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Property crime continues to rank among the most commonly reported offenses in the US, with the FBI estimating around 7 million incidents annually. For commercial property owners, protecting their physical assets and valued employees is a primary concern.
Commercial lock systems for door access are often the first line of defense for business owners looking to keep intruders out and improve employee safety. However, developing and implementing an effective access control solution is often more nuanced than buying the newest technology.
This guide covers the types of commercial door locks, how to choose the right door locks for your business and how installing traditional and electronic commercial door locks can improve physical security.
Commercial door lock types for businesses
There are different types of commercial door llocks available to modern businesses. From simple mechanical locks and latch types and key mechanisms to electronic commercial smart locks, there’s a system to suit most needs.
Mortise door lock systems
Mortise locks are traditional locking mechanisms that must be installed directly to an existing door frame. A pocket or mortise will be cut from the frame, with the space used to house the locking mechanism. Mortise locks contain no electronic components and use traditional keys as a form of access credential. As a result, they’re typically inexpensive to install.
A standard mortise business door lock system consists of:
A mechanical lock body installed in the door frame
A handle or lever used to manipulate the mechanism
A strike plate used to hold the lock in place
A keyed cylinder used to lock or unlock the door
Mortise locks are inexpensive, easy to install and simple to operate, but they provide limited security benefits, as keys can be stolen or copied. Additionally, this type of lock cannot be integrated into wider security systems.
Cylindrical door locks
Cylindrical commercial door lock systems operate similarly to mortise locks. Rather than being installed into a fabricated section of the frame, these mechanisms will be inserted through a hole in the face of the door. This means that cylindrical locks are typically easy to install.
Just like mortise systems, cylindrical locks are mechanical devices that feature no electronic components and use traditional keys as a form of access credential. They also share many of the same characteristics, including a lack of integration and poor credential security.
Electronic locks for commercial doors
Electronic commercial door locks, also known as electric strike locks, are a main component of modern access control systems and are typically installed to replace traditional door strikes. Electric strike locks are mechanical devices, although they also contain an electric motor used to manipulate an internal lock bolt. This holds the door shut until an electronic signal is received.
Electronic commercial door locks require credentials capable of sending an electronic signal to disengage the mechanism, meaning a keypad, proximity card, or other wireless sensors will also need to be installed. As electric strike locks will stay locked until power is supplied, a backup generator will be required to ensure that the system remains functional during blackouts.
Magnetic business door lock systems
Magnetic commercial door locks are often viewed as an alternative to electric strike locks, with both mechanisms functioning in a similar fashion. Maglock systems consist of an electromagnet fixed to the door frame and a metal armature plate that holds the door shut with magnetic force.
Just like electric strike locks, magnetic lock mechanisms require an electronic signal to be sent to an internal motor for the door to be unlocked. However, these systems require a constant power supply to remain locked, meaning if power is lost, all connected maglocks will disengage.
Keyless commercial smart locks
Keyless commercial smart locks and touchless access control systems are popular among modern businesses, as they provide a more convenient and hygienic way to move throughout commercial properties. This type of commercial door lock can also be easily integrated with existing security systems.
Keyless smart locks for commercial doors are powered by electricity, with many modern devices capable of Internet connectivity, allowing businesses to create remote door lock commercial access systems. Typically, these types of commercial door locks fall into one of four categories:
Keypad door lock systems. Keypad systems remove the need for traditional physical credentials by granting access to authorized users with PIN codes. Some systems also offer smartphone integration, allowing codes to be entered on a virtual keypad.
Proximity-based lock systems. Proximity-based or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) door lock commercial access control systems use key cards and fobs as a replacement for traditional keys. Users are issued unique credentials stored within a physical key card. When a card is held close to a wall-mounted reader, a signal will be sent to the connected door lock to grant access.
Mobile credential smart locks. This type of system functions similarly to RFID locks in that a mobile credential in a user’s personal device must be held in proximity to an access reader. Mobile systems remove the cost of physical key cards and can be further secured behind in-device password protections.
Biometric commercial smart locks. These locks use biometric information unique to each user as a form of access credential. Common credential types include fingerprints, retina or iris scans and face ID. These systems are typically used to secure high-risk areas, as they’re generally more expensive than other forms of access control.
Commercial door lock types for businesses
Alongside selecting the most appropriate commercial door hardware types and locking mechanisms, business owners must ensure that the systems they install utilize locks of a suitable grade. Lock grades in the US are determined by the Builders Home Manufacturers Association (BHMA) and authorized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
The commercial lock grading system is intended to help businesses choose the best hardware for any unique installation, with all commercial door lock hardware units evaluated based on functionality, security, material, durability, application, longevity and finish.
All commercial lock systems for door access fall into one of three grading categories:
Grade 1 commercial locks
Grade 1 commercial door locks are considered to be the strongest and most secure locking systems available, with these hardware devices proven to provide long-lasting durability and a high degree of security, typically withstanding around twice the amount of use as other grades.
For these reasons, grade 1 commercial door locks are commonly used to secure exterior and interior access points in high-security environments, such as educational facilities, hospitals, financial institutions, government-owned properties and large-scale commercial office buildings.
Grade 2 commercial locks
Grade 2 commercial metal door locks are classified as mid-range systems. These solutions are considered to be slightly less durable and secure than grade 1 hardware. Although these locks are not deemed appropriate for primary access points, they can be effective in a few situations.
Grade 2 door lock systems are most commonly used to secure alternative exterior access doors that experience low to medium foot traffic and interior access ways that require a high level of security but are also protected by wider systems, such as CCTV security cameras and alarms.
Grade 3 commercial locks
Grade 3 commercial door lock systems are the least durable and secure solutions available to modern businesses, although they’re also more inexpensive to source. Grade 3 locks are suited to light applications, especially when supported by extra security features like sensors and alarms.
Common uses for grade 3 commercial door lock systems include interior doors in residential properties, communal areas in offices, low-risk storerooms and any other low-security access points for which individuals will have already had to pass one or more grade 1 locks to access.
What are electronic smart commercial door locks?
Electronic commercial door locks are typically installed as a primary component of a wider access control system, with these devices requiring an electronic signal to be sent from a connected access control reader for the internal locking mechanism to function.
Traditional mortise and cylindrical locks are not compatible with modern electronic access systems, meaning electronic commercial door locks, including electric strike and maglock systems, are almost always utilized as a part of a business access control system.
Commercial electronic door lock system components
Commercial automatic door locks and electronic access systems are seen as essential security components by most modern organizations, as these systems are designed to provide security staff with an accurate record of all access attempts for auditing purposes, and can be integrated to wider systems to trigger automated alerts and allow remote access management.
Commercial electronic door locks are just one component of modern access systems, meaning to develop an effective entry solution, businesses must understand how each element functions. Other components of a commercial entry solution include:
The control panel stores all the data required to both program and operate the wider access system. Usually installed in a secure location such as a primary IT or security office, this device contains a database of all active access credentials and software used to grant or deny access.
Wall-mounted readers are installed next to each access point and connected to both the control panel and a set of commercial electronic door locks. If a user presents valid credentials to the reader, an electronic signal will be sent to the locking mechanism instructing the doors to open.
Credentials are unique data issued to each employee and used to request access when presented to a stationary reader. Common credential types include PIN codes, RFID cards, mobile credentials and biometric information, with some systems supporting multiple types.
Most modern access systems use electric strike or magnetic commercial door latch types to secure access points. As electric strike locks are fail-secure, they’re typically used to lock high-security areas, while fail-safe magnetic locks are required for emergency egress doors.
Each electronic door lock system will be connected to a management software program that allows security staff to manage user permissions, create authentication rules, receive real-time alerts related to access attempts and use data from access readers to trigger additional systems. For example, when a reader is accessed, nearby IP security cameras may be programmed to begin recording in order to identify the individual entering a property.
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How to choose the right type of commercial door hardware
Before investing in any new commercial lock hardware, the best business or smart office door lock type should meet the following requirements:
An effective commercial electronic door lock system will be used frequently by staff and visitors every day, meaning the system must be easy to use and consistent in operation. Many organizations now prioritize automatic door locks for business and commercial remote door lock systems for these reasons, with RFID and mobile credentials enabling simple touchless access.
Electric door locks commercial access systems represent a business’ primary line of defense against physical crimes and intrusion events, so property owners must ensure all lock hardware is of the highest quality. If possible, grade 1 commercial locks should be installed to secure all access points, although grade 2 locks can be used to secure some internal doorways.
Electronic commercial door locks should be integrated into wider commercial security systems to improve property security and aid security staff in overseeing security in one place. For example, commercial Wi-Fi door lock systems can be connected to a cloud-based management portal and configured to send alerts in response to failed access attempts. On-site teams can then access live camera feeds to investigate the incident further.
Developing and installing a new commercial door lock system can be both expensive and time-consuming, meaning an effective solution will be designed with longevity in mind. Chosen locks must be durable, easy to maintain and able to be integrated into wider systems to ensure they don’t become redundant as the business grows and when additional devices are added to the system.
The benefits of commercial smart door lock systems
Electronic commercial door locks and property access systems provide business owners with a reliable and effective way to prevent intrusion events and protect valuable assets. Some benefits of commercial door lock systems include:
Business smart door lock systems and commercial automatic door locks installed as part of a wider access control system can improve efficiency by streamlining property access. Verified users can move throughout the building freely using touchless credentials, and security teams can issue, adjust and revoke permissions remotely without needing to manually update keys.
Electronic commercial door locks connected to modern access readers are designed to record every access event automatically. By providing security staff with an accurate audit log, teams can quickly investigate suspicious events, inform scheduling and activate HVAC systems with the aid of occupancy data and keep track of issued guest credentials using visitor management systems.
With a commercial door lock system in operation, business owners can ensure that only verified persons are able to access private properties. Additional rules can be set via management software to ensure that all doors are locked after a certain time and that only individuals carrying management credentials have access to high-security areas like server rooms and cash vaults.
Commercial door lock systems integrated with security cameras such as 360-degree security cameras allow security teams to immediately view access points if suspicious activity is detected. Motion sensors and alarms can be connected to the system and programmed to trigger if intruders attempt to force doors open, and cameras can automatically alert security staff, as well as record and log incidents.
Commercial electronic door locks and access systems allow businesses to approach property security with more flexibility. Unique rules can be set to allow doors to be accessible at specific hours, credentials can be issued and adjusted remotely, and new readers and additional technologies can be added to the wider security system as business needs change and organizations scale.
Electronic locks for commercial doors integrated with smart access control readers can be connected to a cloud-based security management system. Doing so allows security teams to view, adjust and manage active devices remotely with real-time alerts. Doors can be opened, commercial surveillance cameras can be adjusted, and alarms can be triggered from a web-based interface.
Considerations for commercial and office door lock systems
It’s important that business owners and security professionals consider how new business door lock systems are to be installed, managed and maintained according to their specific property and organizational structure. Any unique requirements at this stage may affect which type of commercial door locks will be most appropriate for the property. Consider the following factors:
Business owners must determine how many unique access points will need to be secured using electronic commercial door locks and access readers before committing to a new installation. Is suitable wiring infrastructure present? Would a wireless system be better suited? Will multiple types of door lock systems be needed to secure low-risk and high-security areas appropriately?
A number of industry-specific rules and regulations may also affect the office door lock type that teams should propose. Security and IT staff will need to comply with data security rules when handling certain credentials, such as biometric information, and some access points may need to be secured using maglocks to comply with emergency egress and evacuation rules.
Compatibility and integrations
Electronic commercial door locks and access systems should always be designed as part of a wider property security system, meaning all new devices must be compatible with the existing technology. Teams must consider how new door lock systems will be integrated into video security cameras like outdoor PTZ security cameras, on-site alarms, motion detectors, and security and building management platforms.
Ease of use
An effective business door lock system will be simple to use for both security teams and general employees. How easy is it to create, adjust and manage user credentials? Is the user interface intuitive? If hundreds of users are expected to use the system daily, a touchless RFID or mobile credential system may be best suited to allow for fast touchless entry.
Security needs are likely to change as a business grows, meaning any new door lock systems should be easy to scale. Can new access readers be added to the system? Can multiple sites be controlled using the same management platform? If business owners intend to expand their operations, it may be wise to consider a cloud-based system to simplify security management.
Business door lock systems and access readers must be frequently updated and serviced to ensure no new vulnerabilities are exposed. On-site servers may be at less risk from cyber attacks, but systems will need to be updated manually. Cloud-based systems will be updated automatically, although business owners will need to pay a subscription fee to a service provider.
Key takeaways for buying commercial smart lock systems for doors
Electronic commercial door locks and wider access security systems are essential to the safe and secure operation of modern organizations. However, developing and implementing an effective business door lock system will require teams to carefully consider their unique needs.
Business owners must work closely with security and IT teams to develop customized installations designed to provide long-lasting security protection, which in many cases will mean choosing a combination of different locks, access readers, management software and wider security technology tools.
Consider whether on-site or cloud-based servers will be most appropriate, where electric strike or magnetic locks will be required and ensure that all newly proposed devices can be integrated into existing systems. Approach every access point as a unique consideration, like choosing a smart lock for commercial glass door entryways and biometric readers for high-risk locations, and always ensure that final installations can be scaled in line with expected business growth.
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