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Jan 18 2016

WWYD? “Future” Access Control System

Category: Electrified Hardware,WWYD?Lori @ 2:09 am Comments (16)

ElectricianLast week I got an email from an architect working on a renovation project at a college.  Part of an existing classroom building is being converted into a new administration area, and the project scope includes preparation for an access control system that will be designed later.  The electrified hardware was included in the current project, but the access control readers have not yet been added and the system is not powered up.

When the owner did a walk-through, there was no visible evidence of electrified hardware because electrified locksets and thru-wire hinges were used on most of the doors that would receive access control readers in the future.  Even if an architect, contractor, or owner could decipher a hardware submittal and see where electrified hardware should have been installed, how can they verify whether the electrified hardware is actually in place?

On many occasions I have provided a list of door openings and the associated electrified hardware so nobody had to slog through the hardware specification to find the doors that needed wires.  I usually provided this for coordination with the security consultant or security integrator, but I have also worked on projects where the access control system wouldn’t be powered up until later.

One of these projects was a complicated system for a university in the Northeast, and in the many hours that I spent at the jobsite working with the owner, architect, and security integrator, NOBODY ever told me that the access control system would not be installed until months later.  The first indication of a problem came when the owner called to say that the classroom building couldn’t be left unlocked for students and staff to enter – the doors had pull handles, and a key had to be used to retract the latches each time someone wanted to enter (oops).  I had specified electric latch retraction panic hardware which requires power to hold the latches retracted.  I hadn’t included a way to hold the latches retracted manually, because it’s generally not a good idea to override the access control system with manual dogging.

Has this ever happened to you?  WWYD?  When you are specifying or supplying electrified hardware for a “future” access control system, are there any special considerations?  How do you prove that the electrified hardware is actually in place if it is not yet powered?

Photo: Dmitry Kalinovsky/

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16 Responses to “WWYD? “Future” Access Control System”

  1. Jack Ostergaard says:

    Not quite the same problem but we had a bank of three doors one of which had access control. These doors were to be dogged open during the passing hours when school opened and closed. We specd NL devices with cylinder dogging (CD) for two doors and an ELxNL for the door with access control. We assumed (there’s THAT word) that a CD function would be provided on the ELxNL device. But no! We didn’t spec Special Dogging (SD) that is required for an EL device. And of course it wasn’t pointed out until the one door couldn’t be dogged. Another mistake/learning moment that we will never make again.

    • Lori says:

      Why didn’t they just have a push button to dog the EL device? Or better yet, put EL’s on all 3 doors so they don’t accidentally get left unlocked? I know they’re more expensive that way but it was not uncommon at our old elementary school for the custodians to forget to undog the devices after the students were inside.

      – Lori

  2. Joseph Prosser says:

    Great topic, Lori.

    We’ve ran into a number of situations like this over the years. We had one architect who we worked with to design custom strike filler plates that could be used in lieu of an electric strike (say a Von Duprin 6211) until the owner was ready to implement access controls. The filler plate allowed installation of the lock strike over the top.

    In regards to the questions, “When you are specifying or supplying electrified hardware for a “future” access control system, are there any special considerations? How do you prove that the electrified hardware is actually in place if it is not yet powered?” I’d say that the as-built shop drawings should be a good guide. If the plans match the shop drawings (door numbers, installed hardware, etc.), it would be pretty easy to find which doors have electrified hardware installed. In fact, our scheduling program allow for sorting of doors based on any hardware item or pretty much any other parameter used to create the schedule. If necessary, a special comment code might be used to indicate “future access control door”, which could then be used to sort by just those doors, which could be supplied to the end user for future use.

    “Proving” that the hardware is in place I suppose is left to trust that the schedule is correct and the material was installed as scheduled. Aside from inspecting the hardware (removing something from the door), I don’t see how anyone could be 100% sure that a hardware item has concealed wires coming out of it.

    • Lori says:

      Thanks Joe! I told the architect the same thing (about removing part of the hardware to look for wires), but I thought maybe there was some other way to tell.

      – Lori

  3. Jim Elder says:

    Done this a number of times. I would also not restrict the electrical controls/monitoring to just the doors with card readers. If the object is to control perimeter controls for example, you should do something at all doors into the space, whether simple monitoring or card controlled entry.
    1. Put in the electrical hardware now if they are less than a year away. Otherwise, make sure the hardware can be retro fitted with upgrade kits.

    2. Prep the doors and frames for electrical hardware (Lori, about how much does this cost per door?).

    3. Provide a wireway to an accessible location and terminate in some kind of junction box. This may or may not mean metal raceway depending upon the door. Just make sure there is a path.

    4. I personally like powering door hardware from a central location for many reasons. If you want to power hardware AT THE DOOR, then put in an Emergency Receptacle NOW.

    5. Provide wall space and common aggregating ductwork or raceways in local IDF closets. If the security system in the building is large, then the IDF room should be segregated with a separate space for central security hardware. Dont forget to add the doors into the MDF and IDF rooms in your security plan.

    6. Provide emergency electrical circuits in the IDF/MDF spaces for powering central system items (including network switches, lock power, access panels, etc). At a minimum I would suggest 3 circuits.

    7. Make sure to size the generator for the security system. Most EP is sized just to support emergency-equipment.

    8. Ensure availability of wireways to related systems that will be connected to the security systems (i.e. network, fire alarm, Emergency notification, etc) .

    9. Make sure to have electrical/communications drawings and hardware schedules accurately portray what has been done so your integrator has a record of what he does not have to supply.


    Hire a good INDEPENDENT consultant!!

    • Lori says:

      Thanks for your insight, Jim! The cost of prepping the door and frame varies, but it is MUCH less expensive than prepping them in the field.

      – Lori

      • Bob Caron says:

        We had a recent renovation job for a bank and they specified electric mortise lock for possible future use. In this case, the “future use” was very uncertain and they didn’t want to pay for hardware that might not get used, so we ended up just prepping for electric hinges and a raceway in the door but installed non-electrified hardware. It was a small job with no hardware schedule, so unless someone there remembers that the door and frame are ready, they won’t discover that until they investigate changing it to an electric operation. We need some official Lori Greene access control compatibility stickers to stick on the center hinge – “Door and frame prepped for electric hardware.” or “Unpowered electric hardware installed.”

  4. Ron says:

    in addition to any fire label relabeling in the field costs.

  5. Daniel Ferry, AHC says:

    Lori, as I recall, electric through wire hinges have 2 driven in security pins at top and bottom knuckles holding the hinge pin sections in place.
    Similar to a NRP, but not in the middle.
    These are visible when you open the door.
    You can look for these and at least you will know that an electric hinge has been installed.

  6. Jim Phillips says:

    I, too, have had projects where I was involved in Owner/Architect/CM meetings at a project start-up, and we collectively “designed” an access control system, only to find out months later that the actual access control system was for “the future.”

    This has actually become fairly common, so I do several things:
    1. I purposefully try to make sure that ALL hardware I specify for access control systems will work mechanically as well as electrically.
    2. I specify manual cylinder dogging on electric latch retraction exit devices. To my amazement, I was getting calls from Owners asking why I hadn’t specified manual dogging on certain openings, and when I explained that with access control and card readers on an opening you didn’t want manual dogging because that defeated the purpose of access control, I was told, “Well, we want to have the option.” So for the last several years I have specified both and have not heard any negative feedback.
    3. I specify ETW geared hinges with a removable center section, so that a “blank” section can be installed until the system needs to be wired. Then the ETW section with wires can be installed easily.
    4. I always tag hardware sets that have electrified hardware with an “E” suffix (ie HW-1E, HW-2E) and group them together in the front of the hardware sets.
    5. I always include requirements for an access control meeting (I’m always looking for better ways to update this if you have any suggestions):

    1. ACCESS CONTROL Pre-installation Conference: Contractor/Construction Manager shall conduct conference at Project site with the Owner’s representative, the successful hardware supplier, the Owner’s access control systems supplier, the door hardware installer and the electrical subcontractor to:
    a. Coordinate the door hardware installation and access control installation for the Project.
    b. Obtain from the Owner’s representative the operational statements for each access control opening and to review the sequence and operation for each type of electrified door hardware.
    c. Within two weeks after the conference, hardware supplier shall furnish wiring riser diagrams of all electrified hardware sites to all attendees as well as “point to point” drawings and operational statements for each opening.
    d. The Owner’s access control systems supplier shall provide all necessary wiring and connections between the electrified hardware products specified and the operational systems for which they are intended.
    2. ACCESS CONTROL Post-Installation Conference: Contractor/Construction Manager shall conduct a post installation conference with all parties listed above to review installation and verify that all electrified hardware was installed properly and is operating as intended.

  7. Jim Elder says:

    One other point. If electric hardware is installed for future use, the electrical functionality needs to be tested as part of the final inspection process. Ive also had one case where the owner actually extended the warranty of the hardware in the specs.

  8. Andy Lindenberg says:

    I agree with Jim Phillips. While I try to convince the Owner that manual dogging is not a good idea with EL devices, most want to have the option. This is especially important at the beginning of the project.

    As you’ve described, sometimes the access control system doesn’t get activated or installed immediately when the building gets occupied. I ran into this more than once on school work. It became a big problem when they couldn’t unlock the doors in the morning when the kids were supposed to start school. In one case they had to tape the latches back. In another, they had to wedge the doors open when kids were getting off the bus. Not a great solution in the winter time in northern New York.

  9. Jim Elder says:

    The owner needs to know that he’s blowing the warranty period, no?

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