Electronic Access Control Systems

The pros and cons of traditional keys vs. a passcard system

During the week, most churches are practically empty—occupied during working hours by only a handful of church employees. When church workers come and go throughout the day, and after they leave at night, how do they secure the building? Although some churches prefer using traditional locks and keys, electronic access control systems offer many advantages. Consider both options:

The Benefits of Lock-and-Key Systems

Many churches love the simplicity of traditional keys. Upfront, they are less expensive than sophisticated electronic access systems, which require expensive card readers and passcards. Installing deadbolts on two doors can cost less than $100, while costs for a two-door card reader set can start at $1,000 and go up from there.

Traditional keys rarely malfunction, and no technical experience is required to operate a lock and key. With electronic access control systems, a malfunction or power outage can keep employees standing out in the elements with no way of repairing the system on their own. 

Magnets affect some types of passcards, rendering them unusable–something that doesn't happen to traditional keys.

The Benefits of Electronic Access Control Systems

Though passcard systems are far from perfect, they provide many benefits to the churches that use them. The computers within passcard systems not only provide increased security by making lock picking impossible, but they also provide better entry control to church administration.

By individually encoding employees' passcards, administrators can control when and where people enter the building. If a plumber needs to look at the baptismal pipes, but is only available during a scheduled staff meeting, he can be given a passcard that allows him to enter at only one door, and only between certain hours. If he had a traditional key, the plumber could enter the building at any time of the day or night—without anyone's knowledge. 

Electronic access control systems also benefit churches by recording who entered the building at what time. When a passcard unlocks a door, the computer tracks which employee's card was used. Because of this, passcard systems track comings and goings in a way that traditional key entry systems could never do.

Another benefit of electronic access control systems is the programmability of passcards. If a church employee misplaces a passcard or has it stolen, church administrators can deactivate it—making the card useless to thieves and vandals. If a traditional key is stolen, preventing unwanted access can only be achieved by changing all of the building's locks—an expense that could add up if it happens multiple times.

When the time comes to update your church's security system, or it becomes necessary to change your building's locks, consider installing an electronic access control system. Although traditional locks and keys have some benefits, the security advantage that passcard systems offer to churches may make the extra expense of an electronic access control system worthwhile.