S2 access control system review

With the right cloud-based access control system, property owners and managers have the power to control access within their buildings from anywhere. From a smartphone or laptop, you can adjust access permissions, add or remove tenants, and assign credentials — without ever stepping foot on site.

But with so many access control systems out there, how do you know which one to choose? S2 access control systems have been on the market for over a decade, but are they the best fit for your building? Let’s dive in.

This review covers:


About LenelS2

S2 access control systems are sold by LenelS2. Founded in 2003, LenelS2 first came onto the scene as Security S2. After launching its Netbox access control product in 2004, LenelS2 cemented itself as a trusted provider of physical security systems.

Today, LenelS2 continues to expand. The company now offers a wide variety of access control systems, from their original Netbox to more “all-inclusive” products such as Blue Diamond. In addition to access control solutions, Lenel S2 also offers video surveillance, event monitoring, digital signage, and cloud-based services.

The company primarily provides solutions for commercial real estate, education and healthcare facilities, manufacturing, and government organizations, as well as the occasional multifamily or mixed-use property.


How S2 access control systems work

One of S2’s main selling points is accessibility. Since its system administration platform is web-based, there’s no software to install or license fees required. So, building admins can manage the system from any web browser, even off-site.

S2 access control systems include:

  • Netbox: Best for small businesses. Supports up to 32 portals.
  • Netbox Extreme: Use for small to mid-range businesses. Supports up to 128 portals.
  • NetBox Enterprise: The elite choice for event monitoring and access control for large-scale security operations. Supports over 7000 portals and 500 Nodes.
  • NetBox VRx: Combines the power of Netbox with S2’s video management systems.

S2 systems handle distributed processing through proprietary Nodes. S2 Netbox Nodes are the control panels that connect to key fob and card readers and locks. With Nodes, the Netbox system becomes scalable — you can connect several Nodes to a Netbox, and connect multiple Netboxes to each other for a properly scaled, customized system.

S2 customers enjoy a variety of integrations and connections with third-party products, including card readers, controllers, video monitoring systems, video intercoms, and more.


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Review of S2 access control systems

S2 offers cloud-based software to pair with its access control and video monitoring systems. From one dashboard, building admins can monitor and administer systems using any device.

S2 offers two cloud-based software options:

  1. Cumulus: Simple solution with proactive system health monitoring, automated alerts, and remote software updates.
  2. Elements: Ideal for small- to medium-sized businesses and enterprises with satellite locations



  • Third-party integrations: You can integrate your S2 access control system with other proptech, including visitor management systems, intercoms, video security services, and more.
  • Web-based: The interface is based entirely online, allowing you to access it from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Scalable system: Offerings include a simple Netbox set up with access to 32 portals all the way up to an enterprise model, featuring 7000 portals and 500 Nodes. Scale-up as needed from small businesses to large corporations.
  • Customizable monitoring displays: Adjust settings so you’re monitoring what you want, when you want.
  • Event and alarm management: Full-scale event management including event logging, notifications, and escalation tools.
  • Automatic system management: S2 Netboxes automatically discover Nodes for your convenience. Plus, enjoy automatic system backups.
  • Mobile app: S2’s mobile app enables mobile security management, mobile credentials, and more.


S2 access control pricing

There’s no pricing listed on S2’s website, but third-party sites estimate the cost of S2 access control systems to start at around $1000 per door without installation costs. To cover the wiring and installation for each system, you’ll likely need to spend another $2000 to $3000 on labor and materials.


Pros & cons


  • Scalable to virtually any level: Companies and buildings of all sizes can find a customized solution from S2.
  • Global availability: LenelS2 has an international presence.
  • Cloud-based options: When you opt for S2’s cloud-based solution, you enjoy the benefits of off-site data hosting and convenient system management.
  • Web-based management: You won’t have to download software or licenses to use the system.



  • No video included: S2’s more basic access control systems don’t come with video monitoring or other video services. These need to be added for an additional cost, or you must opt for the Netbox VR.
  • Cloud-based services cost extra: S2 Netbox systems aren’t inherently cloud-based. Instead, they run on a localized computer system, which requires staff and training. To enjoy a cloud-based system, you must pay extra for S2’s Cumulus or Elements services.
  • No integrations with identity providers: S2 doesn’t integrate with identity providers you might already be using, such as G Suite or OKTA. As a result, you must manually remove or add users to the access system even if they’ve already been removed or added to the identity provider system.
  • Complicated offerings: S2’s access control products and solutions may be complicated and may not be user-friendly. You may need technically qualified staff to choose, manage, and administer the system for your building.


Should you get an S2 access control system?

S2 access control systems have the backing of a long-standing company and a large customer base. The company offers a variety of physical security solutions for clients of all sizes, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies.

However, S2’s access control systems aren’t designed for the cloud. On their own, the systems are an on-premise access control solution that requires an onsite server and staffing to manage them. To enjoy cloud-based management, you’ll need to spring for one of S2’s cloud-based services, Elements or Cumulus.

So, if you’re looking for a comprehensive solution for a large organization with multiple buildings and high-security needs, S2 might be a viable option. But their solutions may be difficult to parse, and they may not offer the convenient features that other access control solutions deliver.

Additionally, LenelS2 appears to focus more on commercial property access and industries such as government and healthcare, not apartments and multifamily. So, if you’re looking for an apartment access control system, S2 may not be the best fit.


Alternatives to S2 access control

S2 access control systems allow you to manage property access through a network of Nodes and interfaces, but is it the best choice for your business? An alternative such as ButterflyMX may be the better choice because it offers completely cloud-based software, remote management, and smartphone-based access. Additionally, ButterflyMX’s system enables controlled access from the front door or gate throughout the building.

Visitors, staff, and tenants alike benefit from ButterflyMX’s video access control system. With a video intercom at your building’s front door, visitors can easily request access from front desk staff or even a specific tenant. Plus, tenants and staff can see who they’re letting into the building, maximizing security.

Beyond the front door or gate, ButterflyMX makes interior access control easy with camera-equipped keypads. Keypads enable fully keyless entry into specific units, offices, and other spaces. Rather than carry keys, fobs, or key cards, tenants can use a mobile app on their smartphones to navigate the building. Tenants can also send access credentials — in the form of a virtual key — to authorized visitors.


Watch how ButterflyMX works:


S2 vs. ButterflyMX

An access control system should simplify access and make your job as a property owner or manager easier. S2 access control systems may improve security and ensure only authorized people access the right spaces. But they may not be the right fit for buildings that want a simple, user-friendly, and completely mobile access experience. ButterflyMX delivers a system that maximizes security with video and enhances access for anyone who enters your building.


Feature ButterflyMX S2
Visitor access Yes No
Apartment & multifamily usage Yes No
Remote access capabilities for tenants Yes No
Built-in camera Yes No
Mobile app Yes Yes



access control system

Disclaimer: ButterflyMX provides these blog posts to help our customers and potential customers make the right business decisions for them. Our blog posts are based on the information we have available to us at the time of writing.

Sophia Cooper


Sophia Cooper

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

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