Battery locks have become a fixture in the world of access control. And that's a good thing. Battery locks provide an extra option and are a good supplement to wired access control. There are two types of solution among battery locks: online and offline. But how do you know which solution is appropriate for a particular location? In this article, I discuss the differences and focal points for online and offline battery locks.
To be wired or not to be wired
There are three types of access control on the market:
• Wired online
• Wireless online
• Wireless offline
I'll start with the classic, most customary method of access control: wired online. A direct (online) connection is created using wiring between the card reader at the door and the access-control system. The lock and the card reader are also powered by the wiring.
With wireless online, a battery lock with a built-in card reader is installed. This lock communicates wirelessly with an IP hub placed in the immediate vicinity of the door. Multiple locks can communicate with a single IP hub, which, in turn, communicates with the access-control system. The door is online. In other words, the door can be opened remotely, or a "door open too long" alarm can be generated, for example. The lock and the IP hub must be from the same manufacturer.
Wireless offline also works with a battery lock, but in this instance the lock is not connected directly to the access-control system. Authorisations are forwarded to the lock via the access card. So neither remote opening of the door nor real-time receipt of alarms from the lock is possible.
An access-control system can consist of a mix of these three types of access control.
Which problem do you want your access-control system to solve?
You don't just choose an access-control system at random. An access-control system requires a considerable investment. Getting rid of mechanical keys, increasing the level of security and simplifying access management are oft-heard reasons for investing in an access-control system.
If increasing your level of security is your prime motivation, then offline locks are generally not the best choice. After all, you have no direct control over the door. Since the authorisations are on the cards, you can't rescind or change these in real time. In practice, I note that the cheapest solution is often the one selected. And, when making that decision, one sometimes loses sight of the objective when purchasing an access-control system.
Are battery locks a poor choice? Certainly not! On the contrary, there are many situations for which battery locks are an excellent solution. Consider meeting rooms with glass doors, for example. Installing wired access control here is nearly impossible. But you still want to have the meeting rooms closed off to unauthorised persons. Battery locks offer a good solution - and an affordable one - without the need for having to use keys. Battery locks are a good solution for hotel rooms, offices and storerooms, for example. Whatever your choice, it's important to remember the objective you had in mind the moment you opted for an access-control system.
Ask the right questions
So whether you're choosing among wired, wireless online or wireless offline systems: be sure to ask the right questions. There is often a best solution to be recommended for every door. Usually, a mix of the various types of access control within the system is the right solution.
For this reason, when designing the access-control system, you should ask questions with the following in mind:
• If the batteries are dead and this door can't be opened for a couple of hours, is this acceptable considering our business operations?
• Must it be possible to use the same interface when creating cards for both the online and the offline system? Or do we want two separate systems?
• Do we want to integrate the access-control system with other systems (e.g. camera monitoring or burglar alarms)?
• De we want the same level of security for meeting-room doors that we have for exterior doors?
• Must it be possible for this door to be opened remotely (by the receptionist, for example)?
My answer to the question of whether the main entrance of a company should be secured with a battery lock is: "no". But there are many other doors for which I would indeed use a battery lock.
This whitepaper further explain the various types of access control.