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Reader Controllers

Electronic access control is quickly becoming the standard in commercial buildings. From high-rise offices to hospitals and just about everything in between, building owners seek the security, convenience and efficiency of reader controllers solutions.

Looking for more information? Connect with an Allegion team member for help.


While some reader controllers may look the same, they can function very differently depending on their power supply and how they connect to the access control system. It's important to know how they work and understand which type provides the best security, convenience and efficiency for your space.

  • Reader controllers combine reader technology together with the intelligence of a controller to provide a solution that can interface with an electrified lock, electric strike, exit device or automatic operator for common area and perimeter applications
  • Usually a plastic or metal box that is mounted on the wall in a secure area of the building like the IT room; can also be around the door
  • Acts like the brain of electronic access control system, it's the part that does the deciding
  • When it receives an ID number from one of the readers, it checks ID numbers and any other conditions for access such as time of day or what door they're trying to access
  • If all of the checks that the controller has been programmed to do pass, then the controller will send a signal to unlock the door

Today, reader controllers are used in a variety of interior and exterior applications including:

  • IP/POE - Perimeter, parking gate, server cabinet, sensitive spaces
  • Single openings - Multifamily, commercial mixed use, narrow stile and retail store front applications
  • Security - Electronics bring more visibility and control to virtually every opening
  • Convenience - Offline and real-time based online solutions through the latest technology - BLE, Wi-Fi® and Ethernet
  • Efficiency - Manage users and assign access privileges from virtually anywhere
  • Every electronic access control system has three basics parts: a reader, controller, and a lock
  • There are a few different ways that a reader sends information to a controller and depending on the system, devices may send information over wires or wirelessly
  • The article, Demystifying Wireless, can help determine when wireless is a smart choice and when wired may be the better option
  • Reader controllers can be located at the "edge" or "around the door"
  • Integration status, features and capabilities with products will vary by PACS providers (Physical Access Control Software provider)

"Edge Device"

  • The "brains" are located at the door frame versus in the IT closet
  • Decisions are made at the edge of the door

"Around the Door"

  • Wired to sensors/switches and a locking device such as an electrified lock, electrified strike or electromagnetic lock
  • Most common EAC solution, often found on perimeter openings 

All-in-One Reader Controllers

  • Cost-effective and convenient device that connects direct to existing IT networks
  • Power can be supplied by PoE cable, eliminating the need for a separate power supply


  • Do not require wiring to the access control system, use offline controllers
  • Designed for single openings in applications where the security and convenience of electronic access control is desired, but application of an electronic lock may not be practical
  • Can work with a variety of readers, as well as interface with peripheral devices such as automatic operators, electric strikes, and electromagnetic locks
  • Common applications: narrow stile aluminum store front applications

Offline, No-Tour

  • Offline environment that offers streamlined benefits while delivering great user benefits
  • Utilizes mobile credentials with offline locks which eliminates the need to tour/visit every properties
  • Common applications: multifamily entrances and common areas, commercial office perimeters, office doors, common areas and amenities

Networked, Periodic Check-In

  • Utilizes build-in Wi-Fi that provides an option to connect directly to an existing Wi-Fi network for automatic daily updates
  • Common applications: perimeters and common areas

Networked, Real-Time 

  • Utilizes IP/POE or RS-485  
  • Mobile credentials protected and stored on users' smartphones
  • Enables real-time communication with software with PACS providers
  • Common applications: multifamily entrances and common areas, commercial office perimeters, office doors, common areas and amenities  

All-in-one reader controllers are simpler, easier, and faster to install than traditional electronic access control. Let's compare the two:

Panel-based access control requirements:

  • Main panel
  • Electrician 120 VAC with 12V 600ms vsp
  • Door controllers
  • Power supplies

All-in-one reader controllers:

  • Utilize on-site IT network
  • Eliminates need for main panel, electrician 120 VAC, door controllers and power supplies
  • Scalable, flexible and less expensive
  • Utilize an on-site IT network
  • Simpler, easier and faster to install versus traditional EAC
  • Scalable, flexible and less expensive
  • Panel-based access control

Mobile (includes Bluetooth® low energy aka BLE and Near Field Communication aka NFC)

  • Based on latest encryption technology, using phones as credentials
  • Eco-friendly; eliminates the need to replace cards or issue new ones
  • Increased use of smartphones and apps makes them more common

Smart technology (aka 13.56 mHz or high frequency )

  • Most secure contactless option
  • Advanced data encryption makes duplication nearly impossible
  • Two-way communication between the card and reader provides mutual authentication
  • Multiple sectors on the card allow for storage beyond access control, including data storage and cashless vending

Proximity (aka 125 khZ or low frequency)

  • Contactless card that doesn’t require physical contact with the reader
  • May be read from within a few inches of the reader depending on the reader and card
  • Storage limited to card number alone
  • Limited security, duplication possible

Mag (magnetic) stripe

  • Card credential must be swiped through a reader
  • Limited encryption, which is more susceptible to duplication
  • One-way communication only, making duplication possible

The ASM (also known as the EDK) stands for Advanced Security Module (or exterior door kit, EDK) and is used for exterior doors to provide an increased level of security by preventing the lock or strike wires from being in contact with the unsecure side of the door.

  • Standard Wiegand output provides flexibility and allows the reader to interface with many common access control systems
  • RS-485 output provides more robust security and uses bi-directional OSDP communication
  • Note, not all RS-485 readers are OSDP Verified
  • Watch the Intro to Access Control videos, Wired Communication Technologies and Wireless Communication Technologies to learn more

There are a few different ways that a reader sends information to a controller. Depending on the system, devices may send information over wires or wirelessly. Wiegand and OSDP are both wired protocols.


  • One of the earliest methods and still very common today
  • A simple method in which the ID number is a stream of ones and zeroes
  • Compatible with most readers
  •  Uses one-way communication and does not have encryption
  • Pulse weakens after 500 feet

OSDP (or Open Supervised Device Protocol)

  • Newer secure alternative
  • Uses RS-485, a serial communication protocol designed to provide higher level of communication, containing an A,B, and SC line
  • Method allows data transmission to happen in stages
  • Uses bidirectional communication and features 128-bit AES encryption
  • Distance can reach about 3,000 feet
  • Watch the Intro to Access Control videos, Wired Communication Technologies and Wireless Communication Technologies to learn more

Selecting the most effective reader controller for your organization can be challenging as many considerations should be reviewed to help make the right decision. Start by asking:

  • What is the desired response time?
  • How important is real-time visibility and control? ​
  • How many openings and users do you estimate the system to cover?
  • Is preference to have the access control decision made at the host or the lock?
  • Is there already a PACS system in place or a PACS provider in mind?​
  • Are you looking for basic access control or a fully integrated solution that can manage other things such as video, visitor management, schedule maintenance, package delivery, and more?​
  • Do you want to manage and support of the system yourself or would you prefer to work with a service provider?​
  • Do you need a system to manage a single site or multiple sites? ​
  • Are you interested in using mobile credentials? If yes, now or in the future?


You can contact Allegion Customer Service (Sales Support) or Technical Support (Product Support) by phone or by email.  


To contact by phone: Call 877.671.7011

PRESS Option 1 for Customer Service then select your specific product category:

  • Mechanical Locks & Keying Systems by Schlage, Falcon or Dexter PRESS 1
  • Electronic Locks, System Components, Biometrics, Readers or Credentials PRESS 2


PRESS Option 2 for Technical Support then select your specific product category:

  • Mechanical Locks & Keying Systems by Schlage, Falcon or Dexter PRESS 1
  • Electronic Locking Products AD, CO, NDE, LE, Control, Express, Engage, Multi-Family Solutions, ISONAS Hardware or Pure Access Software PRESS 2
  • For AD, CO, PIM, Express, BE367/FE210 and all legacy related locks like CM and King Cobra, PRESS 1
  • For ENGAGE related products including NDE, LE, Control, CTE and Gateway, PRESS 2
  • For ISONAS Hardware and Pure Access Software, PRESS 3
  • Readers and Credentials, Biometrics or System Components such as Maglocks or key switches by Schlage or Locknetics PRESS 6


PRESS Option 3 to reach your local sales office, you will be directed based upon the area code from which you are calling



Sales Support (Customer Service for all Product Categories and Regions)  


Technical Product Support:

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