Click-Click! It’s not supposed to work that way…

I was sitting in the waiting area of a business office the other day, and every time someone walked passed me I could hear the electric strike on the exterior door unlocking and then relocking. Click-Click!

The business had an Access Control System in place, and there was a card reader on the outside of the business entrance. I was sitting in the lobby, just inside the business entrance. The door was equipped with a card reader and an electric strike. It was also equipped with a “request-to-exit” sensor, commonly referred to as a motion sensor, or RTE, or REX. Click-Click!

A little about Access Control Systems

It is common for Access Control Systems to pair a request-to-exit sensor with a door position switch on card reader doors. This is how the system knows whether the door is open or closed, whether a valid card has been presented prior to the door opening, whether a person is entering the door or exiting the door. These four items – card reader, electric strike, request-to-exit sensor, and door position switch work in tandem to distinguish valid entries and exits from invalid entries and exits. Click-Click!

When you present a valid card to a locked door, the system acknowledges the validity of your card for the door, the day of the week, and the time of day you’re attempting to enter. The system signals the electric strike to unlock (Click!) and also signals the door position switch to disregard the fact that the door will be opened for a specific period of time; thus allowing you to enter without triggering any alarms. Once the door closes behind you, the electric strike re-energizes (Click!)

When you exit the building, as you approach the door, the request-to-exit sensor detects you and signals the door position switch to disregard the fact that the door will be opened for a specific period of time. You reach the door, turn the handle or push the exit device, swing the door open, and let the door close behind you. As long as the door closes properly behind you, without being blocked or propped open, that’s a valid exit. No harm, no foul.

Back to the story…

Back to my “sitting in the lobby” story… The request-to-exit sensor was actually unlocking the electric strike, thereby unlocking the door, every time anyone walked around in the lobby, whether they intended to exit the building or not. Click-Click!

When I mentioned to the receptionist that I would like to give whoever was responsible for their Access Control System some advice, and explained the situation, her response was, “all of the doors in the whole building work that way.”

It’s not supposed to work that way. Imagine this, your building is locked for the evening. Someone is in the lobby waiting to be picked up for a ride home. For safety sake, they are waiting in a secure lobby; except for the fact that every time they get close enough to the door to look and see if their ride is there yet, they inadvertently and unintentionally cause the door to unlock. Click-Click! Anyone on the outside with a keen ear can simply pull the door open and walk in. So much for that secure lobby!

The fix is simple. It’s a matter of programming. The request-to-exit sensor should be programmed to shunt or bypass the door position switch, but not unlock the electric strike. No Click! No harm, no foul!


Gloria Lubben, CPP
Executive Vice President

Gloria joined with Pat Van Haren in 1993 to found SecurAlarm and help forge its vision. Gloria is passionate about working where what we do to enhance security on behalf of our clients matters. As a graduate of Calvin College, she takes her alma mater’s slogan of service personally: “My heart I offer to you Lord, promptly and sincerely.” Gloria has been active in the industry since 1983 as a consultant and trusted advisor to clients, as a teacher and mentor of teammates, as a respected competitor of industry related peers, and since 1993 as a Certified Protection Professional. Today, Gloria focuses on New Business Development opportunities by leveraging her years of experience and bringing the unique SecurAlarm message and methods to bear on the business challenges of some of the region’s largest companies. Gloria and her family enjoy the great outdoors: fishing, hunting, camping, and exploring different parts of the country!

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