You’ve made the decision to go with a keyless entry system for your secured area. But which kind of keyless entry is the best? Do you need a card system? Or are keypads the answer for you? Here is a comparison of some of the pros and cons of each system.
Keypads are a type of combination lock, and simply require that users remember a sequence of numbers or characters to gain access. Most systems allow for multiple codes to be generated, and some have the capability of restricting access by certain codes or groups of codes to particular times.
Keypads don’t require any kind of physical object to open. Nobody has to remember to carry their card with them, or make sure that it is accessible when they are ready to open a door. It is also possible to easily regenerate new or replacement codes, since there are no physical objects involved.
The simplicity of the keypad, with no physical object necessary, is also its weakness. Codes can easily be shared, so it can be difficult to keep tabs on who has access to the building or secured area. This can be mitigated with some keypad systems by creating multiple codes for different people or groups of people, changing codes regularly, or even setting certain times when a code works.
People forget! It’s a fact of life. Unfortunately, forgetting the combination for a keypad can leave a person stranded outside a secured area to which they have legitimate access. Combinations are the kind of complex information that it is easy to lose track of in emergencies or other high stress situations.
Card readers require the user to carry a physical object that is either swiped or placed close to a proximity reader. Magnetic stripe readers require contact with the reader, while RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification key) cards or fobs simply need to be carried or held close to a reader. Proximity readers come in a variety of ranges.
Card reader pros
Card readers don’t require anyone to remember a combination of numbers or characters. People with authorized access simply need to remember to carry their card or fob with them to gain access to secured areas. In addition, cards are generally a simple one-step process, without the potential for tangled fingers on a keypad.
Card reader cons
Physical objects such as cards or fobs are prone to being lost, stolen, or damaged. Cards used for magnetic stripe readers wear out after a while, and someone may be locked out of a secured area before they realize that their card needs to be replaced. Depending on the technology involved, cards can be expensive or difficult to replace on a regular basis.
Making the decision
Since keypads are easy to use, and many of them make it easy to generate a large number of codes for use by different people or groups, they make sense in light or medium security areas used by large groups of people. Depending on the particular keypad chosen, security can be enhanced by changing codes often, or restricting access by some codes to certain times.
Since card readers require an additional physical object that is difficult or impossible to duplicate, they are ideal for higher security areas. Authorized personnel should be instructed in security standards for their personal keycards or fobs to minimize the risk of loss or theft. In addition, the decision about which card reader to use should be made in light of the particular security needs of your location.