1. Video door entry systems
One of the most valuable features of an entry system is a camera. Door entry systems with a camera enable video calling, which means tenants can video chat with visitors instead of just an audio call. As a result, renters can see who’s at the door before opening it for anyone.
A video door entry system significantly improves security at your building. Residents can make sure they’re only letting known visitors into the building. And offsite property managers can visually confirm a prospect’s identity through a video call before granting them property access.
2. Wireless door entry systems
Equally as valuable as a system with a camera is a wireless door entry system. Wireless systems don’t need wiring between the entryway hardware and each in-unit device. Instead, devices within the system communicate wirelessly. You’ll save thousands of dollars on installation costs by choosing a wireless system.
Even better, some wireless door entry systems don’t require in-unit hardware. Building tenants can instead use their smartphones to talk to visitors and open doors remotely. The benefits of installing a wireless system without in-unit hardware are endless. Not only will you save money on installing and maintaining hardware, but you’ll add unbeatable convenience for residents.
To maximize functionality and cost savings, choose a wireless video door entry system without in-unit hardware. These systems check every box: residents can see who they’re letting in, and they can grant access from anywhere.
3. Cloud-based entry systems
Another feature to look for in an entry system is cloud-based software. A cloud-based door entry system means that instead of uploading all the data about your tenants and your building directly into your entry system, you store it in the cloud. As a result, you don’t have to go on-site or download software to update your entry system — you can manage everything from a web-based dashboard.
Cloud-based entry systems save an impressive amount of time for building staff. They also ensure that your resident directory is always up to date. Furthermore, you can manage access permissions and review door entry events in real-time, right from your computer or smartphone.
4. Entry systems with integrations
The job of a property manager or building owner is filled with several repetitive — and often mundane — tasks. To streamline processes and make your job easier, invest in a door entry system that integrates with your property management software (PMS) and other proptech.
By integrating your building entry system with your PMS, you won’t have to worry about updating your tenant directory across multiple platforms. Instead, any change you make to the rent roll in your property management system will automatically push to the entry system. That way, your intercom directory will always reflect your PMS — and you won’t have to waste time constantly updating several systems.
Some entry systems also integrate with other proptech solutions, such as smart locks and package rooms. By connecting these tech-powered devices, you’ll create a seamless access and living experience for your residents.
- Choose a door entry system that is wireless, cloud-based, equipped with a camera, and capable of integrating with your other proptech.
- Video door entry systems improve building security by ensuring tenants can visually confirm who’s requesting access before letting them in.
- Wireless door entry systems are easier and more affordable to install than wired ones.
- Cloud-based entry systems make it easier for staff to manage access and update the system remotely.
- Door entry systems with integrations help save time and create efficiencies for both staff and tenants.
ButterflyMX door entry system
If you want an entry system that offers all of these valuable and important features, choose ButterflyMX.
By eliminating in-unit hardware and building wiring, the ButterflyMX video intercom is a cost-effective entry solution that empowers residents to open doors from a smartphone. With the ButterflyMX mobile app, tenants can create and send virtual keys to visitors as well as one-time delivery passes for easy delivery access. And the ButterflyMX OS is powerful cloud-based software that lets building staff manage access, review entry logs, and update tenant information from anywhere.
ButterflyMX has been installed in more than 5,000 buildings and has more than 6,000 five-star reviews.