Access Control Cabling Tutorial

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Mar 17, 2013

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. In this note, we look at the types of cables used by these systems, including 22/4, 18/6, 22/2, and where special attention should be spent when installing them.

Defining the Network

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Comments (15)

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.

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.

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.

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:

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