Best Access Control Systems of 2021

Find the best way to keep your physical space secure

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Access control systems help maintain the security of a physical space such as an office building. Some examples of access control systems include security systems, door locks, key cards, key card readers, and encrypted data security systems. 

We researched the best access control systems based on features, integrations with external apps and software, wireless options, pricing, and professional monitoring services. We also considered types of authentication and monitoring for businesses with multiple locations.

Best Access Control Systems of 2021

Best Overall : Kisi


Kisi

Kisi

Why We Chose It: Kisi offers cloud-based software that is easy to install, has lots of features, and integrates with popular third-party apps.

What We Like
  • Remote management features

  • Cloud-based dashboard for easy monitoring

  • Advanced solutions including occupancy control

What We Don’t Like
  • Not as customizable as some other options

  • No emergency options for fire or break-ins

Founded in 2012, Kisi offers cloud-based access control for companies of all sizes. Its software is easy to set up and lets you manage access from any device at any time. Some features include remotely managed doors and lockdowns, monitoring live feeds of events in real-time, door controllers, touchless wall readers, and a mobile app. There is also offline functionality, visitor link access, event export reports, and easy access sharing. 

Kisi can be used with cameras, alarm systems, intercoms, elevators, sensors, and integrates with popular apps, including G Suite, Google Calendar, Envoy, Optix, and more. However, if you need emergency options like fire and break-in monitoring, you will have to go through a third party. 

Pricing is based on the number of access points you have and typically starts around $599 for one controller. You can get a quote via email, phone, or an online contact form.

Best for Multiple Locations : Vanderbilt Industries


Vanderbilt Industries

 Vanderbilt Industries

Why We Chose It: Vanderbilt Industries offers cloud-based access control systems with scaleable integrations designed for multi-location businesses.

What We Like
  • Optimized for multiple locations

  • Offers alarm integration

  • Custom solutions based on industry

What We Don’t Like
  • Basic packages offer limited features

  • Support only offered by local dealers

Vanderbilt Industries was founded in 2012 and specializes in securing large businesses with multiple locations, including retail, healthcare, manufacturing, civil defense, government, banking, and more. 

The company offers access control products and software, intrusion detection, video management, and custom security solutions that seamlessly integrate with leading platforms including eKey. 

Some features include software and licenses, door modules, controllers, readers, and facial recognition technology on mobile readers. Vanderbilt Industries also offers intelligent door readers and encrypted smart cards and a centralized management system that supports an unlimited number of cardholders at multiple locations. 

They also recently launched a new tool kit that allows customers to design their own ideal security system, including types of equipment, credential technology, and power options. Pricing isn't available on its website so you’ll need to contact a representative for a quote.

Best for Biometric Authentication : HID Global


HID Global

HID Global

Why We Chose It: HID Global offers access control systems with multi-factor authentication, customized packages, and robust tools and features.

What We Like
  • Customized id cards with secure features

  • Visitor management tools

  • Biometric authentication including fingerprints

What We Don’t Like
  • No cloud-based option

  • Requires a local server

HID Global was founded in 1991 and provides secure physical and digital access control to a variety of industries, including criminal justice, defense, enterprise, education, government, healthcare, transportation, and more. 

The company’s access control features include cost control functions, real-time monitoring, visitor access, personalized concept to implementation support, and integrated mobile solutions, as well as location services and mobile access from smartphones and tablets. 

HID Global also offers biometric authentication including fingerprint scans and the technology can even tell if the fingerprints are from living tissues. This takes security a step further than most companies and is ideal for industries that need extra levels of protection. 

You can contact the company online or over the phone and work with a sales representative to come up with a unique custom security solution and custom pricing.

Best Wireless Option : SALTO


SALTO

 SALTO

Why We Chose It: Wireless locks and readers, no expensive wiring, and an easy-to-install system make SALTO our top choice for wireless access control systems.

What We Like
  • Wide ranges of wireless hardware

  • Mobile access app

What We Don’t Like
  • No cloud-based options

  • Need to use SALTO hardware

Founded in 2001, SALTO is one of the top five leading manufacturers of electronic access control systems worldwide offering businesses easy-to-install, wireless, battery-operated access control systems.

Although SALTO systems require no external wiring, you can only use SALTO hardware and can’t mix and match locks, hardware, readers, or other hardware from different manufacturers. It also requires users to set up a local server but also operates on a cloud-based system and a mobile app. 

SALTO offers customer service online and over the phone along with extensive virtual training programs. Pricing is customized and is given by a sales rep once you choose the type of products and services you need. SALTO’s hardware is some of the easiest to install because it doesn’t involve wiring or the need for a professional electrician.

Best Professional Monitoring : ADT


ADT

ADT

Why We Chose It: ADT is a well-known security company that offers 24/7 professional monitoring as well as remote managing and user access control.

What We Like
  • Create or delete users with just a few clicks

  • Real-time mobile alerts

  • Buzz visitors into your business from anywhere

What We Don’t Like
  • Focus on home security systems may turn off business users

  • No upfront pricing available

Perhaps the most well-known company on our list, ADT offers both home and business security systems with 24/7 professional monitoring. The company has expanded and innovated its services and now also offers business security monitoring and access control systems for a variety of industries including retail, automotive, food and beverage, health and wellness, manufacturing, and more. 

Some of ADT’s features include mobile access to lock and unlock doors from virtually anywhere, keycard readers, intercoms, personalized and controlled access for staff, vendors, and visitors, and file protection. Video monitoring, surveillance, video verification, and fire and emergency protection are also offered.

ADT puts a strong emphasis on customer service offering live phone support with a commitment to answering all calls within 60 seconds. It also has trained sales teams and technicians who can come to your business for an in-person consultation, training, or to set up your services. Most appointments can be scheduled as soon as the next day. Pricing varies based on the type of equipment and monitoring you select.

Most Affordable : ISONAS


ISONAS

 ISONAS

Why We Chose It: ISONAS designs and manufactures affordable access control solutions that are flexible and easy to install.

What We Like
  • Systems can be used on your existing network

  • Online training for easy setup

  • Integrations including a badge printing software

What We Don’t Like
  • No biometric security options

  • Doesn’t pair with fire and alarm systems

ISONAS offers affordable access control systems built with ease of use and no complex installations in mind. The company’s systems integrate with Windows-based software and are used by private and commercial organizations across the world with over 50,000 ISONAS readers installed worldwide. 

Some tools and features offered include proximity badge cards, mobile credentials, key fobs, enrollment readers, wall-mounted controllers, and a badge printing integration system. ISONAS also offers two systems to choose from: Pure Access Cloud or Pure Access Manager. The Cloud system only requires a network connection, is fully hosted, and doesn’t need any onsite hardware. The Manager system is an on-premise version that allows you to manage your access control from any of your devices hosted in your network. 

ISONAS offers customer support online and can help you get set up. Pricing varies depending on which software, hardware, and other products you chose, though a one-year one- to five-door license starts at $412. For more pricing details, contact the company directly to see which solutions best fit your company’s needs.

Final Verdict

Access control systems are as different as the businesses they serve and offer features that can be overkill for some users and just enough for others. Most of the ones we reviewed are easy to set up, offer cloud-based controls and can be adapted to the needs of nearly any business.   

If you’re not sure where to start out, we recommend checking out Kisi. It’s an easy-to-use and secure cloud-based platform with lots of third-party integrations that work with existing systems and software.

Compare the Best Access Control Systems

Company Cost Cloud-Based Notable Features
Kisi
Best Overall
$599+ for controller Yes Integrates with many third-party apps
Vanderbilt Industries
Best for Multiple Locations
Pricing available during consultation Yes Support for unlimited cardholders
HID Global
Best for Biometric Authentication
Pricing available during consultation No High levels of encryption similar to passports
SALTO
Best Wireless Option
Pricing available during consultation No  No hardwiring needed
ADT
Best Professional Monitoring
Pricing available during consultation  Yes Custom security options and an app
ISONAS
Most Affordable
$412+ for 1-5 door licenses  Partial Works with existing systems

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is an Access Control System?

An access control system limits access to people who have been authorized to enter areas that might hold confidential files, sensitive data, or may just have high-level executives working there. This might include a security system that requires users to swipe a security card to access certain areas of a building or even an elevator. 

Encryption, passwords, biometrics, and firewalls may be used to control which users have access, when access is granted, and for how long. Businesses that store confidential and personal information may actually be required by law to employ access control systems. 

What Are the Different Types of Access Control Systems?

The different types of access control systems are typically broken down into three categories:

  • Discretionary Access Control: The least restrictive system, the business owner sets controls and decides who is allowed into physical and digital spaces
  • Managed Access Control: Often used in organizations where information is classified and confidential; all users will receive a classification that allows certain access 
  • Role-Based Access Control: Used in homes and businesses this system assigns access based on the user’s role and privileges are set based on the person’s job duties or responsibilities

What Kinds of Businesses Need Access Control Systems? 

Nearly any business with a physical location can benefit from an access control system. One business may want to prevent employee theft, another may want to keep files confidential and another may want to ensure no outsiders enter the premises. 

Types of businesses that can benefit from access control systems include military organizations, doctor’s offices with confidential patient files, jewelry stores, stores with valuable paintings, law firms, government agencies, and retail stores that want to help prevent theft. 

How Do IP Access Control Systems Work? 

IP access control systems work by having an electronic access controller that is designed to control entry and exit into restricted spaces. The IP software can control access to doors, elevators, intercoms, and cameras. 

IP systems are also directly connected to a LAN/WAN connection which means they can track all input and output data as well as monitor things like door locks. Each IP system has its own onboard network interface and doesn’t need support from a terminal server. 

How We Chose the Best Access Control Systems

We reviewed a dozen access control systems before settling on our top picks. We selected companies with industry experience, positive reputations, and overall strong customer reviews and considered pricing, features, tools, and ease of setup and use. 

We also considered how each system is set up, whether it is cloud-based or requires a local network, whether it includes professional monitoring, and if supports multiple locations. All of our top choices offer flexible plans and pricing, some type of cloud-based access, integrations with outside systems, and great customer support.