Debunking Assa Abloy President's Next Big Thing

By Brian Rhodes, Published Sep 29, 2014, 12:00am EDT

The President of one of the biggest names in access control has proclaimed the next big thing: energy reduction for electrified hardware.

Assa's leader placed access control as the next frontier for saving money on power, citing his conglomerate's line of EcoFlex locks [link no longer available] as key in making this happen.

The big problem with this claim? Most access users will only save a few bucks per year with a 'green lock'.  We examine EcoFlex and crunch the numbers in this note.

Promoting EcoFlex

Assa Abloy has touted EcoFlex's reduced electrical consumption as a win for access end users for several years. Citing the benefits of other 'green initiatives', using less power to run building systems like lighting, heat and air conditioning can save thousands per year. 

Assa says it can do the same for access with EcoFlex electrified locks. Catch the promo video below for an overview:

EcoFlex's biggest claim is that the series uses 96% Less Power than Other Locks: Because EcoFlex uses low-current solenoids, the hardware consumes much less power than the compeition.

Checking Fine Print

Digging in to the line's spec sheets [link no longer available] shows power consumption for EcoFlex looks like this:

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The two values above show how much power the unit needs when activated (500 mA peak) and how much is used while sitting dormant (15 mA) at 12 VDC.  

This means that many locks will use less than 1/4 Watt per hour, and use less than $2 of electricity per year in normal use.

The Competition

However, how inexpensive does $2 per year look when contrasted with competitor's products? Indeed competitor's locks use more power (eg: SDC Selectric 7800 uses 600 mA @12VDC)

While consuming 40X more power, the competition still only uses ~$10 per year in electricity.

Saving Pennies Per Year

While this contrast is sharp, it still is not a significant chunk of the electrical bill for the vast majority of access users. Assa even admits "(EcoFlex) Is not a big deal if you just have a couple of these in your building, but many of our customers have hundreds and hundreds of these" in use.

However, only a slim percentage of systems scale to this size. For example, our Access System Size survey shows 5% of all systems having more than 64 doors, and more than 60% having 16 or fewer.

For a 16 door system using EcoFlex locks, the total energy savings would be ~$130 per year.

Customers are not likely to spend several thousands to replace and install new EcoFlex locks for the prospect of saving (at most) a few hundred dollars per year in electricity. 

A huge end user might save tens of thousands but compared to an annual energy bill of millions and millions more spent on access control system, these savings are little more than a rounding error.

Similar Video Claims

Indeed, similar claims have been made (weakly) on the video surveillance side but have made very little progress - see: Should You Go for Green Video Surveillance? and Debunking IQinVision's Green Calculator.

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