Keypads and Card Readers

Electronic Keypads and Card Readers have become popular means in access control. Keypads require a numeric password to unlock doors, while card readers will unlock doors with the appropriate card.


There are many different keypads, each with their own set of advantages, to choose from. When you look for a keypad for your place of business, think about which features can benefit your business. Below is a list of some of the attractive features available in the keypad world.

  • Programmable
  • Remote management
  • Interact with electric or magnetic locks, the security system, elevator controls, gate controls, and more
  • Multiple or unlimited access levels (authority codes) such as – master, managers, supervisors, groups, individual users, service people, events and emergency codes
  • Anywhere from 2 to thousands of user codes
  • Programmable for hundreds of scheduled events
  • Can control multiple doors per site and multiple sites
  • Programmable entry time to re-lock allowance
  • Individual’s, group’s or all user codes can be temporarily disabled or permanently locked out
  • Programmable to locks out users after a certain number of failed code attempts
  • Generate Management reports. Some will generate as many as 40,000 audit trail transactions and access events
  • A 4 to 6 digits long combination will offer 10 thousand to a million combination possibilities
  • Weatherproof for outside use.
  • Encrypted.
  • Keyless or with keys.
  • Fire rated.


Like the keypads, the card reader controls who enters your property. It reads the credentials stored on the keycard (which is like the credit card in structure and function) of the person requesting entrance and determines if he is authorized to enter. If the electronic reader recognizes the credentials it mechanically disengages the lock on the door, gate or whatever barrier prevents entrance.

There are a variety of reader types that read the corresponding key cards. The magnetic stripe reader, the barcode reader, the proximity reader, the smart card reader and the biometric reader are the common ones in use today. Many electronic access control locks use Wiegand technology to connect the card swipe mechanism to the rest of the electronic entry system. Newer systems use radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology.

Keycards are frequently used in hotels and large corporations with many employees. When readers are part of a central system, this system controls which doors are opened by which card at what times of the day or night. Like with key pads, logs are often kept of the access control activity at each reader. When there is no central system, the key card works much like a standard key.

Below are some descriptions of the card readers available.

  • The magnetic stripe reader uses a sensor that reads the magnetic oxide stripe laminated to the back of the card. The information is compared to the information stored in the reader or on a remote system. Some readers include a key cylinder lock in case of power failure. This card is inexpensive to produce, holds more information than a bar code and is easy to program. However, they tend to wear, be misread, and the data can be stolen by devices made for that purpose.
  • The barcode reader reads barcodes, each made up of a series of alternating dark and light, thin and wide stripes that are read by an optical scanner. Their organization is determined by the barcode protocol selected. This technology is also inexpensive, and credentials are easy to generate and print on cards or other items. However, it’s simplicity also makes it very susceptible to fraud.
  • The RFID proximity card reader radiates an electric field around itself that picks up the code on the card that comes into its proximity. Each card has a facility code and a user code, like your bank checks have. The card cannot be erased and can be read even when in the user’s pocket or purse. However, since there is no centralized system that controls the numbers, it is not impossible for different companies to have the same codes. Consequently, manufacturers have created their own formats that they control and issue.
  • The smart card reader has an embedded read/write microprocessor and memory chip and, like a computer, can do what it’s programmed to do. Thus, it can do more than access control. The smart card used for access control is contactless, using radio technology with a higher frequency than the proximity card. Consequently, it transfers more data, reads cards that are in the user’s pocket or purse, and can read several cards at ones. Criminals can tamper with the readers when they are manufactured or before they are delivered and harvest information from them after they are in use.
  • The Biometric reader recognizes and identifies an individual’s fingerprints, hand, iris, voice and face by comparing them to stored ID templates. Some readers can store 50,000 ID templates. Other readers refer the biometric ID to templates stored at a central server. If the person is found in the memory bank, his or her identity is assessed for access level. Based on the permissions for that level, the door hardware either unlocks or remains locked. These readers eliminate the need for cards (which can be stolen, lost or barrowed), or for remembering PIN numbers. However, to expedite the process, most biometric readers work together with cards or pins, to skip the ID search (most searches process 2,000 to 3,000 matches per second) and go directly to the comparison. Since most smart cards have plenty of memory, they can be used to store biometric ID templates as well.

Technology has come a long way in access control so that corporations can pick and choose among the thousands of people who come to their premises, who may enter, where they may enter and when.

If you have questions about a possible access control system for your premises and your premises happen to be in the Denver metropolitan area, why not give us a call at 303-408-2702, or EMAILus. You can also ask for a free estimate using the Get Free Estimate form at the right of the slider at the top of this page. we have earned a continuous A+ rating with the Denver Metropolitan Better Business Bureau.


Automatic Door Doctors is a commercial door company, based in the Denver Metropolitan area, that repairs and installs automatic and manual doors.

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