There is always a tradeoff between security and costs. Since organizations can’t afford to place an armed security officer at each door 24/7, they rely on surveillance cameras, access control systems and intrusion alarms to stand watch. While card readers have been in use for decades, new IP-based access control systems can not only lower initial costs, but can be easier to administer and improve the level of security.

Traditional door access control systems use centralized control panels with card readers, which are wired back from the doors to the central control panel. They also require running a separate power connection to each of the door’s ancillary hardware devices and accessories like the lock, REX button, door-open sensor, etc.

Over the years, however, IP-based devices have been developed that embed the intelligence (business rules/permissions) in the card reader, eliminating the need for control panels. They also use the existing Ethernet networks for both power and data connectivity, providing a more flexible and scalable installation.

These advances in door access lower the cost of ownership in five ways:


Source of Savings #1 - Lower Equipment Costs

Traditional door access systems required a high initial capital investment for equipment and wiring. The organization first had to purchase a control panel, followed by a card reader and a controller for each door. Each panel was limited in terms of the number of doors it could manage. Adding one door over that limit required the purchase of an additional control panel. Each door also required running both power and data connections to the control panel and to separate power supplies.

IP-based door access technology does away with the control panel and specialized wiring entirely. The IP reader/controller simply hooks into the organization’s existing network using a standard Cat-5/6 Ethernet cable. These devices use Power over Ethernet (PoE), which means power is supplied by the network switch via the Ethernet cable, eliminating the need to hardwire into building power.

Source of Savings # 2 - Reduced Costs of Installation

Traditional door access control systems involve installing two separate devices –the reader and the controller – at each door, in addition to the costs of installing the control panels. Perhaps the biggest installation cost, however, is running two cables – power and data – to each door.

With IP-based readers, there is a single device to install at the door, and there is no need to run building power to the door. Since the IP reader and door electronic hardware are powered by the network through the Ethernet cabling, it only requires a connection to the nearest network PoE switch. An IP-based system, therefore, can eliminate as much as half the labor and materials costs for installation.

Source of Savings #3 – Ongoing Management of System Operations

Any door reader system has to have normal administrative maintenance – adding new people, removing people, grouping people, schedules for different groups. IP-based systems, by linking with other employee directories on the network, can speed and simplify the process of managing day-to-day changes.


Many organizations with more than 20 employees utilize Microsoft’s Active Directory as a central point/single source to manage employee contact data, locations and access to the network and applications. When an employee is hired, fired, changes location or changes job duties; his or her access is automatically changed accordingly, enhancing security by immediately reflecting access changes. IP-based door control systems can be designed to update access permissions in real-time as they occur in Active Directory.


Source of Savings #4 - Integration with Other Systems

IP-based access control systems allow the implementation of deeper, richer security systems, particularly through their integration with IP video systems and intercoms.

Until a few years ago, video management systems and access control systems were completely separate, often proprietary, and required separate wiring and installation, management software and multiple maintenance contracts. With an IP-based network device and software, it is much easier to integrate video management and access control systems – offering a “Best of Breed” approach to unified systems.


Source of Savings # 5 – Scalability

Finally there is the matter of scalability. IP systems are ideal for meeting changing needs as new card readers are added, offices are leased or built, and as there are mergers or acquisitions. Expanding the door access control system is as simple as installing the reader and hooking it into the network and, occasionally, installing an additional Ethernet switch.

Since IP systems can be installed anywhere there is a network connection, multiple buildings at the same or remote locations can be connected over a LAN or WAN and easily communicate to the central control software on a computer in one of the buildings.