Access Control Cabling Tutorial

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Jan 15, 2019

Access Control is only as reliable as its cables. While this aspect lacks the sexiness of other components, it remains a vital part of every system.

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Comments (29)

Brian, another great article.

On the access control systems that I design, I usually specify an audible sounder on the inside of each card reader door. This sounder is connected to an auxiliary output on the controller and is typically programmed to sound on "door forced" and "door propped" conditions. I find it very helpful to provide some type of feedback to the users at the door when they have done something wrong to discourage improper behavior.

This sounder requires an additional pair of wires, which I usually add to the cable going to the RTE motion detector, so I make this a 22/6 rather than a 22/4.

If you use the right REX motion the sounder is built in and you can simply use the spare pair from the lock cable. This is assume a door bundle. If an installer is still running separate cables to every door then I feel sorry for the installer. Makes keeping everything straight much harder. I didn't like the bundles at first years ago but these days the bundled cable is extremely easy to pull and take apart.

here in NYC there's no such thing as a audible sounder. as of today 02/06/19, they got separate Audio and Video systems been installed right next to the ACP's.

All WeWork sites in NYC follow this same systems design from the blueprints to the Letter.

Rather than specifying which cable to use where, we selected one factory bundled cable (SmartWire) that meets the needs for every door and plenum and in a specific color. The micromanagement of cable decisions and changes isn't worth the potential tiny savings vs. potential re-runs. It is also easier for the construction standards document and bulk purchasing.

Here in NYC we call it Composite cable. color pattern is not really important as this composite cable I'm describing, already labels each specific cable for its intended purpose.

One thing you could do instead of a sounder is using the reader beeper. I can onyl speak for Keyscan as it's the product I use, but it allows you to use the beeper (blue wire on kprox readers) to beep on door held open, and forced I believe.

Another thing is a RTE motion with a built in sounder, doesn't save on cabling per say, but one less device on the wall.

Technically voltage and required wire size are inversely related for a given wattage.

Aperage and required wire gague (AWG) are inversely related, though can vary based on material, insulator jacket, strands, indoor/outdoor, temperature, etc.

For those who use wire size in millimeters or cmil or kcmil, Aperage and wire size are directly related.

Maximum voltage for a wire is normally provided by the manufacturer or the wire and is loosely connected to the wire size. A 22 AWG can carry 100V, though only at a small current. Most household wiring used at 120 or 240V AC RMS is rated for 600V for flexability and to carry peak voltage.

Michael is getting at the fact that wire guage (AWG) measurements are inversely related to the actual size of the wire (14 is smaller than 12, etc). I have heard many an electrician say "14 awg or higher" when what they mean is that "the smallest wire allowed is 14 awg". I encourage employees to use "heavier" or "lighter" to describe wire size, as this avoids confusion.

Many strikes and other equipment are available with dual voltage inputs, 12V or 24V. Generally, the strike will require about half as many amps at 24V as it does at 12V (this is not always true - you need to verify). My point was that you can often get away with a smaller wire if you choose to use the higher voltage.

Useful Article Brain, Thanks :)

Great article. I know this is covered in another article but there are other aspect to consider aside from the drain in the bundle cable, the effect of the power running allong data cable and how twisted are the pairs. For voltage, the gauge is probably the most important aspect but for data it is more sensitive to the environment. I have seen installation with Cat5 cable for the I/Os and the reader interface that "worked" but is there really a cost saving if you need to rewire the door or some components if the adequate cable wasn't selected initially. I would doubt so. The bottom line is that manufacturer's recommendations shouldn't be overlooked.

Talking about cabling as well, is how neat is the cabling, common color coding from end to end, how properly skinned are the wires and how well in place they are in the terminal blocks as this would not only affect the quality of the communication but also make it harder to troubleshoot wiring issues.

Great read Brian, so much to consider.

Our company runs 22-6,18-2,22-8 as our standard access bundle. The 22-6 is sometimes pulled just as a spare for future use when the customer decides something different or more is needed.

That's a great overview!

How do you fish cable through a frame as pictured? Any tips?

Usually hollow aluminum store front frames allow for a fishrod to be run inside them. If you can drill down to insert wires from the top, you often can run a hooked rod up from the strike or reader location and pull it down.

From you picture the inexperienced installer may think you are simply drilling from the top frame straight down into the door where the strike is. With the picture you have you would need some type of wire transfer to get the wire into the door frame then take across the top of the door and down into the strike.

You are correct! That image will be replaced, right now it makes no sense. Thanks for bringing that up.

Wiring that door frame properly is an entire article on it's own to explain how to do it properly and not shatter the glass. Of course I have never shattered any glass in my time in the field. ­čśë

Another con with above composite cable is the extra time needed to separate the different jackets. At minimum, often one needs to separate enough to accommodate for differing device locations, like rex, reader, lock, door contacts etc... It really is cumbersome and time consuming.

Pay the extra cost for better composite bundled cable like below, and you will have happier and more efficient techs at minimum, and probably come out ahead on labor costs:

For those not familiar with Belden Banana Peel:

So the Card Reader reference data for this appears to all be about Wiegand, do you have any data and references to share on OSDPv2 (RS-485) since that is current "NextGen" solution?

What do the Reader Manufactures like WaveLynx (recent review) and cable manufactures recommend? I have been back and forth with manufactures and designers from our VAR on what the "correct" approach is. Curious is anyone has a composite cable to support OSDPv2 available yet.

I would think you should be able to use the reader cable inside the bundle. The cable is shielded and typically has some type of twist to it. Over the years I have had many manufacturers say the cable I have ran isn't to the exact spec. So you run the exact cable they spec and the part still doesn't work. Then the manufacturer says yeah our product is faulty.

Per HID the OSDP cable should be: 4 conductor Twisted Pair, Over-All Shield Belden 3107A or equivalent

With that said, from conversations with them and other manufacturers, the hardware is being designed to work up to 500 feet on old Wiegand wire but that is "unofficial". From my experience, if the wiring is good, the Wiegand wiring works fine. If the wiring is questionable, you may need to add a pull up resistor to clean up the signal.

Brian I am assuming the panel work in the picture above was from your days in the field?

Actually more images like that would really be good for those who have trouble wiring up a panel, have never wired up a panel and those who think they can but really can't. Of course sometimes we really can't afford someone's to the 9's panel work.

I took the access control class at IPVM long time ago when I had to support this stuff. I found the class very hard to learn from. I am back having to support and take care of cameras and access control at house of worship.

I love these articles because I learn something new. I wished they were longer more details. AND videos are included. That would allow newbie or someone like me who has hard time understanding this stuff more help then what I have found so far.

Good basic summary tutorial !!

Nowadays this company called S2 security is really taking off on some of big projects here in NYC you should definitely do a background or feature review on them. !!!!

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