Volume 49, Issue 2 - February 2014

NewsAnalysis: Hardware

Keyless Hardware, On the Rise, Requires Extra Consideration from Glaziers

It’s rare to buy a new car these days without an electronic sensor that makes the traditional key obsolete. Likewise, keyless entry products have been in vogue for residential use for several years. Now, designers of commercial buildings are finding that a glass storefront doesn’t mean sacrificing the ease and security of these hardware products for the stylish look of glass.

“Keyless entry as a whole has been growing exponentially each year since we have been in business,” says Trent Bamberry, who handles online marketing for GoKeyless, a Vandalia, Ohio-based distributor of these hardware systems. He claims, “We upgrade the hardware for glass storefront doors on an hourly basis across the United States.”

“Keyless entry products are being used in a wide variety of projects, including exterior storefront type projects typically supplied by the glass and glazing industry,” agrees James Lee, president of JLM Wholesale Inc. in Charlotte, N.C.

Larry Whipple, business development manager with the EMS and OEM Group of ASSA ABLOY, elaborates that these highly secure products are most popular in government and military office and installations, as well as public buildings such as schools, courthouses and universities.

Tom Colton, CSI, CDT, architectural hardware specialist for Los Angeles-based C.R. Laurence Co. Inc., says designers and contractors seem to turn increasingly to keyless exit buttons, magnetic locks and digital keypad systems for entrances that require heightened security for daily operations. “For example, more commercial settings including office buildings have begun using keyless magnetic locking systems at entrances and interior doors throughout the building to ultimately control employee and guest clearance levels,” he says.

Lee points out, “Keyless entry systems can fit most exterior and interior openings.” He goes on to add that these products are on the rise because keyless entry systems are more secure than the traditional key systems. “They offer more secure options for the building owner and can integrate with automated entry doors and video surveillance systems. In addition, many keyless systems include audit trail options giving the building owner the ability to monitor when an individual passed through an opening,” he says.

With the rising popularity of this product type, it’s inevitable that more glazing contractors will see the product in specs going forward. However, there are some things to keep in mind.

As Colton explains, “Keyless entry systems can provide improved security over traditional systems with biometric or electric access technology. However, they can be more complicated to install, where secondary trades such as electricians are needed to get the door up and running.” He explains that licensed electricians often may be required to convert the power supply to a lower voltage for the system to function properly. “This can incur additional costs for the glazing contractor and the project as a whole,” Colton says.

According to Lee, this type of coordination is typically the case only for larger systems with many openings. In such instances, he advises the glaziers to work with a systems integrator or security installer. “For smaller applications, typically two to 16 doors, there are many keyless entry systems available that most glaziers are fully capable of installing,” he says.

Colton points out that there are two basic types of keyless entry systems. “Fail secure configurations use the power source to only unlock the door. This means that the door will remain fully locked and secure during emergency situations including power outages. On the other hand, fail safe keyless entry systems operate by using power to lock the door. During power outages the door will become unlocked allowing for emergency egress. Designers and glazing contractors should pay careful attention to these features when selecting the best keyless entrance systems for their projects.”

Whipple notes that glaziers also need to be aware of the keyless product’s compatibility among the various hardware brands. In other words, “which electric strike works with which exit device, which works with which power supply, which works with which card reader, etc.,” he says.

—Megan Headley

© Copyright 2014 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.