Access control panels mainly differentiate in depth of features. In the end they are all build to unlock a door but how secure this happens, how well documented it is and how controllable it is makes the difference between access control panels.
There are five main features that you should pay attention to:
Type of access control panel: Sometimes alarm panels are mistakenly perceived as access control panels. Other type of panels include reader panels or extension boards. Door contact relays - while this seems trivial there are a lot of different relays. A main difference between types of relays is wet vs dry contact relays. Also the number of available relays might differ. Standard panels have between two and eight relays.Power supply rating - The more power the board is rated for, the more power it can supply to the locks (if at all). Alarm input - While this could also run through the power supply directly, some panels offer the possibility to connect alarm systems directly to the panel. Door contact sensor input: To measure if doors are open or closed, the panel typically allows to connect to a door contact sensor which tells the panel if the door is open or closed.
Standard providers of access control panels range from Kantech to Keri Systems to more popular panels like Brivo or S2 Security who are not only board manufacturers but also provide complete security systems.
Looking at Kisi's Pro Controller Board the main components are the internet connectivity port like ethernet jack and wireless (WiFi) module. Additional components are door contact relays and power input. These are basically the main three features of an access control board. Advanced features (as mentioned above) all lead to increased tracking, more control and more input functions.
We've wrote a separate guide around alarm panels but basically they more so do only the monitoring part - not the unlocking part of the access control. It's generally not the best idea to buy access control from an alarm provider. Those panels are typically more basic in setup and not necessarily equipped with door relays.
The main company providing white label generic panels is Mercury Security. Many people don't know that even large brands don't manufacture their own access panels but white label standard, commoditized hardware.
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