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Comparing Keyless Entry Systems: Which One is Right for Your Needs?

Keyless Entry Systems, also known as Access Control systems, are lock systems that work electronically and require an authentication method instead of a physical key. These systems can be found in commercial and residential settings and are perhaps one of the best ways to conveniently secure any premises.

Think about it, traditional locks require a key, and if you misplace a key, not only will you be locked out of the property, but you will also likely have to call in a professional locksmith, and replace the locks associated with the key.

Keyless systems provide the ultimate convenience because all they require is a PIN code or any other authentication method to unlock. However, there are several types of keyless entry systems in the market, which can make picking the right one quite the challenge.

In this guide, we will discuss the types of keyless entry systems, the best types for various use cases, and the right type of keyless entry system for your needs.


Keyless entry systems have been a staple in the commercial world for decades. These systems are not only great for controlling access to entry/exit points but are also essential for maintaining attendance (in the case of employees).

For example, every time someone authenticates, the system logs the user ID, the time, and the date of the entry. This can be useful because this data is sent to a server where it is stored and can be accessed later if needed.

How many authentication methods are there?

Well, there are several ways you can interact with a keyless entry system – but for that, we will have to go over some of the types of keyless entry systems.


As mentioned above, keyless systems work using different types of authentication methods (discussed below) that communicate with the electronic locks via a tactile keypad or proximity sensors.

When someone wishes to unlock a door, they present the correct credentials near the reader. The system verifies these credentials and, if they are authorised, approves them and the door is unlocked. Simultaneously, the entry is also logged in the system.

If the user credentials do not match, then the door remains locked, and the denial is also logged in the system.

If you want to upgrade from traditional locks to keyless entry systems then a professional access control installer will have to wire the premises for the system and set up the electronic locks.


Keyless entry systems can be categorised into three types. Each type determines how access is controlled and how access permissions are assigned.

Here are the primary types of keyless entry systems:

Discretionary Access Control (DAC)

Discretionary access control (DAC) is the most common type for residential users because instead of giving security experts control over access rights and permissions for the users, this system gives the user full control through a “super admin” access code.

As you can imagine, this makes DAC the least recommended type of access control for businesses and commercial properties.

Mandatory Access Control (MAC)

Mandatory access controls (MAC) are best for people who want maximum security. This access control assigns admin privileges to one user who needs to authenticate the system to assign roles. This can be useful for business owners as well as residential owners, especially those who sublet their property and want full control over the user roles.

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

Role-based access control (RBAC), as the name suggests, assigns different rights to different users. These systems are the go-to for business owners who want to maximise security and restrict access to a property. In a business setting, access privileges are often assigned according to the job title of employees with CEOs or executive employees receiving full access.

RBAC systems are also great for some homeowners who use their property for commercial purposes like renting out, subletting, or for Airbnb. Using this system, they can assign various access privileges to temporary occupants. However, if you are looking for a keyless entry system for your home and family use, then RBACs won’t be suitable.


Keyless entry systems often use physical cards or tactile scanners to grant access. Here are some of the popular types of keyless entry systems:

Keypad Systems

Keypad systems work in the same way as the keypads on ATMs. To authenticate, you enter a code, and the system matches and verifies the credentials to unlock.

Keypad systems popularly use PINs or secure passcodes to unlock the door and offer good security since there are no physical credentials that can be lost or stolen. These systems are ideal for home and commercial use.

However, much like ATM cards, if you share the PIN code with people, then you may compromise the security of your property. The good news is that most keyless entry systems allow for guest codes that have an expiration date.

This is great for when you want to share a code to let someone have temporary access to the property, even when you are not around.

Swipe Card Systems

Swipe cards use a physical card that needs to be swiped into the card reader to authenticate – much like how you would use an ATM card.

However, these systems are being phased out for better alternatives since wear and tear can cause the reader to not authenticate properly.

RFID Systems

RFID readers use near-field radio frequency identification technology much like your phone does! These systems can authenticate users just by pressing a physical card or your phone to the keyless entry system interface.

Most systems use passive RFID, also referred to as proximity card technology, which uses proximity-based cards and fobs to gain access.

Biometric Systems

Biometric systems use tactile scanners to identify users through their unique physical features, such as fingerprints, facial recognition, or retina scans.

These systems are best for high-risk areas or for commercial users who want the ultimate security for their property. They are one of the most expensive types of keyless entry systems.

Modern keyless entry systems can also use mobile technology powered by cloud computing. In this case, the reader can scan the phone to grant access, or you can use both the phone and a tactile authentication method as a form of two-factor authentication for even more security.

However, due to the complexity and cost of these systems, they are best suited for commercial use and are rarely found in the home setting.

Smart Lock Systems

Smart locks are versatile and modern keyless entry systems that use advanced algorithms and cloud computing to verify access.

These systems use various authentication methods and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. They are often used for properties on Airbnb or subletters.


Each type of keyless entry system also has different software that manages the user database and roles. Here are some of the most common keyless entry software systems:

Server-based access control

This software is frequently used for RBACs and MACs. Using this software, the super admin can assign roles using a web-based portal that can provide full control over the keyless entry system.

However, for maximum security, the server for this system is secluded and is usually operated through a closed network. So, you will have to hire a dedicated staff to maintain the service and purchase/renew licenses as well.

Web-based access control

Web-based access control, also called embedded access control, is the most common type of keyless entry system software for home and commercial users. Using this software, the keyless entry system can be accessed via a web browser application that connects over the LAN so that any device on the same network can easily access it.

Cloud-based access control

Most modern keyless entry systems or smart systems go for cloud servers! Cloud computing allows a user to access the system from anywhere in the world using the internet.

Unlike the two other access control software listed above, cloud-based access control operates on a decentralised server that is directly maintained by a third party, i.e., the company that sold the keyless entry system.

These systems require a constant internet connection to work. Although the keyless system will be able to lock/unlock offline based on the latest saved roles and users in the database, the system requires the internet to save log entries and access the settings of the system.


When comparing different types of keyless entry systems, you can categorise each system based on how it authorises user access.

The type of authentication method affects not just the security of the system but also its capabilities and, more importantly, costs.

Here are some of the most common types of authentication methods for keyless entry systems:

Physical keys/Cards

Physical keys are the most common type of authentication for keyless entry systems. They can be used for both commercial properties as well as for residential users who want to restrict access.

However, just like physical keys, people are also prone to losing cards. These cards can also be copied with the right software.

PIN Codes

PIN codes work with keypad entry systems where users are required to enter a 4- or 5-digit PIN to unlock the door.

For more security, some systems may also offer the choice of assigning alphanumeric passcodes.

Key Fobs or RFID Scanners

Just like the remote for your car, some keyless entry systems can also assign an RFID code to a physical fob or even your phone. In this case, all you need is to come within the proximity of the reader for authentication.

The system passively scans for RFID signals, so when it detects a signal, it verifies the code automatically and unlocks it as you approach the scanner.

These systems are costlier than keypads or card readers but are easy to use, especially for the elderly or people less versed with technology. They also offer convenience since if you are carrying groceries, you can just approach the reader and authenticate automatically.

Mobile Credentials

These systems turn your smartphone into a key!

Let’s face it, people can forget their keys, but they rarely ever forget to carry their phone.

These systems use a dedicated mobile application that pairs with the keyless entry system. By simply tapping a button on their mobile’s screen or by holding the phone against the reader they can quickly gain access.


Biometric systems turn you into a key!

As mentioned above, biometric keyless entry systems are the most expensive types of access control systems, but they offer the most convenience. These systems use fingerprint scanners, retina scanners, or facial scanners, and are ideal for multiple use cases.

This system is recommended for both residential and commercial use and can be a convenient way to gain access to a property without the use of any standalone card, key, or fob.


Now that you know all about the different types of keyless entry systems and the comparison between various authentication methods, you can easily choose the best type of system for your use.

There are several factors to consider when making this decision, but perhaps the biggest decision-maker is the cost of the system.

For example, a keypad door lock might cost around £50-£100 per door, while a smart lock with multiple access methods and remote-control capabilities can cost between £150-£300​ per door. Commercial systems can start at around £200 and can go up to £1,000 or more per door, depending on the complexity of the system and the integration of the system with other security hardware.

We also recommend that you make a list of your expectations from the keyless entry system. Your expectations will directly translate into the features that you require in the system. Please keep in mind that every system offers various features. The best way to get the right system for you is to go for a professional security company like Calder Security.

Professional security consultants can assess your needs and even conduct a security risk assessment of your property. The audit can reveal the best use cases and the ideal type of keyless entry system for your needs.


Calder Security provides a complete solution for keyless entry systems for homes and businesses which includes professional installation, maintenance, and repair services.

We’ve been working in the security industry since 1976 and partner with only the best brands. Our MLA-approved locksmiths can advise you on the best type of system by helping you assess your security needs and requirements.

Because an access control system operates the locking and unlocking mechanism of your door, installation must be completed properly by someone with detailed knowledge of how these systems work.

We are SSAIB-approved installers and offer all types of access control systems including intercoms, proximity fobs, access cards, and keypads. We also offer biometric systems that work with fingerprints or retina scans.

Access control systems are very reliable and will last a long time. But like any technology, they require periodic maintenance to continue working as they should.

We conduct annual servicing to keep your system working well and give it a full check including checking the battery strength, power supply, and connections. That way you won’t get any nasty surprises further down the line.

Sometimes problems may occur with access control systems that can affect the locking mechanism, potentially compromising the security of your property.

Common issues include simple wear and tear or faults with the power supply or batteries, and to preserve the security of your property, you need to get the problems fixed ASAP.

We operate a 24-hour emergency service run by qualified security specialist engineers who understand access systems and can resolve issues efficiently and effectively.

Contact us here or call us at 0800 612 9799 for a quick consultation and quote for our state-of-the-art keyless entry systems for residential and business use.

Photo by Nazrin Babashova on Unsplash