Access Control Security Spectrum

There is a spectrum of access control solutions with different features, functionality and trade-offs. This page covers the basic distinctions between each category and how to choose which solution set is the best fit for your needs.

Here is a Table breakdown of the Security Spectrum Features and Functions

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Key Category Segments

First major question: do you need more users credential types than an individual pin code? If no Keypad or Mechanical categories are sufficient. If yes, you need to be Offline systems through intelligent openings.

Second major question: do you need live time immediate updates of users, schedules and audit trails; or lockdowns, or door position sensors for all the access control points? If no, then Offline through Data on card systems. If yes, then Wireless, Online, and Intelligent openings are necessary.

Access Control Category Snapshots

Mechanical Keys

This is your traditional pin tumbler lock and brass keys as used on most homes and buildings. This is the most basic system best for low users and low amount of locks. Master key systems can installed to provide user access control with locks and buildings.

Keypads – Electronic and Mechanical

This is now seen frequently in new homes with smart locks. They allow pin codes to eliminate keys to moderate simple access into a house or room. This system is ideal for a low quantity of users to provide extra convenience and user management access.
Click here to read a more detailed analysis of the pros and cons of the keypad system.

Offline Locks

Offline locks are good for small to medium buildings with less than 25 doors of access where credentials are needed. They avoid the cost of wired connections but incur the difficulty of needing to go to each lock with an independent device to update them one at a time. With the increase in technology, these are less common to apply unless unique situations. Click here to read a more detailed analysis of the pros and cons of the Offline Lock System.

Intelligent Keys

Intelligent key systems put the electronic and security data in the keys, they update the locks and the locks are semi-intelligent and not live. These systems are good for low user credentials and high lock quantities. Click here to read a more detailed analysis of the pros and cons of the Intelligent Key System.

Data on Card

Data on Card systems invert the traditional Online access control systems where the information is coming live from each door access point to make the credential the carrier of data communication – updating each lock. This system is a good fit where there is medium to high amount of credential with main entry funneled access points to update the data on credentials and then have lots of individual locks on different doors without having to wire them all in. The credential grants access to the lock and the lock is semi-intelligent. This system is effective in apartment complexes for tenants for example. Click here to read a more detailed analysis of the pros and cons of the Data on Card System.


Wireless access control systems are a combination of the traditional online system for main access points with many other doors locations that still need to be connected but are more economical than hard wiring every door. The key upgrade difference form Data on Card locks is that wireless locks pulse and receive updates frequently, where data on the card only gets updates when a credential is presented. Wireless locks can be great for a couple of doors to multiple building complexes. Click here to read a more detailed analysis of the pros and cons of the Wireless System.

Online Traditional Systems

Traditional online access control systems are what most people see and are used to. Where there is a separate reader, door controller and electric strike. These systems are great for a high quantity user, high activity and controlled operations where immediate updates back and forth are critical. They are also more reliable and require less maintenance than all the other systems because they are hard-wired in. Online systems are also the most expensive because they have the most features and robust components. Click here to read a more detailed analysis of the pros and cons of the Traditional Online System.

Mixed Systems & Platform

For complex user needs and to design the best fit between Intelligent Keys, Data on Card, Wireless and Traditional Systems can be integrated under the specific platform to find the right balance of price and features per access point while synchronizing the whole system.

If you would like a technical consultation about what Access Control System would be the best for you:

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