When you walk around any commercial property, and even some homes, you will likely see several keypads on the premises. These keypads can perform a wide variety of security-related functions for different types of security systems. In fact, many employees in any given business often do not know exactly which keypads do what within their building. In this post, we dive into the multi-faceted world of keypad security so you can see exactly what important functions these devices perform.

First, we’ll explain the general purpose of a keypad within the scope of a security installation. Then, we’ll focus on the specifics behind the most common keypads that we install. First, we’ll look at burglar and fire alarm keypads. This category represents possibly the most popular security keypads that you will see in any building. From there, we’ll look at a couple other types of keypad security. Specifically, we’ll see how both access control systems and locking devices can incorporate keypads. Now, let’s dive in with an explanation of the importance of security keypads in general.

The Importance of Keypads in the Security Industry

One of the most important aspects of security lies in the user experience of our products. As with many technology-related devices, the “brains” of most security products lies in computer-based controllers that stay out of sight of the user. These control panels play an important role in how your security systems function. However, customers do not generally see or interact with them. Instead, we also install keypads that customers use to input commands.

Additionally, these keypads also may have a display to relate any important updates to security customers. If we think of a security keypad in terms of a computer’s control and display system, the keypad has to play the role of both a computer’s keyboard and its monitor. Obviously, this makes it extremely important. As we’ve mentioned, we install several types of these devices. With this basic knowledge under our belt, let’s take a look at the specific types of keypad security we offer!

A Honeywell Vista Keypad

Alarm keypads such as this model by Honeywell allow you to easily control and receive alerts from your security system.

Important Forms of Keypad Security

As we’ve already brought up, we use keypads for multiple types of security. In turn, each of these security categories has a unique keypad type that we install to allow users to control their security equipment. In this section, we’ll look at some of the most prominent security keypads you will find. While each type of security brings with it dozens of potential keypad options, we will also explain how you can identify different types of keypads as well. Now, let’s begin with a look at keypads attached to burglar and fire alarm systems.

Burglar and Fire Alarm Keypads

As two of the most prominent types of commercial security, burglar and fire alarm system keypads pop up in most businesses. These keypads, such as the Honeywell model pictured, generally have a numeric element to them. Additionally, these keypads often also contain an LCD display section. This display allows a system to report trouble conditions such as alarm alerts or low sensor batteries. Additionally, they also report important events such as a loss of communication between the alarm and its monitoring station. You may also see alarm-related commands such as “Arm” and “Disarm” next to some of the buttons.

Overall, burglar and fire alarm keypads often look very similar. In fact, sometimes one control panel, and therefore one keypad, control both. However, any modern fire alarm keypad does have one unique distinguishing feature. Whenever you see a red security keypad, you can safely guess that it controls a fire alarm. National Fire Codes created by the National Fire Protection Association (or “NFPA”) require red keypads for fire alarms in order to help firefighters locate them easily. Now that we’ve seen the most common types of alarm keypads, let’s check out some other types of important keypad security.

Access Control Keypads

We install access control systems as a way to both control and track access to important sections of commercial buildings. These systems utilize electronic locking hardware that interacts with various security devices in order to allow authorized personnel to operate specific doors. For example, we often provide access control customers with proximity readers. Employees can then present electronic cards or fobs at the reader. At this point, the reader will accept the card or fob, and the door will unlock.

As an added option, business owners can also install keypads to operate their access control system. In these instances, employees enter their unique code to gain access to a door. This allows business owners to experience access control-based security without the need to distribute cards or fobs. Furthermore, it also allows them to use their access control software to remotely add access codes without having to take a trip to give someone a credential to gain entry. This proves especially helpful in cases where a contractor must access a building during non-business hours.

Access control keypads generally have a “bare-bones” appearance to them. Generally speaking, the pad will have a square numerical keypad with no additional commands or text. Often, the keypad will also have a red and green light to indicate whether someone has entered an accepted code. At this point, we’ve looked at a couple standard keypad security options that we wire back to a control panel. Next up, we’ll describe a “stadalone” keypad that does not connect to a panel of any kind!

A Yale Keypad Lever Lock

Commercial keypad locks, such as this model by Yale, generally use a lever latch, rather than a deabdolt latch, to lock the doors we install them on.

Keypad Locks

Unlike the first two types of keypads discussed here, keypad locks generally do not connect to a main control panel or any other type of equipment. Instead, these battery-operated devices provide a keyless entry point to any door without the need to purchase additional security equipment. The standalone nature of these devices often makes them fairly easy to recognize. Keypad locks come attached to the actual physical lock that they control. Therefore, the keypad section of these devices represents just a portion of the whole, with the battery pack and the lock itself taking up the rest.

The location where we install these keypads often determines the nature of the equipment itself. Overall, keypad deadbolts provide a higher level of security than keypad lever locks. For this reason, a home’s exterior doors make a great landing spot for these locks. However, most commercial applications cannot legally house deadbolts due to fire safety regulations. Therefore, commercial keypad locks usually have levers, rather than deadbolt latches, connected to them. Standalone keypad locks represent an extremely effcient way to add keypad security to any location.

Putting it All Together

We hope that this post helps clarify the variety of security-related keypads you encuonter on a regular basis. Whether you use these keypads frequently, or just see them in passing, it’s hard to go very far without encountering some of the forms of keypad security listed in this post! We certainly encourage you to contact us if the material here raises any questions for you. We help hundreds of customers design — and control — security-related products every year. Therefore, we will happily answer any inquiries you may have.

Moreover, we also invite you to take advantage of our free site survey program. We offer complimentary security audits and equipment quotes to both new and existing customers alike. This also goes for both residential and commercial customers as well. Perhaps you have some of the security described here, but wish to add even more. Or, maybe you have little to no security now and want to get started from the ground up. Either way, we are here to help. Together, we can create a full security plan to keep your property — as well as everyone on it — as safe and secure as possible!