Battery locks have become a fixture in the world of access control. And that’s a good thing; they provide an extra option and are a good supplement to wired access control. There are two types of battery locks – online and offline- but how do you know which is appropriate for each location? In this article, I discuss the differences and focal points for online and offline battery locks.
To be wired or not to be wired
There are three types of access control on the market:
- Wired online
- Wireless online
- Wireless offline
I’ll start with the classic, most common method of access control: wired online. A direct (online) connection is created using wiring between the card reader at the door and the access control system. The lock and the card reader are also powered by the wiring.
With wireless online access control, a battery lock with a built-in card reader is installed. This lock communicates wirelessly with an IP hub placed near the door. Multiple locks can communicate with a single IP hub, which, in turn, communicates with the access control system. This means the door is online. In other words, it can be opened remotely or an alarm can be generated if the door’s open too long, for example. For this type of lock, the lock and IP hub must be from the same manufacturer.
Wireless offline access control also works with a battery lock, but the lock isn’t connected directly to the access control system. Authorisations transmit to the lock via the access card. So it’s not possible to open the door remotely or get alarms from the lock in real time.
An access control system can combine a mix of these three types of locks.
What problem do you want your access control system to solve?
Installing an access control system involves a significant investment and needs considerable thought to ensure you get the right setup for you. For many organisations, the drivers for investing in access control include getting rid of mechanical keys, increasing the level of security and simplifying access management.
If increasing your level of security is your prime motivation, offline locks are generally not the best choice because you have no direct control over the door. Also, the authorisations are held on the cards so you can’t revoke or change them in real time. A system with offline locks is often cheaper, but it’s important to keep sight of your objectives for your system rather than buy purely based on costs.
Are battery locks a poor choice? Certainly not. There are many situations where battery locks are an excellent option – meeting rooms with glass doors, for example. Installing wired access control in this situation is almost impossible. But you still want to have the meeting rooms closed off to unauthorised people. Battery locks offer a good solution – and an affordably one- without having to use keys. Battery locks are also a good option for hotel rooms, offices and storerooms, for example. Whatever your choice, it’s important to remember the objective you had in mind when you decided to opt for an access control system.
Ask the right questions
Whether you’re choosing from wired, wireless online or wireless offline systems: make sure you ask the right questions to get the right system for you. Usually, a mix of the various types of access control within one system is the best option to ensure each door has the optimum lock type.
When designing your access control system, the questions to ask include:
- If the batteries are dead and this door can’t be opened for a couple of hours, is this acceptable considering our business operations?
- Do we need to use the same interface for creating cards for both our online and offline systems? Or do we want two separate systems?
- Do we want to integrate our access control system with other systems (e.g. camera monitoring or burglar alarms)?
- Do we want the same level of security for meeting room doors that we have for exterior doors?
- Must it be possible for this door to be opened remotely (by the receptionist, for example)?
My answer to the question of whether a company’s main entrance should be secured with a battery lock is «no». But there are many other types of door where I would use a battery lock.
In the whitepaper below, you’ll find further explanation of the various types of access control.