The most widely used access-control device is still, by far, the keypad. Keypads come with a variety of options such as pinhole cameras, on-board intercoms, customizable displays and internal memory. They are proprietary to the manufacturer of the access-control software, meaning you’ll need to buy the keypad and software from the same company. Other devices sometimes used for access control are proximity card readers, key fobs and garage-door-type or car-alarm-type clickers (for RV areas).
Pay-at-the-gate is not widely used in the self-storage market. It is often not reliable, sometimes not fully developed, and overlocks will still apply. Kiosks at unattended sites have taken the place of this feature.
The next security component to consider is door alarms. The system that ends at the access gate welcomes the would-be thief who rents a unit with the intent of cutting locks on others to burglarize the site. Door alarms are a more active security deterrent than cameras, making them an important component. If you’re doing new construction, you should use a hard-wired system. Wireless door alarms should only be considered in retrofit situations where wiring inside the unit is not possible.
Hard-wired door alarms consist of electronics at the office computer, wire that runs from building to building, electronics mounted strategically in each building, wiring from these devices to each unit door switch and, of course, the alarm software. The electronics consist of boards provided by the manufacturer and should be housed in their recommended enclosures. Wiring should also be provided by the manufacturer to ensure it is the correct type and gauge.
There are three basic types of door switches: floor, overhead and latch. Floor switches require clearance in the footing area. The door needs to be at least two inches from the concrete weather lip. Overhead switches attach at the top of the door area with the magnet mounted on the door itself.
The latch switch, commonly known as a “quick switch,” has become the industry standard. It is installed with two self-tapping screws on the door track at the latch opening. The latch blocks the magnetic field, so it needs to be metallic, not stainless steel. Door manufacturers can provide the proper piece if specified by the purchaser.