Access Control: Understanding Entry Devices

Posted by Kevin Cameron on Mar 28, 2020 8:08:25 AM

access control devicesYour access control system is only as good as the devices you use. Not all devices will work for every property, so it’s important to know the pros and cons of each device before making a decision. Here’s a quick guide to the most popular access control entry devices.

Keypad Reader

When it comes to simplicity, it’s hard to beat a keypad reader. Users simply punch in a specific numeric PIN to gain entry. Many keypad readers can accommodate multiple PINs to track individual users. They can be wired or wireless and can be used on both interior and exterior access points.

When users input their unique PIN, the electronic lock disengages and allows entry. Since each user has his or her own unique PIN, the system will create a timestamp every time a PIN is used, so you have a log of who’s coming and going throughout the day.

The main drawback of a keypad reader is that PINs can be easily shared or copied. Just by looking over the shoulder of an employee as they input their PIN, an unauthorized user could potentially gain access.


  • Easy to use
  • Quick installation
  • Inexpensive


  • PIN sharing can pose security risk.
  • For large companies, having so many PINs can hinder security.

Mag-Stripe Reader

Mag-stripe readers work similarly to keypad readers, but instead of using a numeric PIN, users swipe a card to gain entry. You can choose between a swipe-only system or a swipe with PIN configuration. Each user will have their own unique card.

To gain entry, users must swipe their unique keycard through the magnetic reader. Once verified, the lock will disengage and allow access. If you choose a mag-stripe reader with a PIN, users will also have to input a PIN after swiping their card to gain access.

Because they require access cards, mag-stripe readers are typically going to be more expensive in the long run compared to keypad readers.


  • Weatherproof for indoor or outdoor applications.
  • Small size can be mounted on any access point.
  • Most systems can handle up to 3,000 unique cards.


  • Cards can be lost or stolen.
  • Cards are an additional cost.

Proximity Reader

Proximity readers are very similar to mag-stripe readers but without the swiping. To gain access, users simply press their credentials to the reader — get within close proximity — and the lock will disengage. Like other entry devices, proximity readers can also be set up to maintain entry logs.

Many companies prefer proximity readers because of their versatility. Of course, they can be set up to use keycards like mag-stripe readers, but some models can also use NFC or Bluetooth connections to verify credentials. That means that users can use their smartphones to open doors!


  • Low profile.
  • Smartphone operation via Bluetooth or NFC.
  • Easy to operate – cards don’t have to be physically inserted.


  • Cards can be lost or stolen.
  • Only one level of verification.

Biometric Reader

If you’re looking for the highest level of security, a biometric reader is hard to beat. Instead of relying on PINs that can be shared or keycards that can be lost or stolen, biometric readers use fingerprint scanners or facial recognition software to verify the identity of a user. Access control is all about validating visitors and ensuring they are who they say they are. It’s nearly impossible to copy or steal another person’s face or fingerprints.

While they do offer the highest level of access control, biometric scanners are generally more expensive than most other entry devices. Creating new users in the system is also more difficult than simply programming a new PIN or printing out a new ID card.


  • High level of security.
  • Credentials can’t be copied, stolen, or lost.


  • More expensive than most entry devices.

Manage Access Control with Four Walls Security

Not all entry devices are created equal, so what works for the business across the street might not be right for you. It’s important to choose an access control system that best fits your unique needs.

No matter which access control entry device(s) you’re looking for, the experts at Four Walls Security can help! We will walk you through every step of the process from picking out the perfect entry device to installation to ensuring that your team understands how to operate your new system. We have years of experience working with homes and businesses in the Brisbane area and are ready to help you secure your property. Contact us to answer any questions or for a no obligation quote today!

Topics: Access Control, What is access control?, Who needs access control?, Access Control Systems, access control entry devices


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