What is standalone door access control and why install it?

Using access control in your building is the easiest way to improve your security whilst managing the flow of people. While a fully integrated access control system will always provide the highest level of protection, standalone access control is the simplest way to secure a building. Suppose you need to improve security and protect the people and assets in your building at a low cost. In that case, standalone access control could be the right solution for you.

What is standalone access control?

Standalone access control is generally used for small offices or remote locations where complex wiring would be expensive. A small unit is wired onto each individual door you choose to control. However, there is no need to control every door and no need for doors to be connected to a PC network.

Anyone who should have access to the door can be quickly added to the system. They can then be issued with the chosen way of gaining access: an electronic token, a card, or a biometric pass. Keys can be lost, but if someone loses their card, for example, it can be barred from the system, and a new one can be issued. If someone tries to gain access with the lost card, they cannot compromise the security of the building.

Standalone access control vs over online access control

Standalone access control systems (also known as offline access control) are used for smaller projects that can be implemented quickly, easily, and cheaply. Only three elements are required: a power supply, a card reader or keypad, and a proximity tag or card. 

Only authorised people with a tag or card can open the door, which must be manually added to each individual door controller. There is no way of centrally controlling and managing individual doors—in contrast to online access control, with which authorisations can be changed from a computer or smartphone.

However, if you are looking for a system that is scalable and has advanced features, giving limited access to third parties, for example, then online access control is the better choice. This is a centralised technology that can be used to create different user profiles for different access points and provides more complete visibility. It can also be integrated into a more comprehensive security system with alarms and CCTV

Advantages of standalone

door access control

Advantages of online

access control

Easy to use Scalable
Hardly any maintenance Provides a complete security solution
Cost-effective Reports data
No specialist training is needed for the end-user Remote access

What are the desirable qualities of a good system?

  • Instant software updates that ensure the system maintains optimal performance 
  • Fast and low-cost installation due to a convenient wiring architecture
  • Ability to mount standalone access control on any door 
  • Built-in vandalism alerts
  • Wi-Fi support for network connectivity
  • Remote troubleshooting and diagnostics tools

What security features should you look for in a good system?

  • Cloud-based security with end-to-end encryption 
  • Remote lockdown capabilities in the event of an emergency
  • Integration with video management software, user management software, and communication applications 
  • Monitoring, reporting, and alert notifications in real-time
  • Hands-free mobile credentials for contactless access

The benefits of standalone door access control 

Save money

One of the main benefits of a standalone access control system is to reduce the costs of your building. Replacing lost keys and changing the locks of doors is expensive—not to mention inconvenient. Changing locks to ensure security could be a constant task if you have a large building with many employees. However, mounting standalone access control on doors that need to be secure can help to make significant savings.

Say goodbye to traditional keys

Traditional keys can easily be lost and stolen, so they are a security risk. If your building requires different people to have different security clearances, they will need many keys. If these keys go astray, every lock will have to be changed for security reasons. Standalone access control for doors that require an extra level of security eliminates this risk. 

Track people entering and exiting

Knowing who enters and exits your premises gives you the confidence that everyone is working where they should be. Also, in the event of an incident, it is easy to identify who was in that area during a specific time.

Reduce theft and protect staff

If door access is controlled, no unauthorised individual will be able to enter. No outside intruder or member of staff without the right level of permission will be able to gain access to the controlled area, meaning the chance for theft will be reduced. Also, the security of your site and the safety of your employees and visitors will be greatly increased. 

Improve employee experience

With access control, employees do not have to worry about losing keys and the resulting inconvenience. In addition, it provides them with an improved employee experience as they will be able to easily access restricted areas to which they have security clearance.

Different types of standalone access control systems?

Card readers

Card readers are the most common type of access control. Users are issued with a unique card that is scanned by a reader and allows access. These systems are relatively cheap to implement; however, you will have to spend time administering the system: issuing, revoking, and replacing credentials. There can also be issues with lost cards or employees sharing their credentials. 

Keypads or PIN pads

With this system, the user is given a code, which they must enter to unlock the door and gain access. Remembering the code is a prerequisite for this system to function. 

Mobile credentials

This technology is currently the most popular access control method, especially post-pandemic. It relies on the user hosing mobile credentials on their smartphone. Users must download a mobile app and present their smartphone to the reader for the door to unlock. If the system uses motion-activated sensors, the user does not need to take out their phone to gain contactless entry to the door. 

Biometric readers

Biometric readers are often used for high-security access—laboratories, for example. They scan the user's fingerprint, face, or retina to unlock access. In addition, the technology is frequently used with another type of access control for an even more secure two-factor authentication system. 

Single-door access control system for large businesses

Although large businesses are more likely to want an online, scalable security system, they can still benefit from using single door access control as an additional security tool. For example, businesses operating apartment buildings, multi-tenant offices, or warehouses could use single door access control to restrict access to specific rooms outside the main system. This would allow you to track who accessed that space and when to provide an extra layer of security.

Any business operating an online security system can quickly and painlessly install an extra standalone door entry system that wirelessly communicates with the rest of the system. And single door systems can easily be installed alongside a business's legacy system. 

When should you consider a single-door access control?

Any building can benefit from conducting regular security inspections. Using a security audit checklist is a useful way of identifying weaknesses in your current system—and a professional security company will be able to help you find the most appropriate solution for your building. Standalone door access can be used alongside a more complete system, and it is a great, low-cost option if you have up to three doors you need to secure. 

Access Control

Darren Gibbons
Written by Darren Gibbons

Darren is a security systems, life safety and fire protection specialist and Managing Director of Ace Fire & Security.