Door Access Control – Commercial Versus Residential Systems

Comparison of Door Access Systems

Access Control Systems
Access Control Systems

A Door Access Control System consists of an electronic door reader, the door access controller, electric lock, and access control management software. Both the residential and commercial access control systems have all the same components, yet they have very different capabilities.

This article compares the difference between commercial enterprise and residential access control systems.

The primary difference between residential and commercial access control systems is the number of people and doors they can control. Here is a comparison of the feature and functions of the two types of access control systems

Access Control Comparison Chart


Usually includes simple PIN for access control

Very few Users (one to five users)

A small number of door readers

Simple credentials include PIN or card credentials

Limited functions

Limited integration with other security systems


Advanced Credentials

Many users (one to thousands)

Many door readers

Sophisticated credentials include cards, Bluetooth mobile smartphone, and biometric options

Sophisticated programming functions

Optional integration with other security systems such as IP camera systems and PA over IP systems and intercoms. Provides lock-down and law enforcement notification

Residential Access Control Door Readers

Door Reader and Lock

The door readers used in residential applications usually use a PIN for entry control (though some have a card credential option). The user is assigned a four or five-digit number that they enter on the reader’s keypad. This is not as secure as the readers used in commercial applications.

For example, Doorking provides a selection of outdoor readers that are used for doors or gates to control access.  The readers store up to 400 PIN codes and can be programmed from the keypad. They require a separate electric lock.

Dromakaba provides complete PIN access control and lock assemblies that can be easily installed in a residential home. Some systems offer optional RFID card credentials.

These readers are used for one or two doors and are not designed for multiple door applications. They provide limited protection. The PIN is the least secure method of access control. For more details about security, please read, Comparison of Security Provided by Door Access Systems.

Commercial Enterprise Access Control Door Readers

Though you can get commercial door readers with just a PIN entry, they are usually sold with cards or other credentials. Besides card credentials, you can select mobile credentials that use a Bluetooth connection to your smartphone or biometric door readers.

There are commercial door readers such as the Isonas readers that include a built-in controller. They attach to the network and are controlled by sophisticated cloud-based management software.  The Hartmann door access control system has a separate network-attached IP controller and a wide selection of readers. For example, a Bluetooth connected smartphone mobile door reader lets you open the door by waving your hand in front of the reader.

Apartment intercoms and elevator access controllers can be added to the access control system, providing a complete security system for commercial properties. If you require temperature monitoring, you can add a temperature scanning panel.

All these reader-controllers are designed for applications where there are many doors and hundreds of users.

Door Access Control Management Software

The management software is one of the critical differences between residential and enterprise commercial access control systems.  The software is essential when there are many users. The access control software makes it easy to enroll all the users. Here are some of the essential functions that are required in commercial applications:

Access Privilege Defines Who, When, and Where a Person Can Enter

Each individual can be assigned to specific groups. For example, office workers can enter the front door only from 9 am to 5 pm. The management team can enter through the front or back door and enter anytime between 8 am and 10 pm. The security person can open any door at any time. All this is controlled by setting up access privilege groups and then assigning them to each group.

Enter Holidays and Special Events

Advanced systems not only allow you to enter holidays, but they also allow you to establish special events. In this way, your organization can schedule an open house and adjust who can come for that one particular event.

Handling Special Situations

In a crisis, it may be necessary to change how the door locks behave. In an emergency, you can prevent certain users from opening a door. You can establish each user’s security level and then assign these levels to the crisis groups. In a crisis, anyone with a higher security level can use the door while the lower levels can’t open the door.


The access control management software provides reports that allow you to track the activities relating to door access. The report can show the time someone entered and the door they used. If you add door readers for exit control, you can tell when the person left. Only authorized system administrators have access to these reports.

The reports can also tell you when access was denied. You can tell if an ex-employee tried to use their credential to get in or if a credential was used in an anti-passback violation. By using an optional IP camera system, you can match the people with the credentials used to open a door.

Access Control Integration with other Security Systems

Commercial access control can integrate with other security systems. For example, you can add elevator control, intercoms, or IP camera systems.  It is possible to use a surveillance camera to view the door in a residential environment, but the two systems are not integrated. If you would like to check who entered the door at a specific time, you need to review the recorded video and search for the correct time.

Access Control and Visitor Management Integration
Access Control and Visitor Management Integration

In a commercial system, the access control and the IP camera system can be integrated. The system allows you to see the video using the access control management system.

Some residential access control systems have IP intercoms, but they are not easy to install and are not flexible. The commercial systems integrate IP intercoms so that the security person can see the visitors at the door and then remotely open the door.

Commercial versus Residential Access Control Summary

Residential systems cost less than commercial systems. The reason is that they provide less security and functionality required in a commercial application. Access control management software is one of the critical components of a commercial system. It provides the power to support hundreds of users and doors.

Please contact us for help selecting the right access control system. We can be reached at 800-431-1658 in the USA, or 914-944-3425 everywhere else, or use our contact form.