An overview of wireless access control

Should you use WiFi or ethernet for door access control? What are the pros and cons of using a wireless access control system?

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Wireless technology in access control

Before jumping into how wireless is used in WiFi locks and wireless access control, let's take a look at the underlying technology: Wireless Fidelity, commonly known as WiFi, is a wireless technology for local area network LAN. This technology is governed by IEEE 802.11 standard for physical and media access control MAC.

WiFi technology commonly uses a 2.4 GHz wireless band reserved for industrial, scientific, and medical ISM applications; it can also use 900 MHz, 3.6 GHz, and 60 GHz bands.

The indoor WiFi network range varies between 66 ft to 230 ft based on the type of modulation, bandwidth, and other factors. The outdoor range is always a bit longer than the indoor ranges with the same network parameters, due to lesser hindrances. A wide range of WiFi-enabled devices is available in the marketplace that includes cell phones, PCs, tablets, access control security systems, office equipment, home appliances, and others.

Wireless access control: Components

WiFi-based access systems use a combination of software and hardware resources. The main products commonly used in a WiFi-enabled security system include:

  • Electronic or wireless locks
  • Wireless readers
  • Wireless access point
  • Access control application
  • Fobs

These products communicate with each other through a wireless communication system.

How Wifi access control works

WiFi is a central technology in modern security and access control systems. Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the key models of future communication systems, which integrates equipment, devices, and home appliances commonly used in our day-to-day life. That integration is accomplished through an IP-based internet system.

In a door access control system, the legacy locks of a building are replaced with wireless-enabled electronic locks. Those locks connect to a wireless access point or wireless router, which facilitates multiple wireless-enabled devices and locks to communicate with each other within specified criteria and conditions. The control and management of the entire door security access system is done through a software application, which provides an interface to configure the desired conditions and criteria for accessing the doors.

The replica of that software can also be installed on your mobile devices as a mobile app to control the system operations. Electronically programmed fobs can also be used for manual access to a particular area. This entire door access system can work in standalone, integrated, and offline modes if properly configured. While using the manual access method, an electronic fob is inserted into the wireless reader, which reads the data on that particular fob and establishes communication with the main application for access conditions and criteria. Based on those criteria, access to the wireless door locks is granted from the core application.

Modern wireless door locks are able to handle multiple data input systems like thumb impressions, manual codes, images, and more through wireless door readers. It has developed and become a more advanced solution over the years.

How do wireless locks compare with other technologies?

Wireless locks are incredibly helpful in many use cases, and they often represent a very valid option. There are, however, some use cases where wireless locks are not an ideal solution. We cover all these case scenarios on our page for smart locks.

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Wireless access control systems offer many benefits for organizations, creating seamless entry with little hassle when it comes to installation. Wifi access control is often recommended to businesses for many reasons related to their security. Still, it’s also important to consider the following when deciding whether this solution is the right fit for your organization:


  • Often cheaper than legacy access control systems
  • They offer a good level of security
  • Can be installed without professionals most of the time, and are very quick to install
  • Modern systems offer peace of mind


  • They are not part of a bigger security ecosystem
  • Some systems do not work in offline mode, so this might present a problem in the case of a blackout
  • They can become obsolete quicker

If you want a complete overview of the differences between smart locks and our solution, check out our smart locks comparison page!

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