Access control systems have been around for decades, but only recently has adopting them been an affordable option for most business owners looking to make employee and customer access management easier with these systems. Our top access control systems list reflects the fact that not every system fits every site and every budget.
It’s easy to get caught up in just how many options there are, so we’re compiling our list of the top hardware and software for small business owners.
First though, lets set some definitions on what types of solutions you should be looking at, as there are certain types of access control systems that are better able for certain sites over others.
A QUICK NOTE ON TYPES OF ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEMS
Keyless entry systems generally fall into three categories based on the functionality and use case of the system. These include:
It’s important to get a good grasp on what types of systems are available and what your business setup and specific needs allow. For instance, if there isn’t proper power or network connectivity nearby a door, that can complicate an access control system installation.
CLOUD-BASED SYSTEMSWHAT IS CLOUD-BASED ACCESS CONTROL?
Cloud-based access control systems communicate to offsite servers through internet-connected devices and enable a user to control or audit access to their site remotely through online portals.
Because these systems do have cloud computing involved with their usage and are regularly updated with new features, there is typically a license fee associated with their use. This can range widely depending on how many doors and what type of license a small business purchases.
Typically though, these license fees are reasonable and affordable for the plusses an online portal bring to small business owners and admins.
NETWORK SYSTEMSWHAT IS NETWORK ACCESS CONTROL?
Network access control systems connect via a local network, but do not have a cloud-based integration, so there are no monthly fees associated with their use.
Network systems in the past have received a bad reputation for being unwieldy—often tied to their need to be constantly online and hosted through an on-site IT computer.
Much of this poor reputation is driven by antiquated access control systems installed years or even decades ago that are still in service. Modern network access control systems however are incredibly reliable and offer impressive function without the burden of a monthly license cost.
STANDALONE SYSTEMSWHAT IS A STANDALONE ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEM?
Standalone systems are a bit different from online systems in that they are typically designed and installed as separate locks that are programmed individually and do not necessarily have an online portal to control and access audit trails.
Standalone systems work extremely well for large sites where access only needs to be controlled on a few entry ways. They’re also solid picks for entryways far from their IT closet, networking room or power hookups.
Typically, systems like this will have many ways to allow access, whether they be key cards, fobs, biometrics or mobile authentication.
ACCESS CONTROL TYPES
Access Control systems which can fit many needs and connect through the cloud to offer portal access on any device. They usually have a usage fee to cover computing costs.
Traditional, access control software connects over a local network to offer on-site staff access to audit trails and the ability to control access as needed.
Keyless entry systems installed per-door that typically connect over a local network, don’t always require power and network hookups and are used to accommodate unique situations or businesses with few doors that require controlled access.
WHAT KEYLESS ENTRY SYSTEM IS BEST FOR A SMALL BUSINESS?
The great news is, it depends on the site! Start with deciding what type of system is best for your business. Next, start to research and get passionate about a keyless entry system. First though, ensure you’ve selected the right solution for your business.
CLOUD-BASED ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEMS ARE BEST FOR:
- Large, multi-door businesses
- Multi-site businesses, high-traffic businesses
- Businesses that often require limiting or allowing access quickly from anywhere
STANADLONE SYSTEMS ARE BETTER FOR:
- Single-site businesses with lower employee counts or low turnover
- Doors which are isolated from a wireless network, are low traffic or have a unique installation situation making standalone systems more beneficial
- You’re looking to control access on a smaller budget and can handle having a limited audit trail
YOU MAY WANT TO CONSIDER OTHER SOLUTIONS IF:
- Your doors are far from wired network connection sites
- You have poor wireless connection at those doors
- You only need to monitor one site and can do so from your office reliably
NETWORK SYSTEMS ARE BEST FOR:
- Businesses who want a network-connected system but don’t need to access a cloud-portal to manage their security
- Businesses who need to issue physical cards
- Sites with access to power and wireless or wired internet access points
CHOOSE A DIFFERENT TYPE OF ACCESS CONTROL FOR SITES WITH:
- Doors far away from power or communication
- A need to quickly disable access credentials from anywhere
- Sites without an IT computer to host the software
OUR PICKS FOR THE BEST ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEMS OF 2022
Openpath has so much going for it. With four different ways to gain access, in one touchless reader solution, it’s no surprise they’re often touted as the industry leader in keyless entry systems. Choose from their mobile app, wave-to-enter, encrypted key fobs or cards or a guest pass to give customers and employees an incredible experience from their first to their last touchpoint with your business.
- Openpath takes our top recommendation in cloud-based access simply because their solution is great for nearly any use-case. With an attractive card reader and a reliable portal, it’s hard to go wrong with Openpath.
- SALTO KS
- Touting themselves as ‘keys as a service’ Salto KS well-represents the highest echelon of cloud-based access with their impressive line of hardware that, quite literally, will fit any door, any site, and any problem.
- They take our second spot due to their portal-based access being natively integrated with standalone locking hardware ranging from mortise locks to readers to attractive escutcheon locks.
- An enterprise solution, Brivo sports an impressive list of integrations enabling their hardware them to communicate with just about anything a business needs them to. With their portal and myriad of access solutions ranging from standalone smart locks to keypads, mullion readers and wall-mounted readers, Brivo is a great pick for any business looking in need of cloud access control.
- They take our third spot due to their portal-based access being natively integrated with standalone locking hardware ranging from mortise locks to readers to attractive escutcheon locks.
- CDVI represents a core staple of the early access control system landscape that is still supported and updated today. Reliable as it ever was and with mobile functionality through their Krypto pass, you’ll find CDVI to be among the best network access control solutions on the market today.
- Supports scan, touch, automatic, voice and biometric access through their Atrium app with no annual or monthly fees for the service.
- With integrations for turnstiles, safety systems, entry panels and even elevator controls, Keri exists in a space in the access control system landscape that few with their clout can touch. Keri lands its spot as one of our top picks for access control due to the myriad situations it can manage.
- Recently, Keri has brought online their cloud solution and allowed users to migrate their current systems to the cloud at no cost. Any business unsure if a cloud-based system is right for them will find Keri to be a wonderful selection for their business.
STANDALONE ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEMS
- ALARM LOCK
- Think of it this way—anywhere there’s a door, an Alarm Lock will fit it. Trusted by airports, education facilities and Healthcare facilities nationwide, Alarm Lock is our pick for the top Standalone access control system.
- Alarm Lock manufacturers door alarms, exit device and a myriad other solutions to fit any need. They land our top spot due to their quick installation and the ability to upgrade solutions into connected access control systems operated on a network or in the cloud.
- Codelocks, like the other standalone access systems on this list, can be used by themselves or be integrated with software like Remotelock to provide audit trails and become part of a cloud-based system. They take our top spot for their ease of installation, reliability, affordability and the use-cases they fit.
- Codelocks are a wonderful solution to pick with gates, office doors, lockers and aluminum doors.
- SCHLAGE CO
- The Schlage CO series of locks is a system of exit device and smart locks designed to fit on exterior and interior doors. They feature keypad and keycard access and represent well how accessible access control has become for any business.
- It takes a spot on this list for just how affordable of a solution it is. It can be used as a standalone or paired with the Schlage Engage app for mobile credentialing and access setup.