Guide to commercial access control and door lock systems

Trusted by

Featured in


Commercial access control overview

Before getting into how a commercial door entry system works and choosing commercial door locks for your space, it’s important to look at why commercial access control systems are so important. When it comes to commercial security, access control systems are vital to determining who can get inside the building and when, but the technology is continually evolving to improve asset protection and mitigate security risks. Today, commercial door access control systems come equipped with more than just a lock and key. In addition to keeping doors secure, today’s top commercial access control systems also track who’s coming and going, which doors are being unlocked, and offer advanced security features including remote access, touchless entry for commercial doors, and native occupancy tracking. The capabilities of a commercial door access control system, however, also depends on the type of commercial door locks installed in the building.

Even the most advanced commercial door lock systems still require two basic components that you’re probably very familiar with: a lock and a key. An essential part of any office door security system, commercial door locks are a trusted method of access control for any size business. But how those business door locks work makes all the difference when it comes to building security. When comparing a more traditional commercial door lock system to newer models like a commercial smart door lock or commercial keyless door locks, it’s important to understand the basics of the technology, and know what the benefits and disadvantages are before depending on them as your main security system for office door and building access control.

Components of a commercial access control system

  • Control panel - Think of this device as the brains of commercial building access control systems, securely making all entry decisions. The control panel is usually installed in an IT closet or server room, and stores all the programmed credential and user information. 

  • Door readers - In order for the system to know who has access and who doesn’t, commercial door access control systems need a reader installed near the lock. This device scans user’s key cards, fobs, or mobile devices, and sends that information back to the control panel to verify access.

  • Credentials - Traditionally, credentials were just a metal key. However, today’s commercial door security systems can support swipe cards, RFID key cards and fobs, mobile apps, and even smart watch credentials to open electronic door locks for business. 

  • Unlocking mechanism -This component of a commercial building access control system is often overlooked. Once the system authorizes and authenticates a user, the system needs to communicate to the door to release the lock. Door release mechanisms are different depending on whether the door has a magnetic lock, electric lock strike, or uses a smart commercial door lock. No matter what type of door release is installed, it needs to be both secure and reliable.

  • Management software - Once the hardware is installed, all entries, users, and permissions can be managed via the access control software. Depending on the provider, the software might be server-based and run on the local network, or managed in the cloud. Cloud-based systems offer the added benefit of remote operation, so security teams can actively monitor and control the commercial door security systems from anywhere, on any device.

Openpath commercial access control systems

  • Convenient and touchless with reliable mobile credentials

  • Secure PIN-based access control for commercial buildings

  • Flexible access support for any authorized door lock

  • Cloud management software with real-time data

  • Remote door unlock and lockdown capabilities  

  • All-in-one readers with video and intercom capabilities

  • Open API for seamless software and system integration

  • Easy to install and compatible with third-party access systems

What is a commercial door lock?

A commercial door lock system may look similar to the locks you see in a home or apartment building, but the strength and functionality is what sets business door locks apart. Before getting into how these locks work in a commercial security system, you have to first differentiate between which ones are rated for the heavy use and protection needed in an office or commercial setting. There are three grades for commercial door locks:

  • Grade 3 locks are standard issue locks, commonly used inside homes or for interior office doors. While Grade 3 commercial door locks are available, they are not recommended for use on exterior doors, or for spaces that need high security commercial door locks.

  • Grade 2 commercial door locks are used in areas that have more traffic and need better security, like an office building or lobby area. They are more durable than Grade 3 locking mechanisms, which make them a common option for commercial spaces. 

  • Grade 1 is the strongest of the commercial door lock types, and gives the best security with the longest lifespan. Often used in high-security areas such as hospitals, schools, and museums. Grade 1 commercial door locks stand up to heavy use, are made with durable materials, and are harder to breach. 

A commercial door lock system grade is determined by looking at the durability of the components such as the commercial door strike plate, lock cylinder, deadbolts or latches, plus the handles, levers, buttons, or knobs. The grade is also measured by the strength of the locking mechanisms, and how well the system holds up over time. It’s important to note that different types of buildings and areas have specific compliance requirements for commercial security door locks and business smart locks. Ask a professional office smart lock installer to ensure the locks you want comply with local regulations.

Commercial access control systems vs. Commercial smart door locks

Choosing the right combination of access control and commercial security door locks will ensure the safety, security, and productivity of the building. But how do you know which commercial door security systems you need? 

A commercial building access control system is used to control a large number of doors, buildings, and users. It’s best for large commercial properties and enterprise businesses managing hundreds or thousands of daily users, but is equally important in managing security for smaller offices and retail spaces. Commercial door access control systems are typically found on exterior doors and main entrances, and can also be installed on interior doors, and to limit access for turnstiles, parking garages, and elevators. These types of systems are managed via a centralized workstation or cloud-based software dashboard, where security teams can view access activity across all doors, update permissions, and issue new credentials. With a cloud system, security managers also benefit from remote access to all data and controls.

In contrast, commercial security door locks are designed primarily for interior doors and entrances. The most popular type of electronic door locks for business are smart locks, as they have advanced features that offer improved security. Many businesses opt to add a smart lock for office doors because they are less expensive than installing a full access security system. One of the key differences between a smart lock and a commercial building access control system is that commercial security door locks can be part of the access control network. As a standalone device, a smart lock for businesses can be installed on just one door, or on many. However, software for each of these devices will need to be installed manually, and managing a large number of smart commercial door locks may prove cumbersome without an access control network. 

A good commercial door lock security system will take into account the number of users that need access, the number of doors requiring a smart lock, and management preferences.

Smart lock feature comparison
Smart locks
Access control systems
Standalone device

Best for exterior doors

Works for interior doors

Centralized management software

Supports multiple access methods

Unlimited users

Real-time reporting and alerts

Remote unlock


Commercial door lock types to know

Having the right business door locks is essential to building security. While it’s clear that businesses should install Grade 1 or Grade 2 commercial door locks, there are additional factors to consider when choosing the best office door lock system. A security system for office door applications should take into account the amount of wear and tear on the locking system, and whether a manual door lock or a commercial electric door lock system is a better fit. 

Cylindrical lever locks

This type of commercial door lock is best used for interior doors that won’t require heavy security. Quick to install, cylindrical lever locks feature a handle on both sides of the door, with a small cylinder inside the body of the locking mechanism. This office door lock system comes in a range of styles to fit different aesthetics, but often lacks the functionality for more advanced security features, such as remote door unlock and keyless door entry. This means that if you have employee turnover or someone loses their key, you’ll likely have to retool all the door locks and reissue keys in order to maintain security. Some cylindrical lever locks have an easily replaced core, while others will require the entire mechanism to be replaced.

Mortise locks 

Very common in commercial applications, mortise locks are resistant to forced entry. Mortise locks have a commercial door strike plate with the deadbolt located inside the body of the lock, making it harder to breach the lock without a key. This heavy-duty commercial door lock is very durable and is adaptable for different industries and use cases, but the large body and cylinder mean they require a large pocket inside the door in order to install. Always have professional commercial door lock system experts and security integrators install mortise locks.

Deadbolt locks 

Deadbolt locks are usually used in conjunction with other commercial door lock types. They are easy to install on most doors, and add an extra layer of protection. While manual unlock is most common with deadbolts, there are commercial magnetic door lock systems and automatic door lock systems for businesses that have remote and keyless deadbolt options.

Electronic locks and smart locks

Commercial electronic door locks are a more advanced type of locking technology, with a wide range of features and capabilities to keep offices and buildings secure. An increasingly common option for their flexibility and convenience, commercial electronic door lock types include commercial electromagnetic door locks, commercial keyless door locks, and commercial keypad door lock systems. The main differentiator between these and more traditional systems is that commercial electronic door locks eliminate the need to issue keys, instead using a PIN code, swipe card, or mobile credential to unlock the door. Commercial magnetic door lock systems need to be installed by a professional, and can work in conjunction with a separate proximity card reader, keypad, or commercial RFID card reader. With a greater range of access methods and technology, business smart locks are increasingly popular. There are many manufactures for office smart lock systems to choose from, so businesses can easily find a lock that fits their needs.

Door locks with video surveillance

Having the best access control readers is an essential part of a good commercial smart lock door system. Most smart commercial door locks don’t come with a built-in camera, but by pairing smart locks with advanced access control and video surveillance, you can enhance security with visual verification. For example, Openpath’s Video Reader Pro and Video Intercom Reader Pro feature a 5MP camera built into the door reader, which can work alongside any authorized door lock for a fast, reliable unlocking experience. This technology is especially important for high security commercial door locks where regular auditing and strong surveillance are needed to ensure maximum protection, as well as on exterior and lobby entrances where there is no 24/7 onsite staff.

Go to Top / Have questions?

How commercial electronic door locks and smart locks work

Compared to traditional door locks, a commercial electronic door lock system uses wired or wireless power supply to lock and unlock the door. Commercial magnetic door lock systems use a low-voltage power source to keep the door locked. To disable the lock and open the door, a user must present an authorized credential. In a commercial key fob door lock system, for example, the key fob sends a signal to the locking mechanism, which, when authorized, triggers the door to unlock. The commercial magnetic door locks are configured using a commercial real estate security management system.

Commercial smart locks are electromechanical locks, which perform the locking and unlocking mechanisms based on signals received from wireless protocol and cryptographic keys. Usually Wi-Fi or Bluetooth enabled, commercial smart locks have the added benefit of being able to use virtual keys. Instead of a physical credential, keyless commercial door smart locks can be opened via a mobile phone app or Cloud Key credential. Another benefit of smart security door locks for business is being able to easily give access to visitors. Instead of having to give out a key, a smart lock for commercial doors can be programmed to allow temporary guest access with a digital credential, or operated remotely. For example, a security manager can easily trigger the office smart lock to let maintenance or a vendor into the building, even if they aren’t onsite.

Because commercial electronic lock systems rely on the Internet and Bluetooth to function, they also should have built in fail-safe or fail-secure technology in the event of a power outage. With a fail-secure commercial door lock, the door stays locked if there is a power outage, while fail-safe commercial door locks will unlock to let anyone in. As a best practice, commercial smart locks should include a backup battery so that you retain full functionality to lock or unlock the door as needed if the system loses power. If your system does not have backup battery power, you may want to pair any electronic commercial door strike plate locks with a manual lock.

Go to Top / Have questions?

Electronic commercial door lock types

There are many different types of commercial door smart locks available for business security systems. Similar to residential smart locks, commercial smart door locks have additional flexibility for keyless entry, plus the ability to manage the security system remotely. One of the main differences in a commercial smart door lock system, however, is that they are designed for up to thousands of users, and often have additional security measures to protect large, commercial spaces. These more technologically advanced business door locks have the potential to dramatically increase the safety and security of the office. 

Commercial keypad door locks and combination locks 

Commercial keypad door locks require users to type in a code on a keypad to unlock the door. These types of business door locks can be configured with one PIN code for all users, or unique PIN codes for each individual user, making them a popular choice for buildings that want heightened security. Commercial keypad door locks are sometimes used in combination with a keyed entry or deadbolt.

Commercial keyless door locks 

Keyless entry is an increasingly popular option for commercial smart door lock systems. One of the main benefits of commercial keyless door locks is that users don’t need to have a physical key to unlock the door. With a commercial RFID door lock, keyless entry can use encrypted key cards, key fobs, or mobile credentials in place of a physical key. Some commercial keyless door locks also support touchless entry for doors with features like Openpath’s Wave to Unlock method. Another advantage of commercial keyless door locks is that if someone loses their credential, or an employee leaves the company, you don’t need to retool all the locks. Revoking access is as easy as a click of a button, and the changes are instantaneous.

Remote door locks for business

One of the benefits of using a commercial keyless door lock system like Openpath is the remote door lock commercial properties can use. Because the commercial smart door lock system is connected to the Internet, everything can be managed remotely. The remote door lock for business lets teams monitor and respond to security issues from anywhere, with the ability to unlock or lock the door in real-time with a single click.

Automatic door lock systems

This type of technology is a great security system for office door and multi-tenant building deployments, with a few different use cases. When integrated with access control and proximity readers, automatic door lock systems for business settings can ensure doors are always locked after-hours. Additionally, automatic door lock systems can be connected to alarm systems and panic bar door locks to ensure building security during an emergency, with the ability to remotely unlock the door for first responders.

Biometric door locks 

High-security areas sometimes need an additional layer of protection. Spaces that house expensive equipment, sensitive information, intellectual property, or protected substances, such as in a hospital, financial building, or laboratory, may choose to install commercial biometric door locks. When considering biometric door locks, commercial buildings can choose from a variety of fingerprint scanners, facial recognition technology, and retina scans. If an additional reader is not feasible, many mobile access control systems also support two-factor authentication with biometric identification, via FaceID, fingerprint scan, or personal passcode.

Video reader door locks

As the highest standard for security, commercial keyless door locks paired with a video reader combine access control capabilities with the power of video surveillance, right at the door. Having visual verification of all access events from the vantage point of where security incidents most often occur, security teams and property managers can make informed decisions and respond faster to security incidents. While video surveillance cameras can be installed for a similar purpose, pairing a video reader or business video intercom with electronic door locks and smart locks gives you all-in-one functionality, which is both a better user experience and a smarter investment for your business.

Go to Top / Have questions?

Benefits of wireless commercial locks

  • Add security to internal doors like private offices, conference rooms, multi-family unit doors, storage closets, or IT and server rooms

  • Easily install battery-powered Allegion’s Schlage® NDEB and LEB wireless locks, and Control™ Smart Locks on any interior door

  • Use Openpath credentials for fast, reliable Rapid Unlock and Bluetooth capabilities

  • Effortlessly configure any number of doors with intuitive cloud-based management

  • Unlock doors in the building with a single mobile credential or key fob

  • Remotely unlock doors and manage access in the cloud

Average cost of a commercial door lock system 

The cost of a business door lock system varies widely, depending on the commercial door lock types installed, how many doors need to be secured, and the number of authorized users that will need a key. In addition, which technology you choose will greatly affect the average cost per door of your commercial lock system.

  • Manual keys: Replacing physical keys can run you anywhere from $2 up to $70 depending on the type of key and if there is any coding embedded in it. The price of manual door locks starts at around $100 per door, making it the least expensive option. However, manual door locks lack all functionality and security features of automatic, remote, and commercial keyless door locks and smart locks. 

  • Key card or key fob locks: This RFID or proximity-based system requires each user to have a card or key fob to gain entry, so it does not eliminate the cost of issuing and replacing credentials. Depending on the security of the key cards and fobs, and the type of commercial readers installed, this commercial keyless door lock solution generally costs $1,500-2,500 per door.

  • Commercial keypad door locks: One of the cost savings associated with commercial keypad door locks is that users don’t need individual credentials. These commercial entry systems range from $400 to over $1,500 per door after factoring in the hardware, any wiring adjustments, installation, and maintenance.

  • Biometric door locks: Commercial biometric readers will usually cost upwards of $2,000 per door, making them a more expensive office door lock system. However, biometric high security commercial door locks are a great way to add an additional layer of protection to a facility. If biometric access control is vital to your security, you may find cost savings by using a commercial keyless system with biometric two-factor authentication through a smartphone. A mobile access control system like Openpath can be configured to require a facial ID or fingerprint scan on the user’s smartphone prior to unlocking the door.

  • Commercial smart door locks: The most flexible and favored of the commercial door lock types, smart locks for business not only eliminate the cost of credentials (users just need their phone), they also offer greater flexibility and savings over time. Commercial smart lock systems are available in standalone devices, and as part of a larger building access control system. Depending on the features of your system, the average cost for commercial smart door locks averages from $600 to $1,200 per door for the reader hardware, installation, and configuration.

While hardware is often a one-time cost of a commercial access control system, it’s not the only component that will affect the price of your system. Legacy commercial access control systems will also require software purchases and licensing, in addition to on-site server management. In terms of cost, a cloud-managed commercial access control system will often cost less, eliminating expensive maintenance in favor of an annual subscription fee. Before budgeting for a new commercial door access control system, speak with a professional access control installer about the type of hardware and software that will best fit your needs.

Go to Top / Have questions?

Benefits of a commercial keyless door lock system

There are quite a few reasons businesses are opting to go keyless with their commercial access control systems. Though commercial smart door locks and keyless door locks are more expensive up front, there are many benefits that make them the preferred choice as the security system for office doors. With keyless and touchless entry for commercial doors, businesses can make getting into the building more convenient and more secure, while also improving ROI across the entire organization.

Improved security: Commercial keyless door locks and smart locks allow more advanced access control methods, such as encrypted cards, fobs, and mobile credentials. Whereas a key can be used by anyone, commercial keyless door locks can add an additional layer of protection thanks to credentials that require two-factor authentication, and additional identity verification at the door. In addition, automatic door lock systems for business settings mean less manual labor in ensuring the doors are locked, with set schedules and instant locking capabilities.

Remote door unlock for business: The ability to control doors from anywhere is a huge advantage when it comes to commercial building security. Having access to a remote door lock, commercial property owners can monitor all their buildings from a single interface, and easily unlock the door for after-hour maintenance, employees who are locked out, or third-party vendors. With real-time visibility, remote door lock for business also speeds issue response time, which in turn improves ROI.

Trackable entry activity: With a traditional lock and key, you can’t see who unlocked the door and when. Electronic and commercial keyless door lock systems that are connected to a commercial access control system will log all access activity. This is helpful for compliance and auditing purposes, as well as helps businesses optimize their security based on visitation patterns. Commercial door entry systems with detailed reporting make it easier to respond to security breaches, and helps teams identify potential risks before it’s too late.

Automatic alerts: With a security system for office doors like Openpath that tracks all entries and attempts in real-time, you also have the ability to set automatic alerts for certain types of activity, such as a door left ajar or a forced entry. Paired with an automatic door lock system for business, these alerts can help security teams mitigate security issues as they happen, and minimize risk by activating a building lockdown.

Sync with video surveillance: Open-platform commercial security systems can easily integrate with video surveillance systems to add visual verification to your security. When somebody attempts to unlock a commercial door lock, security administrators can check the cameras to see if the person accessing the space matches the name on the credential. A fully integrated commercial smart door lock system and video management platform allows teams to view all of this information in one dashboard, too.

Future-proof technology: As needs shift, commercial keyless door lock systems can be easily updated with new features via software updates, rather than ripping and replacing locks on every door. For example, touchless entry for commercial doors wasn’t a necessity even a few years ago. However, it’s now a must-have for commercial access control systems, and many providers are unable to support touchless entry without replacing the hardware. Future-proof commercial door entry systems that operate in the cloud are able to roll out new features and updates instantly, avoiding costly maintenance or hardware updates. When it comes to ROI, having future-proof commercial smart locks also makes it easy to adapt and integrate with other security platforms, powering automated processes across your entire business to reduce overhead costs and streamline operations.

Go to Top / Have questions?

Upgrading to commercial keyless door locks with Openpath

Openpath is a leading provider of mobile and keyless commercial security access control systems for business. Built on an open-architecture platform, Openpath gives businesses the ability to easily integrate their commercial keyless door locks with other security systems for business, including automatic door opener hardware, alarm systems, and security software. Openpath’s easy-to-use mobile credentials enable completely touchless entry for commercial doors, helping to make offices safer and more convenient. For businesses with multiple locations and buildings, Openpath offers scalable commercial access control solutions that are also backwards compatible with legacy systems. Plus, the flexible hardware and software are also designed to support touchless elevators, turnstiles, parking garages, and commercial gate access control systems. Talk to our team of access control and security experts to get answers to all your commercial door lock questions, and a personalized quote for your business door lock system.

Go to Top / Have questions?