Access Control Systems: Installation Costs and Price per Door

By Bernhard Mehl
January 27, 2019

Kisi provides your office with a seamless access control experience. However, there's a crucial part of the setup process that can be overlooked:The installation of electrified locks and hardware is often the largest line item when getting started with Kisi. To understand the overall cost of installing Kisi’s access control system, it’s worth taking a look at each necessary part.

The two greatest contributing factors to access control system installation costs are materials and labor—but there are secondary costs that may not be itemized on a quote. These consist of the cost of insurance, travel, and trip charges for the installer, plus parking. These additional costs factor into your final Kisi installation price.

This article outlines exactly where each material cost comes from and what you can expect from Kisi compared to the industry average. If you want to learn more about materials, hardware, and labor details you can download our comprehensive Physical Security Guide.

Average Industry Price for Access Control Systems

Access control systems typically include a few components, with the following associated price ranges:

Average Industry Cost per Door for Access Control Systems

Let's look at a specific one-door setup to understand the average unit cost.

  • Door reader and hardware: $600-$1,200 per door
  • Installation without existing locks: $1200- $2,500 per door
  • Installation with existing locks in working condition: $500-$1,500 per door
  • Basic door license: $600/year per door

So, the total average cost for setup, including the first year of operation, is $3,350 USD.

Factors Affecting Access Control System Budget and Costs

The price of the access control system and its installation is influenced by a few different factors:

  • Quality of the installer or size of the vendor company
  • Type and level of insurance (COI) needed
  • Security and ease of use of the system
  • Volume of purchase
  • Your own knowledge of access control—do you need someone to walk you through everything, or can you coordinate between the cabling vendor, the construction company, and the integrator?
  • Urgency of purchase—if you need expedited shipping it can become more expensive

In addition to the factors listed above, we want to focus on two key elements: Level of complexity and company size.

Level of Complexity

Not all access control systems are created the same. You may go for a simple system that enables your employees and visitors to enter the premises:This basic form is known as standalone access control (the system is programmed at the door it controls).

Some companies require an integrated security system that includes video surveillance, biometric readers, and audit trails—statistics of every record of a lock opening or an attempt to open it. Such comprehensive access control systems inevitably mean a higher initial investment in the system, but they offer more rewards and chances to streamline the operations of your business or facility.

Standalone keypad system price

Traditional keys have become relics of the past because they are easy to replicate. For that reason, basic access control requires an investment in the installation of keypads, card readers, identification cards, or key fobs, as well as an electronic controller.

Of these options, keypads are the least secure because of the risk that your employees might share the code with those who are unauthorized to enter—not to mention the fact that they don’t allow for proper authentication, since multiple users would share the same code. In comparison, different types of access cards, such as magnetic and proximity cards, present a more sophisticated option.

A basic key card access system costs less than a modern solution but forces the organization to stick to a single credential. These systems will also cost time—and money—when it comes to maintenance. A system like Kisi, on the other hand, supports keycards as well as fobs, smartphones, remote unlock methods, and others, allowing organizations to continuously enjoy streamlined processes and maximum flexibility when it comes to access restrictions. The price for the license is also based on the size of the project, so there will be no surprises when it comes to future expansions or adding new users.

Company Size

Depending on the number of access points and employees within an organization, access control system costs will vary from affordable basic solutions to expensive systems that require high ongoing maintenance costs.

Big corporations and companies with multiple offices implement multi-door, networked access control systems. These systems are run from a single location and they're scalable. For example, a Hirsch Mx Controller can support up to 4,000 users in different locations.

Automation and Security

Another important aspect to consider is to what extent your system will allow you to automate processes. The most basic keycard entry systems may offer lower upfront costs, but they will likely lead to hours of work spent manually issuing keycards. Also, due to an inability to remotely manage your dashboard, the security risks for your business may be higher. All of these factors should be considered when estimating the real price of a door entry system. Kisi's keyless entry system makes life easier for employees and members, but most of all, it saves time and money for the admins (whether that's your IT department, your office managers, or your operations team).

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Kisi's Pricing

Door Controller

The Kisi Controller Pro 1.0 connects up to four doors, elevators, or turnstiles to the Kisi cloud. It also allows you to review real-time access logs, so you can manage what's happening at your spaces. Price: $899 

kisi door controller
Kisi Controller Pro 1.0

Door Reader

Kisi Reader Pro is built from the ground up with convenience, compliance, and compatibility in mind. The Bluetooth and NFC wall reader work effortlessly with both access cards and mobile devices to securely unlock your doors. Price: $599

kisi door reader
Kisi Reader Pro

Door License

Whether you have a growing company or a huge enterprise, we have different plans suited for your needs. The four tiers we offer are starter, basic, pro, and enterprise—with a pricing range that's customized for your specific use-case. The majority of our clients pay around $50 per door.

Kisi software licence to manage access remotely.
Kisi software license

Keycards

We understand that not everyone has a smartphone, and many don't like to keep theirs in their pocket at all times. That's why Kisi provides cards, at $5 per piece, for those who prefer unlocking doors the traditional way. Kisi tags, in the form of round stickers, are also available for those who would like to paste them on their existing cards.

kisi cards
Kisi Cards
kisi tags
Kisi Tags

Materials—and why you shouldn't buy your own.

The term “materials” is an all-encompassing term for every piece of hardware that's installed in your access control system. This can include your lock, power supplies, wiring, and ancillary accessories, such as keypads or push to exit buttons. However, even wire stripping, zip ties, and other miscellaneous parts are calculated into the cost of materials.

Of course, you may see a quote from an installer and decide that you want to research the cost of materials on your own. Typically, you will find similar materials online for lower prices than your installer quoted you. However, there is a reason for this. Installers carefully source their materials from trusted distributors who they develop relationships with over time. When an installer provides materials, they can do a few things:

  1. They know that the materials they are providing are of sound quality, despite the higher price.
  2. They may be able to provide a warranty on the materials provided.
  3. They work with the same materials over and over again, so they know exactly what they're doing.

When a customer elects to purchase materials from Amazon or some other hardware provider, certain assurances are lost:

  1. The materials may not be high quality and therefore break down faster than normal, especially for cheaper options.
  2. The installer will not be able to provide any type of warranty for these provided materials and may assume no responsibility for them.
  3. The installer may not know exactly how to work with the materials.

All in all, we highly recommend that you let a locksmith or other installation professional purchase the materials for your installation. Although it might cost more, it will lead to a high-quality installation that will allow Kisi to run smoother, for longer.

Labor—why a flat rate is better.

Labor is a line item that may be a bit more intangible, which makes it a bit more difficult to calculate than materials. Each installer charges different rates, and the price can vary based on geographic location and the type of installer doing the work. For instance, a company that provides IT services may charge up to $300 per hour, while locksmiths may charge anywhere from $80-$200 per hour depending on the services they are providing.

Additionally, installers typically quote a flat rate labor charge. This means the installers are estimating the number of hours it will take to complete the installation. The installation may take more or less time than estimated. However, your labor price is locked in. This is usually seen as a benefit to the client, because if you agree to a price then you are presumably comfortable with that price. So, if the installation takes less time than the installer calculated, great! The installation is complete and you're up and running with Kisi. If the installation takes longer than the installer estimated, you don't need to deal with a price increase due to time and labor. On the other hand, if a variable price is set, labor costs can quickly increase by a few hundred dollars.

What else are you really paying for? 

The final ‘charges’ to take into account can all be filed under 'miscellaneous'. Even though these charges do not get their own category, they are important nonetheless. They may not be line itemized, but in reality, you're paying for these things as well.

The first charge to consider is insurance. Most installers carry some type of insurance. This insurance can cover their workers who are on the job, any potential damage done during the installation, and various other items. Insurance costs are high for locksmith companies, which leads to increases in labor rates and markups on materials.

As mentioned earlier, another set of charges that may or may not be itemized are travel or trip charges. Most installation companies will want to make sure they are paid for the time they spend on site. This cost may not be charged for an initial visit, for example, a free site survey and estimate. However, the cost of the installer’s time may ultimately be added to the final quote of service. Depending on your location, parking prices for your installer may also be factored in.. This is another cost that may not be itemized but can be taken into account in the final quote.

Example of a modern access system
Modern access system provide a higher long term value thanks to free software updates.

Advice From an Expert: Supply Chain Security

Below, Joe Sechman, a cybersecurity expert, points out the most obvious missing pieces in access control pricing considerations*.

Sourcing Materials

One thing Joe emphasizes heavily is the ability to control the point where secure firmware is being uploaded and encrypted. At Kisi, this is in-house at our U.S. facility.

When I think about access control costs, first, and most importantly, I think about sourcing materials. Today, supply chain security is an actual attack vector that’s very real and, unfortunately, successful and overlooked. While mainly attributed to specialized chips and default soft/firmware from nation-state threats like China, North Korea, and Russia for espionage, I can easily see a natural progression into access control device suppliers...if it’s not happening already. Especially when access control solutions become cloud-accessible, it will just be a matter of time before a high-profile client brings attention to this vector.

Joe has also investigated what the relationship between installer and sourcer  means for security, saying:

I’m drawing a natural assertion that the relationship between an installer and sourcer implies better quality, so it will also imply better security to boot, in regard to where all of the parts are sourced.

On a similar note, Joe suggests that access control systems should have strong, trusting relationships with their partners, stating:. A particular process that covers security vetting, to reinforce the rigorous evaluation that partners go through before becoming an official partner, like a background check, would add some additional peace of mind and add to the value of implementing such a forward-looking solution, like Kisi, for customers.

At Kisi, we program, package, and ship the controlling devices to the customer directly from our warehouse. The integrator only visits a client's location to set up their electric door hardware, connect Kisi, and test the setup, and never adds custom firmware or software. As such, there is no entry point for them to build back-doors. However, what we do see is that clients have no choice but to trust the integrator who has been sent and that when he is working in their IT room that there is no malicious intent. In the future, we expect integrators to be more IT-facing and, as such, to comply with cybersecurity audit regulations and limitations.

Average Price and Key Takeaways

Taking into account the information stated above, your access control system budget could cost you as little as $500, per standalone system, or over $10,000 per door, with a state-of-the-art biometric reader. However, if we refrain from going to extremes, an average access control system will range from $1,500 to $3,000 per door. Within this budget, you can implement keypad and card systems and cover the cost of installation, hardware, and software. Remember that you’d have to pay extra for any additional features, though.

Before implementing an access control system, think carefully about your safety needs, vulnerabilities, and what areas need to be secured. Consider the value that can be derived from enforcing access control, and remember that for your employees’ safety and asset quality and soundness, no price is too high.

If you are considering having Kisi installed, we can provide a Kisi Partner in your city who is certified to install our hardware. If you are opting for an installation where you source your own installer, we can help you find an installer in your area—or we can speak to an installer you already have—to make sure they are prepared for your Kisi installation. Reach out to our security team to learn more!

*Quotes edited for clarity/readability.

Bernhard Mehl

Bernhard is the co-founder and CEO of Kisi. His philosophy, "security is awesome," is contagious among tech-enabled companies.