Member Discussion

Access Card Reader Distance From Door Recommendations?

Is there a requirement or recommended practice for the distance that a card reader can be from the door? 

If the architect does a pedestal card reader instead of wall-mounted next to the door, does this change?

ADA better know it.


We normally like to see the card reader on the approach path to the door, at least 3' back from the door so that it clears the door if it is out-swinging. It should not be necessary to back up in order to open the door. If there are several adjacent doors that are card reader controlled, it should be obvious which reader opens which door.  

In America, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifies the max elevation height of devices, but architecture will affect the location. If final location seems a bit far to your liking, maybe set the unlock duration time a bit longer.

I'm curious as to why the architect would pedestal mount the reader if it is an option to wall-mount it next to the door. Why go through the trouble?

Pedestals are often used at the exterior entrance doors to office buildings. The pedestal is typically located next to the sidewalk that leads up to the door and contains the card reader as well as the actuator button for the automatic door opener.  

In many of these applications, there is no directly adjacent wall on which to mount the reader/actuator button. If a pedestal wasn't used, the only other choice would be to mount the reader on the mullion beside the door. This wouldn't work well because the user would have to back up to clear the door when it opened.

We also see pedestals used on interior doors installed in all-glass partition systems where there is no wall on which to mount the reader. 


Hi Michael,

I understand the use of pedestals when they are warranted by the physical layout of the door.
What I wanted to know was why was a pedestal warranted in this specific case instead of wall mounting

Mark, can you post a picture or floor plan of the location? It's difficult to say why an architect does anything they do.

It's difficult to say why an architect does anything they do


These are the most accurate words in the English language. 

Thanks for all the astute insights.  My initial inquiry was in an effort to advise an architect colleague in a situation where ADA (or any other code or standard) fails to address horizontal distance requirements from door to card reader.  Advice from this group, and other accessibility SMEs, outlines the intent of ADA.

  • The credential holder should not have to back up to clear the door swing.
  • Reader should be placed so that a credential holder can reach the door within the door's unlock duration.  Note: Some ACSs allow credentials to be classified to trigger an extended unlock duration.  

Following extended discussion with my architect colleague, he agreed that a mullion mounted reader was the best solution.

Again, thanks for the thoughtful comments!

In door pair applications, a mullion mount would violate Michael's (I agree) door swing rule. However on single doors, a mullion mount would work fine.  

I personally like pedestal mounts. Its also the preferred location for the ADA push pad to be on the same pedestal (the two products should be integrated). That being said, collocating the card reader with the door operator button increases the number of uses of the operator resulting in significantly more activation. I prefer to delay the ADA operator maybe 5 seconds or so, to reduce operator activations by those who don't really need it. 

In some systems you can configure the ADA holders (valid) card to operate the automatic door opener and lock while standard card holders only have the ability to control the lock. 

Yes. This is pretty common. But it assumes that all entrants have a card. Also, there are legitimate reasons why the operator needs to be available to all (i.e. getting large items though the door). Finally, I have experienced at least two clients who do not want to ask the questions necessary to "check the special needs box". 

I'm curious what you brilliant minds thought about This. What side of the door should this card reader go on?

IPVM Image

I'm a lefty so the rest of you are wrong! :)

Technically we're right.:)

The secure side :D

I am assuming the left leaf is the active one. So a mullion mount on the right frame?

Also I might try to take off the handle on the right side and stick on a blank in its spot.

According to the architect both will be active and have handles, both will have a door contact. The door on the left has an electric mortise lock, the one on the right has auto flush bolts that are extended when active door closes. Door is unlatched bolts retract when active door is opened.

This is a weird one I'm trying to wrap my head around. It may flow better on the right side, but the door on the left will be the one people go in.

To me placing the card reader on the right side makes the most sense. Regardless of being right or left-handed, a person entering that door will almost exclusively use their left hand to operate the lever. Given that the right leaf is a narrow leaf, someone can easily reach the card reader with their right hand prior to or while engaging the lever with their left.

That's what I was thinking too. This doesn't violate any codes that I'm aware of. Thanks for your feed back , Patrick!

Ouch. Auto flushbolts bad. From the glass size, the door does not appear to be rated so I would avoid auto flushbolts at all cost. I understand the need for moving large equipment in and out, but I have NEVER -- repeat NEVER-- found auto flushbolts to be successful. I have seen many times when such doors are installed to accommodate large items when in reality, the inactive leaf is used for this purpose at most a couple times a year (if that much). Meanwhile, the door will self-prop and fail to secure (particularly at the floor). This results in forced door or propped door events that will drive you crazy (not to mention the room is left unsecured).

If you have a voice in this design, I would strongly recommend that you talk the architect out of these devices with preference for an oversized door .. and only then where they are actually needed. IF YOU MUST accept flushbolts, then you may want to consider key operated manual flush bolts. Key the device so only the building manager has the key.

Would be great to see a post on what you end up with.

Good info. That's exactly what they are using it for. The handle they said is for aesthetics and "to keep greasy fingers off the door". I'll post what they end up with. Thanks Jim!

On the pictured door, assuming it is not a means of egress, I would simply use a wall mounted reader on the right side of the door. I would also consider removing the lever on the smaller door (just have an interior lever. Although I'm not sure why you would want ANY lever on this little door).