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Comprehensive Mercury Security access control review

Mercury Security is a popular access control hardware manufacturer for commercial access control customers and is a well-established name in the industry. Acquired by HID Global in 2017, Mercury is most well-known for its controllers and boards. The Mercury boards feature wired or ethernet connectivity, and some models use OSDP for IP networks to allow them to be compatible with a variety of systems. While Mercury Security access control is predominantly designed to work alongside HID access control solutions, many other providers offer some level of compatibility with Mercury controllers. For example, Avigilon is a Platinum Elite Mercury partner, providing seamless access management for Mercury board systems through Avigilon Unity Access. 

This Mercury access control review breaks down the cost, hardware options and software providers to help you determine whether on-premise Mercury or a Mercury board replacement for cloud-based systems is right for your business. 

The leading solution in access control

  • Multi-tech readers support mobile, PIN codes, key cards and fobs

  • Touchless and remote unlock backed by 99.9% reliability

  • Intuitive cloud software with real-time remote management

  • 5MP video and smart AI intercom with mobile monitoring

  • Open standards for frictionless integration across all systems

  • Scales to secure a single entry or entire enterprises with ease

  • Standard wiring and PoE options with easy snap-in installation

  • Automatic updates, offline sync and encryption at every level

Mercury Security access control price

Comparing the cost of Mercury Security to other on-premise hardware providers, the up-front cost of Mercury access control panels is standard for the industry. As with any deployment, however, there are additional costs and fees to factor into your budget. Some of the factors to consider before investing in a Mercury access control system are:

  • Any existing systems you want to integrate 

  • The number of workstations needed to manage your security 

  • Whether you want the ability to manage systems remotely 

  • Cost of Mercury board replacement if you need to switch providers

  • Long-term maintenance of the system, which requires in-person upgrades

The cost of a Mercury access system will also depend on whether you’re working with existing Mercury controllers, or looking to deploy a brand-new system. The size of the building and number of locations will determine the cost of wiring to Mercury boards. You’ll also need to consider the costs of wiring to third-party readers, unless you’re using the limited range of Mercury card readers available. 

Because Mercury does not offer any management software, you’ll need to invest in another provider for this service. Choosing a provider with an open API, such as Avigilon, makes it easier to integrate your Mercury-based access system with other tools and platforms. Plus, Avigilon Unity Access is fully unified with Avigilon Unity Video to provide enhanced situational awareness with an end-to-end solution.

Mercury hardware review

An important distinction to note about Mercury control panels is that some providers are not using authentic Mercury boards. Some providers use Mercury firmware, but manufacture their own boards. This often results in considerable customization work to support a third-party access control system, and can be very expensive in the long run. 

If you want the best experience with Mercury access control systems, look for authentic Mercury providers that have OEM hardware. As a Platinum Elite Mercury partner, Avigilon supports Authentic Mercury PACS Hardware and ensures customers can leverage the full feature set of Mercury controllers and boards while maintaining a low total cost of ownership. 

Mercury controllers and boards

As a company that primarily manufactures access controllers and boards, the majority of Mercury access control reviews focus on these products. There are a few different product lines of Mercury access control boards designed with different connectivity options, outputs and relays to support varying door densities. The full range of Mercury access control panels can support anywhere from one door up to 64 entries, with hard-wired and PoE+ enabled options, so organizations can select the right panel for their specific deployment. For example, the Mercury Intelligent Controller line features an on-board ethernet port to enable connection to cloud or server-based systems. 

There are also six Mercury access control board product lines that are no longer manufactured. If an organization is currently using any of these boards, most access control integrators will suggest a Mercury board replacement to upgrade to more advanced models to minimize security risks. 

Mercury card readers 

While there are some Mercury readers still available, there are better options from other access control providers in today’s market. Mercury card readers and keypad readers still rely on outdated PIN and swipe card technology, with no support for mobile credentials. Magnetic swipe cards and keypad readers often pose a security risk compared to more modern key card and fob technology. 

For customers with current Mercury MR series readers, most security integrators will recommend replacing the Mercury reader with a more modern, futureproof option that employs advanced encryption. If you want to keep your Mercury boards, migrating to a solution like Avigilon Unity Access allows you to update your edge devices and Mercury card readers, without replacing Mercury controllers or boards. 

If you are looking to do a full Mercury board replacement alongside replacing Mercury card readers, the cloud-native Avigilon Alta solution may be a good alternative, with multi-technology Smart Readers, Video Readers and Video Intercom Readers that support multiple secure access methods, with 99.9% unlock reliability for mobile credentials. Plus, with standard wiring, it’s easy for installers to replace Mercury card readers with the sleek, touchless Avigilon Alta readers. 

Mercury access control software and management

Software is an important part of any access control system, as most of the day-to-day operations are conducted within the software client. Actions such as adding and removing users, adjusting permissions, setting door schedules and auditing access activity should be easy and intuitive. Because Mercury only manufactures access control panels and controller boards with a limited range of readers, organizations need to work with separate providers for readers and management software. Switching Mercury access control software providers usually requires a one-time fee and in-person firmware upgrade. The total cost of switching your Mercury access control software depends on the number of Mercury panels that need to be upgraded and the chosen provider.

Working with an approved OEM partner like Avigilon Unity for Mercury access control software gives organizations the benefit of flexible, scalable management for on-premise systems. Ideal for high-security deployments already running on Mercury boards, a browser-based software like Avigilon Unity Access offers unique features like alarm management, remote unlocking and native integration into Avigilon Unity video security systems. 

For multi-site organizations that want to centralize security management, a cloud-based solution may be preferred. By operating in the cloud, access control software like Avigilon Alta eliminate the need for a dedicated workstation or thick software clients, instead allowing administrators to access their entire management platform from any device, anywhere in the world. However, at the time of this Mercury access control review, there are only a few cloud-based software options available for Mercury systems, and most still require an additional provider for readers and other access control hardware. For businesses that want to migrate from Mercury to the cloud, replacing a Mercury board system with an end-to-end cloud solution like Avigilon Alta is likely the best option.

The ultimate guide to access control

Learn everything you need to successfully future-proof your physical access control system with this buyer’s guide.

On-premise Mercury access control vs. cloud-based systems

The Mercury Security access control OEM technology allows Mercury controller boards to be used for both legacy and cloud-based security applications, but is most commonly used for on-premise security systems. When choosing a security provider, Mercury compatibility for access control is a key factor to consider, especially if your building already has Mercury boards installed. This Mercury access control review covers the benefits of using Mercury controllers for your on-premise security, as well as the best options for Mercury board replacement if you’re considering alternative solutions.

Key differences between on-prem Mercury access control and cloud-based options 


Cloud access control

On-premise access control

Complete access control solution

End-to-end security for any size deployment

Open API for integrations

Some Mercury OEM providers, like Avigilon, have an open architecture for easy integration 

Serverless management

Cloud solutions are hosted on secure third-party servers with no on-site infrastructure needed 

Local data retention

Mercury controllers and boards connect to on-site servers for data storage 

Mobile credentials

Avigilon Alta is a mobile-first solution and also supports legacy keycards and fobs 

Wi-Fi connectivity

Mercury controllers are unable to connect to Wi-Fi as a power supply 

GSA APL certified

Avigilon Unity’s on-premise Mercury systems are approved for federal government deployments 

Alternatives to Mercury Security access control

If you’re running an existing security system on Mercury access control panels but want to change providers, you have a few different options. To retain your investment, look for a system with Mercury compatibility for access control, such as Avigilon Unity. Or, you have the option of doing a Mercury controller replacement to switch to a fully cloud-based access solution. 

Migrating an existing Mercury Security system to Avigilon Unity 

Avigilon Unity Access is a good option for customers with an existing Mercury Security access control system that want additional flexibility and control. Avigilon Unity is a Platinum Elite Mercury Partner, offering OEM Mercury controllers, interface modules and I/O boards as part of their access control solution. The appliance-based system is available in physical or virtual instances, giving you more options for how, when and where to manage security across the property. 

Customers can use the browser-based Unity system from any mobile device, eliminating the need to constantly staff a client workstation or specific laptop. For video security customers using Avigilon cameras and Mercury boards, access control through Unity Access offers seamless unification with Unity Video. The Avigilon Unity system is compatible with Mercury board and controller hardware, with options for PoE, PoE+ or RS-485 connectivity. 

Similar to LenelS2 access control, many Mercury access control reviews call out the expense and frustration with migrating to a new platform. However, Avigilon Unity makes this process simple, without the high fees other legacy providers charge. You can retain your initial investment with Avigilon Unity’s migration services, which allow users to upgrade to Unity without doing a full Mercury board replacement. A subcontractor performs a one-time migration of field hardware data from an onsite Mercury access control hardware-based system into Unity. 

Additional benefits of using Avigilon Unity for your Mercury based access control system include: 

  • RESTful API for third-party device and system integrations, including custom integrations

  • Open-platform hardware to fit every need and prevent vendor lock-in for greater flexibility

  • Compatibility with HID readers, Farpointe Data readers and wireless lock providers such as Schlage, ASSA ABLOY and SALTO

  • Included break-fix tech support

Flexible, scalable management for on-premise systems

  • 100% browser-based, turnkey security solution

  • Integrate via RESTful API and open-platform hardware support

  • Manage role-based identities and streamline alarm management

  • Interactive maps display identities’ locations in real-time 

  • Mobile app enables easy access management 

  • Integration with leading third-party wireless lock vendors

  • Video management software unification for end-to-end security

Avigilon Alta cloud-based access control solutions

If an on-premise managed system is not the right fit, a cloud-based option may be a good replacement for Mercury access control. As a leading global provider and manufacturer based in the US, Avigilon Alta (formerly Openpath) empowers businesses with a mobile-first and fully cloud-based access control system. Built on open standards, Avigilon Alta is designed to seamlessly integrate with both existing systems and future tools. The growing app ecosystem features 45+ leading technology companies.

Ideal for new deployments that want the most advanced, futureproof technology, Avigilon Alta gives organizations greater control and flexibility without sacrificing security. One of the top benefits of the Avigilon Alta solution is the ability to roll out new features and system updates instantly over the cloud, so there’s no need to schedule an appointment with an integrator or disrupt operations with system downtime.

For companies looking to do a Mercury controller replacement, a certified Avigilon Alta installer will swap out the Mercury board for one of Avigilon Alta’s controller panels, which securely make all access decisions. Choose from the compact all-in-one Single Door Controller for small and add-on deployments, or opt for 4- and 8‑door controllers for larger setups. Expansion boards allow you to also add access control to elevators, turnstiles, parking gates and more. Avigilon Alta also offers a full line of sleek, award-winning Smart Readers, which support touchless access and mobile credentials, as well as encrypted MIFARE DESFire key cards and fobs. Avigilon multi-technology readers also support existing legacy credentials that are commonly used with Mercury access control.

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