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No matter the size of a modern business, the installation and operation of a secure and easy-to-use access control solution should rank as a top priority. Well-implemented access controls can help to reduce security workloads, gain actionable insights into daily operations and provide staff and visitors with a convenient way of managing building access. But choosing the right system can be difficult. 

One of the biggest concerns for security teams when planning the implementation of new devices is the cost of access control systems. The cost of access control systems is heavily dependent on which reader types, extra features and management platforms are deemed most appropriate for each unique access control installation. 

When it comes to access control system prices, the most expensive option won’t always provide the highest degree of security, meaning if property owners know which features to look for, a cost-effective solution can almost always be developed. This guide will help business owners and security teams with access control systems price planning to develop an effective solution for every budget.

Hardware and access control system cost per door

Every access control budget or key card system cost plan should begin with an assessment of the property’s unique security needs. This will include an analysis of the physical space, considerations towards the required size of the installation and some research into which hardware options will be best suited. 

Number of doors 

Door access control system prices will fluctuate depending on the number of doors that need securing and the type of credential readers chosen. Each door will require its own dedicated access reader that’s able to fit appropriately into the available physical space, with additional considerations made towards how many people will need to use each access point at any given time. 

Most credential readers are designed to be installed directly into the wall next to whichever door the device is intended to secure. However, properties with tighter spaces, slimmer walls or those that feature angled corridors may require specialized hardware units that can be mounted directly into the doorframe. This will, of course, contribute to the overall door access control system price. 

Another consideration is the type of locking mechanism that will unlock the door when the user’s credentials are validated. For example, wireless commercial door locks versus electromagnetic door locks prices can vary dramatically but some may be suited for better use cases and could result in a lower overall access control system cost.

Your access control system cost per door may also fluctuate depending on the work needed to ensure the solution complies with building codes, ADA regulations and other regulations.

Number of access controllers 

The other major factor that contributes to any access control system cost per door will be the number of access control panel devices required to manage an array of credential readers. These hardware devices and door controllers will be installed throughout the property and can typically be used to control between 4 – 24 readers. 

With this in mind, choosing a solution that offers controllers designed to support your building’s door density can greatly affect the access control system cost. For example, a smaller building with just a few doors won’t need a controller for 16 doors, but for a large office complex, installing 4‑door controllers will dramatically increase the key card entry system cost.

Cloud-based access control software considerations

Modern offices and multi-tenant properties are increasingly choosing to implement smart technologies to allow security and IT teams, who may be based off-site, more flexibility when managing systems across distributed sites. Many enterprises now operate some form of cloud services, which can be used to remotely manage and maintain access control and wider security systems across multiple sites from one platform. 

It’s worth considering the implementation of cloud-based management features when budgeting for the cost of access control systems, especially those designed for new buildings, as this removes the need for expensive on-premise servers and reduces the cost of installing new wiring infrastructure. 

Most cloud platforms operate on a subscription-based model. So, when comparing cloud access control system cost, it’s important to factor in both current and future subscription fees. If your business is growing, the door access control system price will probably change based on the number of users, devices and locations in your network. Cloud based access control systems make it easier to scale your door security management with multi-buildings and allow for over-the-air updates, leading to lower overall costs in the long run.

Levels of required access and automation

Business owners and security teams must know how many people will require access and how many levels of security clearance will be needed when comparing access control system costs and prices. Some solutions may seem cost-effective at a glance, but if they’re not able to store a large enough number of unique credentials or understand varying levels of clearance, they may not be appropriate. 

Size of company

When budgeting for the cost of key card access systems, entry readers and other related hardware devices, both current and expected future company size should be carefully considered. Access control servers must be able to store and manage unique credentials for each member of staff, as well as be equipped to accommodate an influx of new hires as the company grows. 

Property owners may find that key card access systems cost less when viewed outside of this context, but when the cost of commissioning, replacing and manually issuing physical credentials is considered, a mobile system with a higher up-front cost may end up being cheaper over time. 

Management needs

The intended management and wider security features should also be discussed when planning for the cost of access control system installation. For example, a property operating IoT and IP-enabled devices such as security cameras and HVAC systems will likely find the implementation of a cloud-based platform beneficial as all active smart technologies can be integrated and controlled together. 

By connecting newly installed access readers to a cloud-based network, teams can: 

  • Set doors to lock and unlock automatically at predetermined times 
  • Monitor individual entry points and record access activity logs 
  • Receive real-time alerts and notifications via the internet 
  • Develop integrations between access readers and wider security devices, such as a video security system 

Taking the time to plan a connected cloud-based management system may even help to reduce the cost of access control systems over time. Streamlining processes to cut down on wasted resources and minimizing the risk of intrusion events through 24/7 remote-access monitoring can help decrease the cost of access control system operations.

New access control system cost 

Upgrading access devices and systems

Many properties may already have some form of legacy security system in operation, though outdated or poorly maintained devices can pose a significant security risk. The presence of existing security devices should be factored into the planning of new access system prices to work out whether any hardware can be repurposed and integrated with new devices or retired without incurring costs or affecting outstanding contracts. 

Cloud and mobile access control

For property owners looking to install entirely new security systems, the implementation of a mobile-based access control network could represent a cost-effective investment. Mobile credentials eliminate the need to budget for credentials, making them more cost-effective when compared with key fob entry system costs.

Additionally, cloud-management software providers will often handle all updates and maintenance internally, with these access control system costs included as part of a subscription package. This allows for server space to be upgraded as the business grows and grants security teams more flexibility when creating integrated technology. 

Maintenance and training costs

Business owners should be aware that some access control system price plans will require security integrators to teach managers and employees how to operate hardware devices safely, contributing to the up-front access control or key card entry system cost. Businesses can reduce staff training expenses by choosing a more intuitive system, as training can be done internally for any staff turnover. 

A further benefit when looking at cloud-based access control system cost planning is that maintenance updates and patches will be automatically rolled out to all software and connected devices, removing the costs associated with in-person maintenance checks and manual updates.

Choosing access methods and devices

Before settling on the most appropriate system, property owners must consider how convenient the access devices will be when used by staff and visitors. Choosing the cheapest option may reduce overall door access control system prices, but if staff can’t use readers safely, serious security issues could arise. 

Some employees may be more comfortable using well-known access methods like RFID proximity cards, though business owners must remember that additional expenses such as replacement cards and the installation of new wiring infrastructure will be included in the overall key card system cost. 

Further factors that will impact the key card system cost are high-security requirements. Some facilities may require the implementation of multi-factor authentication to secure high-risk environments like server rooms or cash storage areas. Biometric readers are the best suited for this use case but they are amongst the most expensive devices to purchase when comparing access control system cost per door.

Additional access control systems price considerations

Licensing fees

Factored into almost every modern access control price or key card lock system cost will be the licensing fees associated with the proprietary software each system uses. This software allows for the control and management of access credentials and can also be used to develop integrations with wider security systems. In terms of how this will affect your door access control system costs, businesses usually pay a monthly or annual licensing fee to a service provider.

Wider integrations

Regardless of whether a business owner decides to install a fully integrated security system from scratch or intends to gradually upgrade wider devices such as CCTV cameras and on-site alarms over time, the pricing of these features will have some impact on the overall cost of an access control system. 

For example, if teams have plans to build an integrated security system as the company grows, it would be wise to install appropriate wiring interfaces and control modules alongside access controls, even if it raises the initial key fob door lock system cost. This means that upgrading additional security features or structural work will be less disruptive and expensive. 

Electrical upgrades

Before solidifying plans to build and install access control systems, property owners must assess the existing wiring infrastructure to ensure that it is capable of safely supporting the new devices and systems chosen.

Many RFID-based systems can be wired directly into a standard Wiegand wiring interface and most modern mobile readers will have some degree of legacy support. However, these factors should be appropriately considered before installation, as the labor and materials required to upgrade the electrical system will have a measurable impact on the overall key fob or key card access control systems cost.

Final words on access control system costs

With 88% of companies reporting an increase in physical security threats, and 40% of US executives considering cyber attacks to be a major security concern, the importance of developing a sophisticated access control system has never been so apparent. Though to ensure that any newly proposed system is truly affordable, teams must develop a detailed price plan.

Existing access control system costs and infrastructure should be appropriately assessed to determine whether they can be repurposed or need to be retired. The size of the company should be carefully considered too, and security staff should take the time to decide the level of automation and customization needed for their operations, and whether investing in new software will help reduce the cost of door access control systems management.

Property owners should also remember that although state-of-the-art devices may have a greater initial cost, the scalability and flexibility such systems offer could become beneficial over time. Additional considerations towards management and maintenance needs, such as replacing lost credentials or manually updating servers, will contribute towards any key card or key fob access control system cost.

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