Access control systems: Which ones are there and which ones to choose?

November 10, 2016

There are different types of systems and we must know them perfectly if we want to give the best advice to the end-user. We can distinguish between access control systems according to the technology they use for their management or by the type of identification they employ. Every technology has its characteristics and advantages. It is important to know which solutions are available and choose the system that best suits our client’s needs.

Among the access control systems you can find stand-alone or independent systems, which control a single door; distributed systems, which manage multiple doors from a single point without the readers being connected between them; and centralised systems, which are able to control advanced functions, multiple access points and thousands of users.

Stand-alone systems

Do we only require a reader to open a single door? In this case, the standalone or autonomous system would be the perfect choice. This type of system lets you carry out a basic access control. It is simple to install and manage.

“An stand-alone system will allow us to carry out a basic access control. This system works for a single door and it’s easy to install and manage”


Thanks to an autonomous access control, we can grant entry to users through the reader itself. In some cases, we can also connect the reader to a computer, enabling to manage the list of users and obtain a basic activity log.

Distributed systems

A distributed system serves to control multiple doors from a single point, which are not connected one to another. The radiofrequency technology (RF) communicates with the various access points through controllers with a range of up to 100 metres.

“With a distributed system, we can control multiple doors from a single point, without them being connected to one another.”


This type of system is highly recommended for medium-sized residential developments or businesses which require multiple controllers in different locations. A distributed system allows up to 32 access points and 1.000 users. The distributed access control system is a practical and intuitive system offering the possibility to enforce changes in access rights from the same point. It does not require a remote connection or being physically in the installation to perform any changes into the system. Distributed systems become a complete solution for garage entrances, facilities with multiple entrances as for example industrial or commercial facilities, and for access control systems with long distanced that do not allow to install any wiring.



Centralised systems

If we wish to connect multiple access points, we will require a centralised system. This system allows to manage large and medium-sized commercial, industrial or residential developments. The readers are connected through a single or multiple central units, which stores all the information related to the access control. 

'“The centralised system allows us to connect multiple accesses through a central unit, receive the activity log information and integrate additional services.”


Centralised access control systems are scalable. They allow end-users to get the most of an access control system. Some of the benefits of centralised technologies are, among others, that we can create different user profiles for different access points, alongside being able to see the activity log of employees and control the security of users. Thanks to centralised systems it is also possible to integrate additional security services as alarms and automatisms. We can also take advantage of the advanced functions of centralised systems to control the capacity of certain spaces and locate individuals.


“A system is not better than other. We must evaluate which system is suitable for each location.”


In this article, we have seen that we can coordinate the functioning of our access control installation in different ways. A system is not better than other. We must evaluate individually each case and find the best system for the needs of the end-user. A stand-alone or independent system will perform a great job in a simple one door installation. In case we need to bring more advanced functions to the facilities we should consider a distributed or a centralized system. Do you want to expand your knowledge about access control systems? Download now our new guide of access control for installers for a complete introduction.


Access Control Guide for Installers