lpr system camera at gate


Key takeaways

  • An LPR system is a license plate reader that registers and collects data on vehicles for parking and gated entries.
  • LPR systems are commonly used in student housing, multifamily and gated properties, and commercial parking lots or garages.
  • Three benefits of an LPR system are added security, easy hands-free entry, and parking maintenance.
  • Two great alternatives to LPR systems are video intercoms and vehicle readers with windshield tags.


In the U.S., there are over 800 million parking spaces which take up about 5% of surface areas. As a nation, we know the importance of designated parking spots and gated systems — which means it’s time we also learn the importance of using an LPR system for vehicle access control.

We’re all familiar with vehicle access solutions like keypads, keycard readers, and even manual security personnel. However, if you’re looking for a more efficient way to manage vehicle access to your parking garage, parking lot, or gated property, perhaps it’s time to consider a vehicle plate reader.

In this post, discover:


What is LPR technology?

License plate recognition technology (LPR) reads license plate numbers and uses the data to identify vehicles.

LPR technology was first developed to combat crime and conduct traffic surveillance. But with time, this powerful technology evolved to serve civilians in their quest for more efficient vehicle and parking access control solutions.

When you install license plate readers at entry points, they read each vehicle’s plate to determine whether that car is authorized to enter.


Watch how to control vehicle access at your gate with ButterflyMX:


LPR systems for vehicle access control

In 2020, worldwide vehicle ownership was just under 3 billion. With so many people driving, there’s an excess number of vehicles — which creates an even bigger need for vehicular access control.

LPR systems allow vehicles to enter properties seamlessly with controlled access by scanning their license plates as they pull up. If the system detects an authorized license plate, it will grant entry to that vehicle. If it doesn’t recognize a license plate, it’ll deny access.

An LPR system consists of:

  • A camera, which you install near the gate or door with controlled access. The LPR camera scans each vehicle’s license plate to capture the numbers and letters.
  • LPR software, which checks the camera’s scan against its database. If the camera captures an authorized license plate, the software tells the system to unlock the gate or door of the vehicle.

While an LPR system may be a good solution for drivers, it could also create a lot of work for property managers, owners, and HOA boards.

For example, every tenant’s vehicle must be manually registered and added to the database. This can be a lot of responsibility, even if it proves to be a useful system.

Additionally, residents will need to make sure they keep their vehicle information up to date if the system is to work without hiccups. So, if a resident replaces their car or drives a temporary rental car, they won’t be able to gain access unless they add the new vehicle’s license plate number to the system.


LPR system features

  • Limiting unregistered access. For an LPR system to function, property managers must first register vehicles. This puts them into the system, and they’re labeled as “permitted” to access that space. Then, unregistered vehicles are flagged and not allowed access — keeping the community safe and secure.
  • IP camera technology. You can simplify the installation of these powerful cameras by looking for wireless brands that don’t require wiring.
  • Integrations with other security systems. The best LPR systems integrate with other security systems, allowing you to manage security throughout your entire property more easily. By integrating interior CCTV systems with LPR, you can ensure the safety of tenants, whether they’re indoors or out.
  • Audit trail. When vehicles enter a property, the LPR database tracks when they enter and leave. This security measure makes it possible for security personnel to file back through the system and retrieve information. Should issues arise, it’s easy to find the owner of the vehicle and monitor the situation better.


LPR system cost

An LPR system costs at least $1,000 but may cost up to $10,000 or more. Reliable LPR cameras that take detailed images can cost anywhere from $1,000 – $3,000+, and that’s if you only want one.

LPR software is even more expensive, especially if you want law enforcement-grade data reading. Finally, you’ll also have to budget for installation costs, which could cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Needless to say, while they are sought-after access solutions, LPR camera systems may not be practical for everyone’s budget.


LPR system controlling vehicle access


Where is LPR used?

You’ll find license plate recognition cameras almost everywhere — perched on traffic lights, attached to entry gates, and even monitoring drive-throughs. However, these are only a few of the cases in which someone might use LPR readers.


Who uses LPR?

Some of the biggest users of LPR are police departments and law enforcement agencies. However, property managers of all kinds can also benefit from the increased security LPR offers.

LPR license plate recognition is commonly used at:

  • Student housing: LPR systems are perfect for monitoring incoming traffic in student housing parking lots and garages. This minimizes the risk of unauthorized vehicles accessing the building or taking student residents’ assigned parking spots.
  • Parking garages: Private parking garages are great candidates for LPR cameras to heighten security. But they’re also very useful for garage access as they read registered license plates to allow vehicles through.
  • Parking lots: Many parking lots have gated entrances, making an LPR camera a perfect solution for security and parking access. Of course, you won’t likely find an LPR system at a public parking lot, as each vehicle needs to be registered with the system for it to work.
  • Gated communities: Most gated communities use outdated entry systems that are neither convenient nor appealing to the eye. In contrast, LPR systems help cut down on the build-up of vehicles streaming into the gate during rush hour.


lpr system


3 reasons to use an LPR system

License plate recognition is a popular vehicle access control solution for a variety of properties. Here are a few reasons why you should consider investing in your own LPR access control system.

3 benefits of LPR systems:

1. Added security
2. Easy hands-free entry
3. Parking maintenance


1. Added security

Parking and community security is a major concern on everyone’s minds. In 2021, there were roughly 16,617 robberies in parking lots and garages. These statistics are worrisome, especially when it limits people’s feelings of security in their own spaces.

By providing management with audit trails and limiting unregistered access, an LPR gate system can prevent mail theft, security breaches, and more.


2. Easy hands-free entry

Have you ever been stuck in a long line of vehicles inching their way through an entry gate? The line takes longer as each person has difficulty finding their key card or scanning their fob.

A vehicle license plate reader would solve this problem and reduce the frustration of traffic jams by enabling hands-free entry.

With a license plate reading camera, residents simply drive up to the front gate and allow their license plate to be scanned by the camera.

This is a great way to enable touchless access. The only downside is that it doesn’t allow for visitor access since their plates aren’t registered.


3. Parking maintenance

Once you fix the problem of parking access control, you then have to monitor the use of the vehicles themselves. One of the biggest problems property managers have is maintaining enough parking spaces for everyone to use.

Issues that limit parking spaces for residents:

  • Too many unregistered visitors
  • Guests who stay too long and don’t relinquish their spot
  • People using designated spaces that don’t belong to them
  • Too many vehicles for one family or unit
  • Non-working vehicles (junkers) taking up space

You can fix some of these issues by using vehicle readers and cameras to keep track of who is using the spaces. If their vehicles don’t match, or they are overstaying their welcome, then you can crack down on parking rules.

Additionally, you can also use this system to make sure that owners register their new vehicles for updated information.


Alternatives to LPR systems

As we mentioned above, LPR systems have the potential to be costly and difficult to upkeep. However, there are viable alternatives. Those effective alternatives to LPR access control are video intercoms and vehicle readers with windshield stickers


Video intercoms

When you install a video intercom system at your gated entry, residents have the benefit of touchless access by using their smartphones. This is a popular access method for gated entrances as it reduces the need for PINs, codes, and keys.

Another advantage of video intercoms over LPR systems is the ability to let visitors in using the intercom — making it a great solution for guest access and deliveries.


a video intercom as an alternative to an lpr system


Windshield sticker & reader

When you invest in a vehicle reader system, you can increase the efficiency of access control.

For best results, choose a system that scans windshield stickers that are assigned to each vehicle. That way, when drivers pull up to your gated entry, the reader will scan the sticker and determine that the vehicle is authorized to access. As an added benefit, residents can move the sticker to a different spot on their windshield or move it to another car entirely.

People like this alternative because it doesn’t require them to do anything besides enter when the gate opens. If guest access is a concern, then a vehicle reader paired with a video intercom is the best option.


if you need a vehicle access control solution, try ButterflyMX

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Rebecca Cline

Rebecca is based in Northern Virginia and has been a writer all her life. She loves learning new things and enjoys writing everything from real estate to property management!

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