Turnstiles Guide

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Mar 19, 2012

Turnstiles are security devices that control pedestrian access to secured areas, designed as moving portions of fence or barricades that restrict unauthorized access. They typically have a physical barricade arm or gate that pivots freely when access is authorized. In this note, we examine full vs waist height turnstiles, sizing the number of turnstiles needed as well as prepping, installing and maintaining them.

Turnstiles are used to:

  • restrict access to and from an area
  • count people entering or leaving an area
  • checkpoint monitoring
  • prevent tailgating

As an extension of electronic access control, they permit traffic through secured areas with the use of a credential. For example turnstiles may be used to separate unsecured parking areas from a secured jobsite.

Turnstile Types 

A number of important types of turnstiles exist:

  • Full Height - These turnstiles are revolving gates that extend to a height of 7 to 10 feet. Typically, they are designed to be adjoined on both sides by fence or wall. These are the most secure form, due to the difficulty in passing around or over these units when secured. The types of turnstile are best used when monitored entry through perimeter security is required. These turnstiles cost about $6,000 USD for a single sized unit and $10,000 USD for a double sized unit.
  • Waist Height - This type of turnstile is used to restrict free access to specific areas. These units are valuable pieces of chokepoint design for controlling speed and position of pedestrian traffic. They are often mounted in groups of two or more. These units are easily jumped over, and are not appropriate for high-security applications. These units are best used to regulate traffic flow into public areas. These turnstiles cost about $4,000 USD each.
  • Optical Turnstiles - This type is a variation on the waist height turnstile that lacks any physical barrier arm. Primary feature is to count traffic by use of infrared beams. Often used with access controls to determine authority to enter an area. These turnstiles use sirens and lights to indentify unauthorized access areas. These turnstiles are best used to monitor public access for large buildings like areas or convention centers. Pricing varies with options, but a typically equipped optical turnstile cost about $5,000 USD.

Sometimes regulations dictate the inclusion of ADA/Pedestrian Gates. These are gates that permit wheelchairs or carts through a secured, swinging opening. These gates are often located adjacent to turnstiles, since they do not easily permit wheelchair travel, but when used with access controls, specific individuals can be permitted to travel through gate rather than turnstile. These gates also permit an entry point for supply carts to travel through a fence line. Including at least one of these gates in a fenceline is common, and it is prudent to locate them adjacent to handicap parking areas or load/unload areas.

Proper sizing

Sizing is the most important factor when planning turnstile placement. These considerations significantly affect the total number of turnstiles required to do the job. If the number of required turnstiles seems unrealitically high, consider staggering shift changes to permit more time for traffic to flow. 

The number of turnstiles must be 'sized' according to the traffic volumes they must handle. This sizing is a rough calculation for how many people can travel through the turnstiles in a given period of time.

Consider the following design example:

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

You have been asked to furnish a quote for the number of turnstiles at the front employee entrance to a manufacturing plant. Full height turnstiles will be installed at the main fence line separating the parking lot from the plant building. There are 2,000 employees arriving or leaving work during this change, and 15 minutes have been set aside for this exchange of workers. How many turnstiles should be quoted for this job?

Answer: The resulting calculation determines that 15 turnstiles are required to handle 2000 people in 15 minutes. A typical full-height turnstile is designed to accomodate 450 - 500 per hour. This is an average pass through rate of 9 people per turnstile, per minute. If 2000 people must flow through turnstiles during a shift change, consider the time to handle that volume is limited to 15 minutes.

(Total Number of People) / ((Flow through turnstile per min) * (Number of mins available)) = (Number of Turnstiles)

(2000 people) / ((9 people per minute) * (15 minutes)) = (14.8 turnstiles)

Since turnstiles are furnished in 'single' and 'double' sized units, including either one or two turnstiles, the furnishing a quote for 16 turnstile (or 8 doubles) is prudent. Consider oversizing the number of turnstiles for the occasion that a unit is out of service. 

Site Prep

Installing turnstiles often require concrete pad preparation and fence cuts. This work should be carefully planned and communicated, as a gap in fencing may be present for an extended period of time. Security should be notified of these gaps, and extra supervision or policing of the area may be required until turnstiles are installed. Dirt work or setting concrete forms may be required

Turnstiles are not typically low-voltage machines and installation work must be coordianted with an electrician. This can be an especially tricky part of the job considering that turnstiles are often located in the elements and on distant fencelines. Consider the turnstile might also require extended data runs, especially if turnstile integrations will support access control functions.

Installation

Where possible, this equipment should be 'drop shipped' directly to the installation site. Depending on the type and number of turnstiles to be installed, the equipment weight may measure several thousand pounds. Due to bulk and weight, a material lift may be required to move and install this equipment. Installation of a turnstile should be considered a 'two-man' job, due to the unweildy bulk of these units.

Maintenance

Turnstiles typically see high use, and are often located outside in harsh weather. As a result, some periodic maintenance should be planned to service these machines. Weather proofing electronic equipment and keeping mechanical parts lubricated and adjusted should be considered an ongoing part of operating these units.

5 reports cite this report:

Forced Entry / Duress Access Tutorial on May 17, 2018
Even though access control normally keeps people safe, tragedies have revealed a significant issue. If users are forced to unlock doors for...
Door Operators Access Control Tutorial on Dec 05, 2016
Doors equipped with door operators, specialty devices that automate opening and closing, tend to be quite complex. The mechanisms needed to...
Solutions to 5 Common Access Control Problems on Nov 21, 2016
Effective security is more than just good equipment. In fact, thousands of dollars in electronic access control can be wasted if they are not used...
Tailgating - Access Control Tutorial on Aug 25, 2016
Despite costing thousands of dollars per door, electronic access control systems are vulnerable to an easy exploit called 'tailgating'. Unless this...
Charlie Hebdo Forced Entrance and Access Control Measures on Feb 09, 2015
Electronic Access Control usually reassures people they are safe, but a recent tragedy in France reveals a big flaw. During the massacre at...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Cybersecurity for IP Video Surveillance Guide on May 18, 2018
Keeping surveillance networks secure can be a daunting task, but there are several methods that can greatly reduce risk, especially when used in...
Installing Cameras in Plenums Tutorial on May 15, 2018
There is often confusion about plenum ceilings, with misinformation about what is required when running cables through them and mounting cameras...
Measuring For Security Installation Guide on May 15, 2018
Accurate measurement is a fundamental skill, yet many installers do not know how to do it. Using these tools are a key skill needed for security...
Genetec Clearance Face Detection / Redaction Test on May 14, 2018
Privacy regulations such as GDPR (EU Public Privacy), HIPAA (US Medical Privacy), and FERPA (US Student Privacy) are driving video surveillance...
Access Visitor Management Systems Guide on May 11, 2018
"Who are you, and why are you here?" Facilities that implement Visitor Management Systems hope they never need to ask that question to anyone,...
Access Control Card Printers Guide on May 03, 2018
Card printers are a core component of professional access control systems, often used as photos IDs and prominently displayed. Modern badges put...
IP Network Hardware for Surveillance Guide on May 02, 2018
Video surveillance systems depend on IP networking equipment. In this guide, we explain the key pieces of equipment and features, explaining where...
Access Control Levels and Schedules Tutorial on May 01, 2018
Configuring access levels and setting up schedules is central to maintaining facility security. Many people may need to enter areas but most do not...
Amazon Enters Home Security Services on Apr 26, 2018
Move over ADT? It is certainly what investors have feared for ADT, especially since Amazon acquired Ring. [Update: We spoke with Amazon and have...
Favorite Access Control Manufacturers 2018 on Apr 26, 2018
150+ Integrators told IPVM "What is your favorite access control management software/system? Why? Unlike the 2016 access favorites where a group...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Dahua Intrusion Analytics And VMD Tested on May 21, 2018
Dahua ships basic analytics on practically all their cameras, ranging from low cost to high end. To see how these analytics work in real world...
Exacq Improving Technical Support, Responding To Integrator Complaints on May 21, 2018
Exacq had been a long-term favorite of integrators, but since their 2014 Tyco acquisition, Exacq has fallen in IPVM integrator studies (though...
Best Manufacturer Technical Support 2018 on May 21, 2018
While 5 manufacturers made the worst technical support 2018 list, only 3 stood out as providing the best technical support to 190+ integrators in...
Stealth / UCIT - Remote Video Monitoring Provider Profile on May 18, 2018
Can 2 remote video monitoring companies, Stealth Monitoring from the US and UCIT from Canada combine to impact the market and compete in a changing...
Cybersecurity for IP Video Surveillance Guide on May 18, 2018
Keeping surveillance networks secure can be a daunting task, but there are several methods that can greatly reduce risk, especially when used in...
Forced Entry / Duress Access Tutorial on May 17, 2018
Even though access control normally keeps people safe, tragedies have revealed a significant issue. If users are forced to unlock doors for...
ADT Stock Drops 50% Since IPO on May 17, 2018
It has been a brutal 4 months for ADT. They first expected to IPO at ~$18. They IPOed at $14, dropping immediately to $12.39 And now, not even...
Dahua 12MP Fisheye Camera Tested (NK8BR4) on May 16, 2018
Continuing our coverage of 12MP sensor fisheye cameras, we bought and tested the Dahua NK8BR4, examining: Default vs. Optimized...
Worst Manufacturer Technical Support 2018 on May 16, 2018
5 manufacturers stood out as providing the worst technical support to 190+ integrators in new IPVM results. These integrators answered: In the...
Installing Cameras in Plenums Tutorial on May 15, 2018
There is often confusion about plenum ceilings, with misinformation about what is required when running cables through them and mounting cameras...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact