What Happens to a Key Card Access System in Case of a Power Outage?

What Happens to a Key Card Access System in Case of a Power Outage?

Card access control systems are one of the security options of choice for business and facility owners—your property is always secured against any unwanted visitors or activity. Card access control systems are electronic, adding the convenience of easy management. But what actually happens to a card access system in a power outage?

There are a slew of things that can cause power outages such as equipment failures, severe storms, tree limbs falling on power lines, or other failures caused by humans or animals. They’re unfortunately inevitable and can cause some serious disruption to electrical systems.

Luckily, there are some components built into card access control systems that can help save the day in the case of a power outage.

What to Know About Card Access Systems and Power Loss

The good news is that if there’s a power outage, a well-designed card access system will have been set up to continue functioning. The majority of systems have this planning built into their design, meaning they come equipped with battery backups.

If there’s an extended loss of power, your card access control system’s battery backup system may not be able to keep your system running until the power is restored.

Before you can put a plan together to prevent power cuts to your card access system, let’s go into the elements of the most common electronic locks.

Electronic Locks

Locked and unlocked with an electrical current, electronic locks can be set up to respond in one of two ways during a power outage:

1. Fail-Safe

When a lock is set to fail-safe, it becomes unlocked when there is a power outage. The system uses the electrical current to keep the door locked and is disengaged when the power is removed.

This setup is advantageous because it allows workers and visitors to safely exit the building in times of emergency. However, with the loss of power, the building becomes insecure and more susceptible to break-ins and other potential threats.


2. Fail-Secure

A fail-secure lock is the exact opposite, as it uses the electrical current to retract the lock so doors remain in the locked position in the event of an electrical outage. This helps keep the building and its valuables protected but is not ideal for larger, occupied buildings, as it may impede evacuation in the case of an emergency.

It’s important to consider the effects of a key card access power outage when setting up the system. The security system vendor should adequately calculate the amount of power current necessary to operate the door release systems and how much backup power should be available to maintain the operation of the access system in the event of a power failure.

Power outages can cause a lot of disruption in a business. Below are some tips on how to best prepare your business for a power outage.

How to Prevent Power Outages in Your Card Access System

Power outages are an inevitable part of working in a facility. Planning ahead can minimize risk and workflow disruption.

Make a Plan

Create the plan and share it with all employees, detailing each individual’s responsibilities such as maintaining business continuity, responding to emergencies, contacting clients, dealing with insurance, etc. When a power outage hits, things become hectic quickly and having a plan in place will keep the chaos at a minimum.

Consider a Backup Power Source

It’s important to have a well thought-out plan in a case of a power outage to minimize its negative effects. Your plan might include backup power systems such as Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) and generators. Another option can be the above mentioned fail-safe or fail-secure options—depending on local regulations and the requirements of your building.

Prepare for the Worst

Power outages can be caused by a wide range of things and it’s important that you prepare for the worst, for the sake of your business and employees. Keep non-perishables, water, flashlights, and batteries on hand in case the emergency requires that you stay in the building for an extended period of time.

These kinds of security plans can come included with a proposed security solution. Depending on the requirements of your building and business, the plan may include steps to take in the event of a brief and prolonged power failure.

Some other items which may be included:

  • Surge Protection: Unplug everything. When power outages occur, it’s helpful to disconnect all, but especially critical equipment. When the power eventually comes back on, the surge could be powerful enough to damage equipment.
  • Backup-Power Procedures: Be careful with your generator. If you choose to run a generator, make sure your emergency plan includes instructions on how to run it safely. Remember to never run the generator in an enclosed area, as the fumes can be lethal, and be mindful of its recommended power rating as to not overload the generator.
  • Emergency SLAs and Procedures: Keep chaos at bay. Power outages can be a stressful time for everyone, so it’s important to practice safety. People may attempt to “fix” or address issues which may put them in a dangerous situation and complicate the security envelope.

Create a standard set of policies and behaviors for teams to follow in the event of a power outage.

Get Ahead of the Next Card Access System Power Outage

What happened with an access card system during loss of power? Nothing—you planned ahead.

When setting up a key card access control system for your business, it’s important to partner with a security system provider that considers all scenarios in order to keep your business and your employees safe.

With over 47 years of experience providing security expertise across industries, we have boots-on-the-ground-level insight into the unique security challenges every business faces.

Contact us today to learn more about access control, and how we can help plan for security eventualities.