Best Access Control Systems

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With any physical work space, from storage areas to job sites to offices, there are often areas where access has to be restricted to some people. Whether you’re protecting inventory in a warehouse or limitating access to elevator floors in your building, access control systems make it easy to set, automate, and change access permission to rooms, buildings, and more. We found Kisi to be the best access control system for most people’s needs because of its simple, yet powerful touchless smartphone access control solution.

The Best Access Control System for Most

Kisi Logo


Best for Most

Industry-leading access control system for touchless access via smartphones. Simply tap your phone for instant access to your building, elevator floors, and any other controlled areas. Includes remote lock management, video snapshots, scheduled locks and unlocks, and visitor management features.

Most people carry their smartphones with them all the time. So, turning that device into a digital key is a no-brainer. While it may sound like a complicated system, Kisi makes implementing touchless smartphone access systems easier than ever with hardware that’s ready to go out of the box, complete with a full notification system so you can keep eyes on your business, even when you’re not around. Depending on your current hardware, it may even fit over your existing locks.

Whether you already have existing hardware in place or not, Kisi plays well with virtually every type of access point, making it a great choice for most businesses.

The 7 Best Access Control System Options to Consider:

  1. Kisi — Best access control system for most
  2. Envoy — Best for visitor management
  3. Johnson Controls — Best for multisite organizations
  4. HID Global — Best for advanced security
  5. ISONAS — Best for minimal hardware requirements
  6. Vanderbilt Industries — Best industry-specific access control solutions
  7. Honeywell Access Control — Best for commercial security

When it Makes Sense to Invest Into an Access Control System

Any business with a physical location can benefit from implementing access control. Simple solutions modernize keys and eliminate them altogether. And even at this essential level, they keep employees, customers, and visitors where they’re supposed to be.

However, access control systems come in all shapes and sizes from simple key replacements to robust solutions for businesses with hundreds of locations across the country and everything in between.

Whether you’re handling sensitive information, want to restrict people from roaming around your building unattended, want to eliminate unnecessary distractions throughout the day, are tired of using a traditional key, or need security measures in place for safety reasons, there’s a control access solution to match your needs.

While it’s great for military buildings, police headquarters, medical facilities, and government institutions, access control use cases go beyond those with strict security requirements.

Even if you’re just tired of locking yourself out or forgetting your work keys at home, an access control system is an affordable way to modernize business security.

They’re even useful for other scenarios, like hotels, schools, offices, corporate headquarters, and more. 

#1 – Kisi — The Best Access Control System for Most

Kisi Logo


Best for Most

Industry-leading access control system for touchless access via smartphones. Simply tap your phone for instant access to your building, elevator floors, and any other controlled areas. Includes remote lock management, video snapshots, scheduled locks and unlocks, and visitor management features.

Kisi is a cloud-based access control system that launched in 2012. Since then, it has quickly become an incredibly popular and modern way for businesses to maintain physical security company-wide.

Like most access control systems, Kisi offers solutions that include key fobs and physical cards. But it’s best known for its smartphone touchless access control system. It’s modern, easy, and designed to work with just about every type of door.

Since most people have their phones on them all the time, the touchless phone system is incredibly convenient. Employees won’t have to worry about carrying around an extra fob or plastic card everywhere they go nor do they have to worry about losing something so small. 

There are two setups, including a standalone option with a Kisi reader at each entry point that only requires your team to tap their phone and go. All of Kisi’s readers are tamper-proof and connected via IP for secure IT-grade equipment without needing an IT team to manage them.

The other option lets users unlock doors through the mobile app and doesn’t require a Kisi reader. It’s more cost-effective than the standalone option and is perfect for smaller businesses.

Kisi even has advanced access control solutions for contactless elevator access and thermal scanning integrations so you can rest assured knowing your business is secure at all times.

With Kisi’s access control systems, you also get:

  • Multiple credentialing levels
  • Remote lock management from the admin dashboard
  • Scheduled locks and unlocks
  • Single-click lockdown mode
  • Visitor management features and temporary access tools
  • Automatic video snapshots
  • Professional installation

It also seamlessly integrates with security cameras to take snapshots of entries and further protect your physical space when you’re away.

Contact the Kisi sales team for a free quote and to sign up for a free 30-day trial today!

#2 – Envoy — The Best for Visitor Management

Envoy Logo


Best for Visitor Management

Envoy is specifically designed for traditional office spaces with a strong focus on visitor management. Includes staff notifications when visitors arrive, pre-registration forms, custom sign-in workflows, digital document scanning, badge printing capabilities, and pre-visit screenings so you can enjoy peace of mind.

Envoy is a security solution designed for traditional office spaces with numerous access control products, including solutions for visitor management, desk reservations, delivery management, and room management. They all work in tandem to create the ultimate access control solution.

However, the visitor management solution is incredibly powerful on its own, making it a great choice for traditional office environments that get a lot of visitors.

It comes with everything you need to ensure you always know who’s coming and going, when they’re arriving, and why they’re visiting in the first place.

One of Envoy’s newest features is a visitor questionnaire designed to help stop the spread of COVID-19. You can even set up automated surveys that deny access to users based on their answers. For example, if someone has been sick in the past 14 days, you can deny them access automatically.

It also supports touchless sign-ins to promote social distancing.

Envoy’s visitor management system is a modern alternative to hand-written badges and manually tracking down employees when a guest arrives. Your staff will receive an instant notification whenever a visitor comes to see them. You can even give each visitor custom clearance levels depending on the purpose of their visit.

On top of that, you can screen visitors based on their appearance in internal or external watch lists.

You can even send upcoming visitors directions to your office, a formal invitation, and a post-visit survey to gather continuous data on how to improve the visiting experience.

Some of the key visitor access management features include:

  • Custom sign-in flows
  • Pre-registration forms
  • Visitor screening
  • Digital document scanning (NDAs, waivers, etc.)
  • Badge printing
  • Visitor photo capture

There are also dozens of integrations, including directory services, legal document platforms, HR and recruiting, parking management, rooms, and wi-fi providers.

Despite its lack of advanced security features, you can seamlessly integrate your new visitor management platform into your existing workflows with minimal changes to your processes.

On higher tiers, you can even put your brand front and center with a white-labeled visitor management experience.

Paid plans start at $99 per location per month for up to 50 employees, but there’s also a free plan with limited features, which is an excellent way to try it before you invest.

#3 – Johnson Controls — The Best for Multisite Organizations

Johnson Controls Logo

Johnson Controls

Best for Multisite Organizations

Johnson Controls access control system is built to handle the complex nature of user access for large businesses with multiple business locations, including biometric, managed, hosted, and physical access solutions. Perfect for government organizations, commercial enterprises, and more.

Johnson Controls has been around since 1885. It’s a global leader in the business security space., making it an excellent choice for more complex, multi-site access control. Regardless of the scale you’re looking for, Johnson Controls has the experience and equipment to make it happen.

With an extensive portfolio of products, software, technology, and services in the business space—including access control systems, you get everything you need in one place.

While it’ll work just fine for smaller access control solutions, you’ll likely find better pricing elsewhere. But for large-scale, multi-location systems that work seamlessly across the country (or globe), you’ll want Johnson Control’s expertise and know-how.

Whether you’re a government organization, commercial enterprise, or another type of business with complex needs, you can choose from a wide selection of equipment and services.

From protecting safes and vaults, drive-up entryways, thousands of windows and doors, and everything in between, Johnson Controls specializes in custom systems so you can rest easy knowing you’re getting exactly what you need. You can even add visitor access management and employee credentialing to your system too.

They offer every type of access control system that you could possibly imagine. Options include:

  • Electronic access control
  • Physical access control
  • Hosted access control
  • Managed access control
  • Biometrics access control

The cloud-based hosted access control system is ideal for managing multiple facilities. They have many different options to choose from, so you’ll need to consult with a security expert at Johnson Controls to determine the best option for your business.

#4 – HID Global — The Best for Advanced Security

HID Logo

HID Global

Best for Advanced Security

With millions of users spanning 100+ countries, HID Global is known for its high-quality advanced security software. It offers the most advanced access control solutions available on the market, including everything you need to secure people, resources, and assets in a wide range of use cases.

If you have particularly complex security needs for physical or digital locations, HID Global is a powerhouse in the security industry that’s up to the challenge of delivering even the most complicated access control solutions. There’s a reason millions of people trust HID Global—it knows what it’s doing and does it well.

From protecting resources and assets to keeping your team safe, it offers an unprecedented level of peace of mind, even if your needs are complex and other security solutions have turned you away.

HID Global provides one of the most advanced access control solutions on the market today. It’s currently used in industries like government, defense, healthcare, banking, education, transportation, and more.

However, it takes security a step further than just protecting your team. It also helps protect visitors and contractors while giving you real-time insight into what’s happening. You can even use it to help with const-control in certain areas of your business.

Cloud access control is another area where HID Global shines. It takes over where most other security solutions stop to protect your digital assets and ensure compliance with strict industry regulations.

Here’s a closer look at some of HID Global’s standout access control features:

  • Biometric authentication
  • Visitor management solutions
  • Real-time location reports of people and assets throughout the organization
  • Secure access using smartphones, tablets, and wearable technology
  • Multi-factor PKI (2+ credentials)
  • Authentication access for IT systems

HID Global has access control solutions compliant with U.S. Federal Government FICAM and FIPS 201 standards. These systems are ideal for highly sensitive facilities with advanced security needs. 

They do not list their pricing publicly and have a significant number of solutions available, so you’ll need to contact HID Global to get started and learn more.

#5 – ISONAS — Best Access Control System With Minimal Hardware Requirements



Best ACS with Minimal Hardware

Looking for access control without installing a ton of equipment? ISONAS offers IP access control that requires minimal hardware. To date, it’s provided more than 50,000+ control readers spanning dozens of industries. Based on your existing network, it's a cost-effective and intuitive solution for small businesses.

If you’re looking for an access control solution that doesn’t require an entire redesign or reinstallation of hundreds or thousands of pieces of hardware, ISONAS is the way to go. Rather than forcing you to install new hardware or update existing infrastructure, it focuses on IP access control in the cloud using your existing network.

From education and healthcare to government facilities, businesses renting an office space, and multi-tenant buildings, it’s a great choice for any business that doesn’t want to or isn’t able to install hefty hardware.

Their system relies on your existing network instead of wiring on control panels located at every door. These minimal hardware requirements are a cost-effective solution for smaller businesses. Installation is simple, and the web-based training option is another way to keep costs low.

ISONAS has a wide selection of tools for access control, including:

  • Proximity badge cards
  • Proximity key fobs
  • Proximity cap tags
  • Pure mobile credentialing
  • TruCredential badge printing integration
  • Integrations with video management systems

Overall, ISONAS isn’t as comprehensive as some of the more advanced access control systems on the market today, but it’s a simple and low-cost solution for smaller companies. 

Contact the ISONAS sales team through their website for a quote.

#6 – Vanderbilt Industries — Best Industry-Specific Access Control Solutions

Vanderbilt Logo

Vanderbilt Industries

Best for Industry-Specific Solutions

Vanderbilt offers a massive range of access control hardware, door modules, signal modules, and credentialing systems. Browse the most expansive offering of industry-specific solutions across 12+ industries with completely custom access control solutions available.

Vanderbilt Industries is another leader in the business security space. They offer solutions for access control, video management, and intrusion detection. 

These systems can be used for an extensive range of use cases. From securing over 200 doors at a Coca-Cola bottling plant to a custom solution at The Ritz London, Vanderbilt Industries can do it all.

Vanderbilt Industries has all of the software and hardware you could possibly need to secure your facilities. This includes controllers, door modules, signal modules, credentialing systems, standalone systems, and more. 

Most access control systems can accommodate varying business types. But Vanderbilt Industries has one of the most extensive lists of supported industries on the market today, including:

  • Pharmaceutical
  • Education
  • Leisure and tourism
  • Corporate
  • Transportation
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Healthcare
  • Government
  • Banking
  • Civil Defense

Even if you don’t see your sector on the list, contact Vanderbilt Industries, and they can help you configure a customized access control solution. 

#7 – Honeywell Access Control — The Best for Commercial Security

Honeywell Logo


Best for Commercial Security

Honeywell is a household name, known for everything from aerospace and safety to productivity and small home appliances. It also offers various security products, including access control for commercial buildings. Honeywell is incredibly popular, securing more than 10 million buildings around the world.

Honeywell is an international conglomerate. From aerospace to safety and productivity solutions, Honeywell has an extensive list of product and service offerings. 

They’ve been around for more than a century, and their technology can be found in more than 10 million buildings worldwide. 

Access control solutions fall within the commercial security subset of Honeywell’s services. 

They offer dozens of solutions within the access control category. Honeywell has different software and hardware to accommodate the needs of varying business types. These systems are ideal for large commercial buildings and corporate offices. 

Examples of these solutions include:

  • Integrated security software
  • Managed access control
  • Single door controllers
  • Hybrid access control panels
  • Visitor management solutions
  • Proximity readers
  • Magnetic stripe readers
  • Bar code readers
  • Biometric readers

Honeywell can also accommodate your unique credentialing needs for access control.

Overall, this is one of the most reliable access control solutions on the market today. Trusting your business security to an industry leader with 100+ years of experience is never a bad idea.

Methodology For Choosing The Best Access Control Systems

Certain factors must be evaluated when you’re shopping around for an access control system. This is the methodology we used to narrow down the top picks in this guide. Use these considerations to help narrow down your options and weigh their importance according to your personal needs. 

Type of Access Control System

Access control systems come in all different shapes and sizes. Generally speaking, these solutions can be segmented into four main categories:

  • Local — On-site access control systems are hosted on local servers. These are typically managed by an in-house IT team. Access control providers use a security integration vendor to manage software updates and maintenance.
  • Cloud — Cloud-based access control systems are the most popular and easiest to use. Since everything is hosted in the cloud, the centralized management system can be accessed and controlled from anywhere. You won’t have to worry about on-site servers, additional hardware, or physical maintenance. 
  • IoT — An Internet of things control system connects with “smart” machines. These systems connect with a wireless network to securely open and restrict access to doors. 
  • Mobile — Instead of using a physical access card, authorized users can enter doors using smartphones, tablets, and wearable technology. 

Each solution has advantages and drawbacks. The best option for your business will depend largely on your needs and infrastructure. But for the most part, cloud systems are the most user-friendly and easiest to scale. Outside of type, here are other things to consider when choosing access control systems.

Installation and Support

The vast majority of access control systems require professional installation. This can be handled by the provider directly or a third-party dealer. 

Costs associated with installation vary from one system to another. Some providers can handle an unlimited number of doors. Others have capacities for each control panel. Make sure you understand these requirements ahead of time, as you might have to install additional control panels to accommodate the access control system. 

In a perfect world, the system will run without any issues after the installation. But what happens if you have a problem or a card reader fails? 

Find out what type of support the provider offers for future on-site visits beyond the initial installation. How soon will they resolve the problem? Will this cost you extra money? Or is it covered with your plan? How long do they provide support?

Credentialing and Security

Security is obviously a top priority when evaluating access control systems. Avoid providers that are using outdated technology. Beyond basic access control, the best systems include alarms, video surveillance integration, and lockdown modes during repeated attempts to access a secure area. 

Access control systems using proprietary technology are less vulnerable to breaches compared to open source solutions. 

You should have different options for managing credentials. Some businesses can even provide multi-credential authentication for certain access levels. 

Depending on the areas you’re restricting, you may want to choose an access control system with advanced security features. For example, some systems have alarms if a door is propped open for too long. 

You should be able to implement rules for specific scenarios associated with emergencies. The best systems allow you to program doors to automatically lock or unlock in the event of a fire or a break-in. 

For facilities that commonly have guests or visitors, make sure the system allows for temporary guest credentialing. 

Administrative and Reporting Tools

Access control reports allow managers and administrators to observe how employees and other users move throughout a building. You’ll be able to see who enters a particular door at an exact time.

These reports are extremely useful if you ever need to investigate suspicious activity. You can go back and see exactly who was in a specific area during the time of an incident. 

The best access control systems have tons of real-time information and detailed reports for admins. Ensure that reports are stored indefinitely, so you can refer to them months or potentially years down the road if needed. 

Kisi Logo


Best for Most

Industry-leading access control system for touchless access via smartphones. Simply tap your phone for instant access to your building, elevator floors, and any other controlled areas. Includes remote lock management, video snapshots, scheduled locks and unlocks, and visitor management features.


Which access control system is the best? It depends on what you’re looking for.

The systems reviewed above include something for everyone. We recommend Kisi for businesses that want to enable a smartphone-based access control solution. Envoy has unique visitor management systems, and Johnson Controls is perfect for multisite organizations. ISONAS is a simple and cost-effective option for smaller companies.

If you have advanced security needs, check out HID Global, Vanderbilt Industries, or Honeywell Access Control. 

Regardless of your circumstances, you can use this guide to find the best access control system for your business. 

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