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Power Outage and Electronic Entry to Buildings

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CanCricket
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Power Outage and Electronic Entry to Buildings

Postby CanCricket » Sat Apr 29, 2017 5:44 pm

I've been mulling this over for a while now and I'm wondering if anyone knows more about it. My apartment building, and many others across the country, have electronic key fob entry. The fob is used to open doors and to access the elevator. In the event of a power outage, there is a battery back-up which will keep the fob entry system working for a few hours. But I'm puzzled as to what would happen in the event of a sustained power outage. And no one I've spoken to in connection to my building seems to have an answer for this. I have a regular key that allows me to access stairwells. But even with that, in order to get into a stairwell from the outside, I need to swipe my fob. It seems to me that, in a sustained power outage, anyone in a building with key fob entry is going to be completely screwed. You'd have to leave a door propped open so that you can get back in, hugely increasing your security risks. Anyone know more about these systems and if there's any solution to this problem? I like the idea of being on an upper floor in an apartment building, as in it feels secure to me, but not being able to get in and out safely is an issue for me.
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Re: Power Outage and Electronic Entry to Buildings

Postby RachelM » Tue May 02, 2017 4:25 pm

I guess that depends on whether they would lock shut or open (y'know, think of prison movies where the power gets cut and all the cells open?). I don't really know. Is there a manufacturer's name or company on the system anywhere? I'd contact them and see if they would know.
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Re: Power Outage and Electronic Entry to Buildings

Postby jonesy » Wed May 03, 2017 3:59 am

Res q me window breaker. Or a collapsible baton, brick, etc. If power's off for that long, no one will notice!! And if you're there more than a day after that, a solid window won't improve security.

For now, just trust the system. If the power's not on after a week, you should have left / leave at that point anyway.
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Re: Power Outage and Electronic Entry to Buildings

Postby peppercorn » Wed May 10, 2017 2:44 am

I have given this some thought, I have no experience with such systems but in thinking it over, I am reasonably sure how these systems would be constructed. From a manufacturers perspective I suspect liability would be a prime concern, and they would be most liable if people could not get in to provide medical help, or the opposite, the people could not get out, as in the case of fire...So if my thinking is correct then the default is unlocked. Once the battery back up runs out the lock must default to open, not locked. I bet this is also true with commercially manufactured gates that people in the country have installed at the start of their driveway.
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Re: Power Outage and Electronic Entry to Buildings

Postby jonesy » Wed May 10, 2017 6:41 am

I would think that would make sense.
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Re: Power Outage and Electronic Entry to Buildings

Postby Wayne » Wed May 10, 2017 8:40 pm

It really depends on the system. For example, a Fail-safe door/Lock and Magnetic lock will open automatically in case of power loss. Yet a Fail-secure door/lock will lock automatically in case of power loss. There are other designs as well that lock or unlock in-case of power failure. Many that lock have a battery back-up while others don't. It largely depends on the lock design rather than the keying element i.e. key, punch pad, FOB, scan, etc. This element opens the lock rather than controls the system design.
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Re: Power Outage and Electronic Entry to Buildings

Postby peppercorn » Thu May 11, 2017 1:37 am

Wayne wrote:It really depends on the system. For example, a Fail-safe door/Lock and Magnetic lock will open automatically in case of power loss. Yet a Fail-secure door/lock will lock automatically in case of power loss


I agree there are both types of locks, but I suspect where they are used will determine the type, with again liability being the determinate factor, such as for example the Apartment building (public access area) , there I suspect only failed open types would be considered, where as the drug store room for a pharmacy would likely be a better candidate for a failed closed type lock.
You would think there would be someone on here that installs, repairs or sells such system and could say?
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Re: Power Outage and Electronic Entry to Buildings

Postby Wayne » Thu May 11, 2017 7:10 pm

peppercorn wrote:[quote="I agree there are both types of locks, but I suspect where they are used will determine the type, with again liability being the determinate factor, such as for example the Apartment building (public access area) , there I suspect only failed open types would be considered, where as the drug store room for a pharmacy would likely be a better candidate for a failed closed type lock.
You would think there would be someone on here that installs, repairs or sells such system and could say?


I haven't installed them, but I've investigated a number of robberies and B&Es where they have been employed. I agree that application should be the deciding factor. I don't think however the installers could shed light on the situation, as I think they install whatever is on the work order. I'm sure that many municipal building and safety/fire codes offer guidelines and specifications in some circumstances.

Regardless of the system, there are often battery back-up buttons as well. Sometimes these work in interesting ways. There was a Jeweller on King Street that I knew in Toronto who installed a Mag-Lock in a work area where he designed jewellery and stored free stones of some worth. If the power went out it would lock and would not unlock until the power came back-on and the correct pass card was used. As he often worked late by himself designing jewelry, he decided to put a battery back-up on the inside, so incase of power failure he could let himself out in an emergency. He wanted this ability, yet if he was outside the room when the power went out, there was no way he could get in until the power came back on. The front entrance used a non-electric deadbolt. opened with a key and otherwise no alarm system. I guess it really depends on what the customer wants and the risk they are comfortable with.
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Re: Power Outage and Electronic Entry to Buildings

Postby CanCricket » Thu May 11, 2017 7:18 pm

I'm waiting to hear back from my property manager with an answer to my questions about this system. If she can't help, then I'm hoping she can point me towards someone who can. Whatever I find out, I will let you know. Modern technology - so convenient in our modern technological world, but a pain in the ass and useless when the SHTF.
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Re: Power Outage and Electronic Entry to Buildings

Postby CanCricket » Fri May 12, 2017 2:15 am

Well, all I managed to learn is that the system is battery-operated and should function in a power outage. That's it. I have no idea what happens when the batteries die. I think more research is in my future! It's incredible how much we don't know about the technology we use every day and what will happen to it once the power goes out.
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