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Mercury security access control hardware review

See why Mercury customers are switching to ACM and Openpath for their access control readers, boards, controllers, and software.

Openpath vs. Mercury access control

Mercury Security is a well-known access control hardware manufacturer. Acquired by HID Global in 2017, Mercury is most well-known for its controllers and boards. The Mercury Security access control OEM technology allows Mercury controller boards to be used for legacy and cloud-based security applications. When choosing a security provider, Mercury compatibility for access control is a key factor to consider, especially if your building already has Mercury boards already installed. This Mercury access control review covers the benefits and disadvantages of using Mercury controllers for your security, as well as the best options for Mercury board replacement and alternative solutions.

Quick look: Key differences between Mercury access control and Openpath
Complete access control solution

Mercury only has controllers, and does not offer any native software

Unlimited integrations

Integrating Mercury can be costly, and only supported with approved partners

Mobile credentials

Openpath is a mobile-first solution, and supports legacy keycards and fobs

Wi-Fi connectivity

Mercury controllers are unable to connect to Wi-Fi as a power supply

Standard wiring

Openpath and ACM hardware easily replaces Mercury controllers

On-premise and cloud-based

Openpath offers a full suite of cloud and on-site access solutions

Openpath’s reliable video access control
  • Multi-tech readers support mobile, PIN codes, key cards and fobs

  • Touchless and remote unlock backed by 99.9% reliability

  • Intuitive cloud software with real-time remote management

  • 5MP video and smart AI intercom with mobile monitoring

  • Open standards for frictionless integration across all systems

  • Scales to secure a single entry or entire enterprises with ease

  • Standard wiring and PoE options with easy snap-in installation

  • Automatic updates, offline sync, and encryption at every level

Comprehensive Mercury Security access control review

Mercury Security is a popular option for commercial access control customers, and is a well-established name in the industry. The Mercury boards feature wired or ethernet connectivity, and some models use OSDP for IP networks to make them compatible with a variety of systems. While Mercury Security access control is predominantly designed to work alongside HID access control solutions, many other providers offer some level of compatibility with Mercury controllers. This Mercury access control review breaks down the cost, hardware options, and alternative systems to help you determine if a Mercury board replacement or migration to cloud-based systems is right for your business.

Mercury Security access control price

While a common system for on-premises access needs, Mercury Security is often more expensive than other systems. While the up-front cost of Mercury access control panels is standard, there are additional fees that can add up over time. Wiring to Mercury boards may be costly in large buildings, and you’ll also need to consider the costs of wiring to third-party readers, unless you’re using the limited range of Mercury card readers available. While Mercury systems claim to be open, integration is limited to approved OEM partners, and can be costly depending on your providers and integrators. Plus, because Mercury does not offer any management software, you’ll need to invest in another provider for this service. 

Some of the factors to consider before investing in a Mercury access control system are: 

  • Any existing systems you want to integrate 

  • The number of workstations needed to manage your security 

  • Whether you want the ability to manage systems remotely 

  • Cost of Mercury board replacement if you need to switch providers

  • Long-term maintenance of the system, which requires in-person upgrades

Mercury hardware review

An important distinction to note about Mercury control panels is that some providers are not using authentic Mercury boards. Some providers use Mercury firmware, but manufacture their own boards. This often results in considerable customization work to support a third-party access control system, and can be very expensive in the long run. If you want the best experience with Mercury access control systems, look for authentic Mercury providers that have OEM hardware. However, many authentic OEM providers still do not support the full feature set of Mercury controllers and boards. 

Mercury controllers and boards

As a company that primarily manufactures access controllers and boards, the majority of  Mercury access control reviews focus on these products. There are a few different product lines of Mercury access control boards, designed with different connectivity options, outputs, and relays to support varying door densities. The full range of Mercury access control panels can support anywhere from one door up to 64 entries, with hard-wires and PoE+ enabled options, so organizations can select the right panel for their specific deployment. For example, the Mercury Intelligent Controller line features an on-board ethernet port to enable connection to cloud or server-based systems. 

There are also six Mercury access control board product lines that are no longer manufactured. If an organization is currently using any of these boards, most access control integrators will suggest a Mercury board replacement to upgrade to more advanced models to minimize security risks. 

Mercury card readers 

While there are some Mercury readers still available, there are better options from other access control providers in today’s market. Mercury card readers and keypad readers still rely on outdated PIN and swipe card technology, with no support for mobile credentials. Magnetic swipe cards and keypad readers often pose a security risk compared to more modern key card and fob technology.

For customers with current Mercury MR series readers, most security integrators will recommend replacing the Mercury reader with a more modern, future-proof option that employs advanced encryption. Openpath’s multi-technology Smart Readers, for example, support multiple secure access methods, with 99.9% unlock reliability for mobile credentials. In addition, Openpath offers more advanced, all-in-one reader models that include a built-in 5MP video camera and two-way intercom capabilities. Plus, with standard wiring, it’s easy for installers to replace Mercury card readers with the sleek, touchless Openpath readers.

Mercury access control software and management

Software is an important part of any access control system, as most of the day-to-day operations are conducted within the software client. Actions such as adding and removing users, adjusting permissions, setting door schedules, and auditing access activity should be easy and intuitive. Because Mercury only manufactures access control panels and controller boards, with a limited range of readers, organizations need to work with separate providers for readers and management software. Customers are limited to the approved OEM partners list for Mercury access control software if they want the best experience, otherwise they may experience issues with scaling their systems or unsupported features on a third-party software. Switching Mercury access control software providers usually requires a one-time fee and in-person firmware upgrade, which can be extremely expensive depending on the number of Mercury panels that need to be upgraded, and the chosen provider. 

Working with an approved OEM partner like ACM for Mercury access control software gives organizations the benefit of flexible, scalable management for on-premise systems. Ideal for high-security deployments already running on Mercury boards, a browser-based software like ACM offers unique features like alarm management, remote unlocking, and native integration into Avigilon video security systems. 

For multi-site organizations that want to centralize security management, a cloud-based solution is likely a better fit. By operating in the cloud, access control software like Openpath eliminate the need for a dedicated workstation or thick software clients, instead allowing administrators to easily access their entire management platform from any device, anywhere in the world. However, at the time of this Mercury access control review, there are only a few cloud-based software options available, and most of them still require going through an additional provider for readers and other access control hardware. For a complete cloud-based solution, a Mercury board replacement with a system like Openpath is likely the best option.

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Alternatives to Mercury Security access control

If you’re running an existing security system on Mercury access control panels, you have a few different options. To retain your investment, look for a system with Mercury compatibility for access control, such as ACM. Or, you have the option of doing a Mercury controller replacement to switch to a fully cloud-based access solution. 

Migrating an existing Mercury Security system to ACM 

Access Control Manager (ACM) is a good option for customers with an existing Mercury Security access control system that want additional flexibility and control. ACM is a Platinum Elite Mercury Partner, offering OEM Mercury controllers, interface modules and I/O boards as part of their access control solution. The appliance-based system is available in physical or virtual instances, giving you more options for how, when, and where to manage security across the property. 

Customers can use the browser-based ACM system from any mobile device, eliminating the need to constantly staff a client workstation or specific laptop. For video security customers using Avigilon and Mercury boards, access control through ACM offers seamless integration with ACC and various video management software. The ACM system is compatible with Mercury board and controller hardware, with options for PoE, PoE+, or RS-485 connectivity. 

Similar to LenelS2 access control, many Mercury access control reviews call out the expense and frustration with migrating to a new platform. However, ACM makes this process simple, without the high fees other legacy providers charge. You can retain your initial investment with ACM’s migration services, which allow users to upgrade to ACM without doing a full Mercury board replacement. A subcontractor performs a one-time migration of field hardware data from an onsite Mercury access control hardware-based system into ACM. 

Additional benefits of using ACM for your Mercury based access control system include: 

  • RESTful API for third-party device and system integrations, including custom integrations

  • Open-platform hardware to fit every need and prevent vendor lock-in for greater flexibility

  • Compatibility with HID readers, Farpointe Data readers, and wireless lock providers such as Allegion, ASSA ABLOY and SALTO

  • Included break-fix tech support

Openpath cloud-based access control solutions

If an on-premises managed system is not the right fit, a cloud-based option may be a good replacement for Mercury access control. As a leading global provider and manufacturer based in the US, Openpath empowers businesses with a mobile-first and fully cloud-based access control system. Built on open standards, Openpath is designed to seamlessly integrate with both existing systems and future tools. The growing app ecosystem features 40+ leading technology companies.

Ideal for new deployments that want the most advanced, future-proof technology, Openpath gives organizations greater control and flexibility, without sacrificing security. One of the top benefits of the Openpath solution is the ability to roll out new features and system updates instantly over the cloud, so there’s no need to schedule an appointment with an integrator or disrupt operations with system downtime.

For companies looking to do a Mercury controller replacement, a certified Openpath installer will swap out the Mercury board for one of Openpath’s controller panels, which securely make all access decisions. Choose from the compact, all-in-one Single Door Controller for small and add-on deployments, or opt for 4- and 8-door controllers for larger setups. Expansion boards allow you to also add access control to elevators, turnstiles, parking gates, and more. Openpath also offers a full line of sleek, award-winning Smart Readers, which support touchless access and mobile credentials, as well as encrypted MIFARE DESFire key cards and fobs. Openpath multi-technology readers also support existing legacy credentials that are commonly used with Mercury access control.