When & Where to Use an Access Control System

Chrissy Priest | November 16, 2020

Access Control System

You did it: You’ve upgraded your residential doors, interior service doors, or vacation rental doors to smart lock technology. Installation was a breeze, access management is easier than ever, and you’re ready to explore more smart lock options for additional doors across your properties — but sometimes, a smart lock simply won’t cut it. Maybe you need long-term dependability for a busy main entry without the worry of draining battery life, or perhaps you’re securing a more complex door, such as an elevator or a parking garage. While smart locks are some of the safest and most reliable access options for many entry points across a typical property, they can have limitations, especially when it comes to areas of low connectivity and extremely high usage (hundreds or thousands of opens per day). Regardless of the size of your business or the number of properties in your portfolio, any building can benefit from the one-two punch of a hardwired access control system (ACS) paired with a variety of smart locks. Deciding when and where to use this solution depends on your access goals, your budget, and the capabilities of existing doors on your property. 


What is an Access Control System? 

Access Control Systems are built to serve main entrances, elevators, and anywhere else with heavy traffic. They allow for a huge variety of credential types and can be customized with readers that accept multiple credentials (PIN, card, mobile, and more). While they require professional installation, they are still capable of connecting to the cloud and being managed remotely. RemoteLock offers access control systems in a variety of configurations that can be managed from our cloud-based software.

An ACS is professionally installed and hardwired into your building’s power supply. Each system is comprised of control panels, keypads, readers, locks, and credentials that can be customized to a property’s specific needs. While the upfront installation cost may turn away businesses that aren’t ready for a significant investment — hardware configurations and installations vary, but are typically over $3,000 and can occasionally reach up to $10,000 per door — the benefits will be well-worth it in the long run. With a constant source of power rather than dependability on batteries, the flexibility to choose a variety of credential types, and the ability to support cloud-enabled locks and to be controlled remotely, an ACS is arguably the most robust piece of access control hardware you’ll find. But when and where do you need one?  

Keep reading to identify the most common doors and access points that often (or always) require an ACS. 


Main Entrances, Entry Gates, & Other Exterior High-Traffic Entries

These are typically considered very busy doors, or high-traffic entries, which encounter hundreds or thousands of uses per day. In these cases, relying on a smart lock would result in a very quickly-drained battery and multiple replacements per year. In addition, entry gates or other busy entrances that are located outside and separated from the main building will most likely have little to no WiFi connectivity, which means your WiFi-enabled smart lock won’t come online. On the flipside, a wired ACS relies on your building’s power supply rather than batteries, meaning it will function just as long as your property has electricity — and it doesn’t require connection to your local WiFi network to run smoothly. 

How to decide: Determine whether your entry encounters over 100 uses per day, and measure connectivity to your WiFi network from the door. 


Glass Doors 

In many cases, your glass door may be your main entrance, which most likely requires an ACS based on the number of users accessing the door per day. If your glass door is a less-trafficked interior entrance, you may not require an ACS — but this will depend on the width of the doorframe. You can determine this yourself by measuring the width of the door’s stile, or the vertical bars on either side of the glass. In many cases, the stile is too narrow to support installation of a smart lock, depending on which lock you choose. Visit our Support page for installation tips and instructions. 

How to decide: Measure the width of the door stile to ensure it isn’t too narrow for smart lock installation. 



For properties with an elevator bank — or multiple elevators serving many floors — an ACS is usually the only option for a robust and durable access solution. Some properties may also require floor-to-floor capabilities, which allow managers to control access to certain floors for certain users. With a universal access control platform like RemoteLock, managers have ultimate flexibility and customization options for all locks and all doors — even elevators — and can control every access point from a single, easy-to-use platform. Learn more about the power of universal access control for businesses. 

How to decide: An ACS is typically always recommended for securing elevators due to very high daily traffic and the need for a constant power source. 


Parking Garages

Similar to heavily-trafficked entry gates, parking garages are usually located farther away from the main building, making consistent WiFi connectivity a challenge for smart locks. In addition, an ACS offers many options for credential types from keypads, keyfobs, prox cards, and peel-and-stick readers to make garage entry as quick and easy as possible for long-term guests or one-time visitors. 

How to decide: An ACS is typically always recommended for securing parking garages due to their separation from the main building and limited WiFi connectivity, plus greater variety for choosing credential types. 


Next Step: Software

Choosing the right access control software platform is just as important as choosing the right hardware. When considering solutions, ensure you’re sourcing software that can support all locks and doors on your properties in addition to your hardwired ACS. RemoteLock grants you real-time control and visibility into all locks inside and outside of your properties, even to your ACS — while connecting you to leading smart lock brands and integrating with third-party platforms you already know and love. Finally: You can confidently invest in a universal access control platform that’s as adaptable and capable as your business.

Interested in controlling your access control system and all your smart locks from one intuitive platform? Contact RemoteLock today to see how universal access control can transform operations for your properties.

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Chrissy Priest

Senior Writer


Chrissy Priest is RemoteLock's Senior Writer and Editor and specializes in bringing complex topics in tech to life. Prior to her roles in SaaS, Chrissy worked in account management and branding at a digital agency supporting brands like ADT Security, Mr. Coffee, and Sports Authority. Inspired by the power of human potential, Chrissy’s writing helps enterprise innovators identify cutting-edge technologies capable of driving meaningful business impact.