Construction Corner is a Q&A column committed to answering reader-submitted questions regarding construction and development. Inquiries may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Q: In the past two months, I've had two keypads at my storage facility knocked over by trucks. What is the best way to protect my keypads at the gate?
—Jack in Albuquerque, N.M.
A: That depends on the type of keypad and how it is mounted. Keypads are commonly installed on a gooseneck and bolted to a concrete slab at the gate. In this situation, you can install bollards—steel posts filled with concrete—around the keypad to protect it from vehicle-related mishaps. Sometimes a keypad can be mounted on a wall or gate post, making it a less likely target. When placing your keypads, keep convenience and equipment safety in mind. From a customer-service perspective, it's best to put them where tenants can access them without getting out of their vehicles; but this will obviously require additional safeguards.
Q: Is there any way to prevent an access system from being damaged by lightning or electrical surges?
—Nancy in Wichita, Kan.
A: Nothing will protect equipment from a direct lightning strike, but there are several measures that can prevent damage from electrical storms and surges. Lightning only needs to strike a nearby area to send surges to electronic components, so check your power supplies for safety. All equipment and computers should be plugged into a surge protector. Some security vendors offer devices with a grounding plug that will divert harmful electrical charges to the grounding source of the building. If you live in a lightning-prone area, ask your supplier what protections it can offer.
Unfortunately, while a surge protector can help, electrical charges do not need to go through power wires to cause damage. They can flow through any conductive source, such as an unprotected data wire. Higher-end keypads have special protectors for data wires that can dissipate an electrical charge before it damages the keypad circuitry. Check with your vendor to see if this is available.
Rod Davis is the installation manager for QuikStor, a provider of self-storage security and software since 1987. For more information, visit www.quikstor.com.