3 Best RFID Access Control Systems & Buying Guide (2024)

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has revolutionized entry management and control in the world of security and access control.

RFID access control systems are becoming a staple for security-conscious individuals, whether for a large corporation, a small business, or even a home.

This article will explore the best RFID access control systems, how an RFID entry system works, and why it’s becoming a preferred choice for modern access control.

RFID reader module and rfid tag

Top 3 RFID Access Control Systems

1. ButterflyMX

ButterflyMX is a cutting-edge RFID access control solution revolutionizing entry management for residential and commercial properties.

By combining innovative technology with user-friendly features, ButterflyMX offers seamless access control, visitor access management, and communication capabilities in a sleek and modern package.

Key Features:

  • Mobile Access
  • Video Intercom
  • Cloud-Based Platform
  • Scalability
  • Integration Options

Pros:

  • Convenience and flexibility
  • Enhanced Security
  • Centralized cloud-based platform 
  • Integration Flexibility

Cons:

  • The initial setup costs, including hardware installation and software licensing fees, may be higher than traditional access control systems.

Have a security project?

2. SALTO Systems 

SALTO Systems is a leading provider of electronic access control solutions, offering innovative technology and versatile solutions for various applications.

Focusing on security, convenience, and scalability, SALTO’s modern access control system provides comprehensive access control solutions for commercial, institutional, and residential buildings.

Key Features:

  • RFID Technology
  • Virtual Network
  • Mobile Access and Remote Management Capabilities
  • Integration Compatibility
  • Audit Trail

Pros: 

  • Utilizes advanced RFID technology and encryption protocols
  • Offers mobile access credentials and capabilities
  • Provides detailed audit trails and reporting functionalities

Cons: 

  • Users may require some time to familiarize themselves
checklist

Salto Access Control Installation Checklist

Ensure a smooth and successful installation of your Salto access control system.

3. RFIDentiki 

RFIDentikit is a cutting-edge access control solution that provides secure and efficient entry management for various environments.

With its advanced technology and user-friendly interface, RFIDentikit offers seamless access control, visitor tracking, and security management for businesses, institutions, and residential properties.

Key Features:

  • Incorporates state-of-the-art RFID technology for secure and convenient access control
  • Provides real-time monitoring of access activity and security events
  • Customizable Settings
  • Visitor Management

Pros: 

  • Seamlessly integrates with other security systems
  • Offers flexibility to customize access rules according to specific requirements and preferences.
  • Streamlines visitor registration and secure access credentials

Cons: 

  • Initial Investment is higher

Deciphering RFID Access Control System

RFID access control refers to systems that use RFID technology to allow or deny access to a particular area or facility. The system uses RFID key cards or tags, which carry embedded microchips that communicate wirelessly with RFID readers installed at multiple access points, such as doors or gates, to manage access.

The RFID entry system offers numerous benefits over traditional access control methods, including increased security, convenience, scalability, and the ability to monitor and log access events.

RFID implantation syringe and chips on RFID tags

Technical Understanding of RFID

To truly appreciate the mechanics and capabilities of RFID access control, it’s crucial to understand the underlying technology—Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). An RFID system consists of two major components: the RFID tag and the RFID reader. Each plays a unique role in the system, communicating through the invisible language of electromagnetic fields.

The Role of the RFID Tag

An RFID tag, also known as an RFID transponder, is a tiny device that contains two crucial parts: an integrated circuit (IC) or microchip and an antenna.

The microchip stores the tag’s identification information—the unique ID that will be used to manage access control. The antenna, on the other hand, enables the tag to communicate with the RFID reader. It’s responsible for receiving incoming radio waves and returning the tag’s information to the reader.

RFID tags can be active, passive, or semi-passive. Active tags have an internal power source and can emit signals, while passive tags rely on the energy of the reader’s signal to operate.

Semi-passive tags, meanwhile, have a small battery to power the microchip but still use the reader’s signal for communication.

RFID Cloning

The Role of the RFID Reader

An RFID reader, sometimes referred to as an interrogator, is a device that communicates with RFID tags. It emits radio waves that activate the tags and then receive the information they transmit.

Readers can vary greatly in complexity and functionality, from simple devices that just read tag information to more complex ones that can process and analyze the data they receive.

RFID Frequency Bands

Another essential aspect to consider in RFID technology is the frequency band. RFID access control systems utilize three major frequency bands: Low-Frequency (LF), High-Frequency (HF), and Ultra-High-Frequency (UHF).

LF RFID Systems

These RFID access control systems operate at 125 or 134 kHz. These systems have a relatively short read range, usually a maximum of a few centimeters. They’re less susceptible to interference from metal or liquids, making them suitable for applications like animal identification or access control where the tag and reader are close.

HF RFID Systems

HF RFID systems operate at 13.56 MHz and have a moderate read range of about one meter. They’re commonly used in applications such as library book tracking or ticketing systems where a longer read range can be beneficial.

UHF RFID Systems

These RFID access systems operate between 860 to 960 MHz and offer the longest read range, up to several meters. They’re often used in supply chain management, race timing, and other applications where the ability to read tags from a distance can significantly increase efficiency.

Each frequency band has advantages and trade-offs regarding read range, data transfer rate, and susceptibility to interference. The choice between LF, HF, and UHF depends on the specific requirements of each RFID access control application.

This technical understanding provides a basis to appreciate the capabilities and potential of RFID access control as we unravel more about its applications and benefits.

RFID varieties

Types of RFID Tags

1. Active RFID tags

These tags come with a power source, usually a built-in battery, enabling them to broadcast their unique ID signal to the RFID reader continuously. This feature allows for a longer read range, often up to 100 meters or more, for access permissions. Due to their battery, active RFID tags are typically larger and more expensive than other RFID tags. They are often used in large-scale tracking applications such as vehicle or container tracking in shipping yards.

2. Passive RFID Tags

Unlike active tags, passive RFID tags do not have their power source. They get energized by the radio frequency signal emitted by the RFID reader. Once energized, they reflect an altered signal, transmitting their unique ID. Passive tags have a shorter read range, usually up to a few meters, and are significantly smaller and less expensive than active tags. These tags are commonly used in access control systems, asset tracking, and retail inventory management.

3. Semi-Passive RFID Tags

These tags represent a middle ground between active and passive tags. Like active tags, they have their power source but only communicate when prompted by an RFID reader. This type of tag is often used in specialized situations where the benefits of both tags are required.

Have a security project?

Types of RFID Readers

1. Fixed RFID Readers

These are stationary readers installed at specific points, like entrances or exits, conveyor belts, or dock doors. They are commonly used in access control and automated asset tracking systems where tagged objects pass through fixed points.

2. Handheld RFID Readers

As the name suggests, these are portable devices that a person can carry. They offer flexibility and are ideal for tasks such as inventory management, where the reader needs to be moved around to scan tags on different items.

3. Integrated RFID Readers

These sophisticated devices combine an RFID reader and an antenna into a single unit. They are often used in space-constrained environments or when a streamlined, easy-to-install solution is needed.

Understanding the nuances of RFID tags and readers is a key step in designing an RFID system that meets your needs. Whether for access control, asset tracking, or any other application, the right combination of tags and readers can make all the difference.

Applications of RFID Access Control System

1. Offices and commercial buildings: Businesses can use RFID access card door locks to secure access, gain access to certain areas, and log entry points and exit times.

2. Healthcare facilities: Hospitals and clinics can use RFID access control to secure sensitive areas, such as drug storage or patient records.

3. Residential properties: Homeowners can use an RFID door entry system for secure, keyless entry.

4. Educational institutions: Schools and universities can use RFID door entry systems to control or grant access to campus buildings and dormitories and even track attendance.

5. Government buildings: RFID access control can enhance security in sensitive government facilities.

Applications of RFID Access Control System

Benefits & Drawbacks of RFID Access Control

Benefits:

Enhanced Security

RFID access control systems and RFID door locks offer higher security than traditional lock-and-key systems.

Convenience and Efficiency

RFID key cards are easy to use and provide quick, seamless access permissions and grant access instead of physical keys

Scalability

RFID access control systems and door locks can easily be expanded to cover more doors or accommodate more users.

Audit Trails

RFID access control systems can log access events, which can be useful for security audits or investigations.

Drawbacks:

Security Risks

While RFID access control systems are generally secure, they can be vulnerable to cloning or hacking.

Cost

RFID access systems can be more expensive to install and maintain than traditional systems, especially for large installations.

Comparison with Other Systems

AspectRFID Access ControlBiometric SystemsMagnetic Stripe CardsBluetooth/NFC-based Systems
SecurityHighVery HighMediumMedium
ConvenienceHighMedium to HighMediumHigh
CostMedium to HighHighLow to MediumMedium
ScalabilityHighMediumLow to MediumHigh
ImplementationModerateComplexSimpleSimple
ReliabilityHighHighMediumMedium to High
MaintenanceLowLow to MediumLow to MediumLow to Medium

Security Measures in RFID Systems

CCTV and RFID integration for Transportation and Inventory tracking

Encryption

Encryption is one of the most common security measures used in access systems. It involves transforming the data on the RFID tag into an unreadable format using an algorithm, and this data can only be interpreted by an authorized RFID reader with the correct decryption key.

This method significantly reduces the risk of data being intercepted and misused. RFID systems ‘ two frequently used encryption standards are AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) and DES (Data Encryption Standard).

Mutual Authentication

Mutual authentication is another critical security measure for an RFID door entry system. In this process, the RFID tag and the reader authenticate each other before any data exchange occurs.

This step is crucial to prevent unauthorized readers from reading the data on an RFID tag or unauthorized tags from gaining access to a secure area.

Anti-Cloning Measures

Cloning is one of the most common security threats to RFID, where an attacker creates a duplicate of an RFID tag to gain unauthorized access. Anti-cloning measures can significantly enhance the security of an RFID system.

These include using unique identifiers that are difficult to replicate, implementing dynamic data that changes every time the tag communicates with the reader, or employing complex cryptographic algorithms.

Other Security Measures

Beyond these, several other measures can be taken to enhance security. These include using tamper-evident tags that show clear signs if someone attempts to tamper with them, incorporating kill commands that allow tags to be deactivated remotely, and shielding techniques to protect tags from unwanted scans.

Passive RFID technology, with its potential for improving access control and asset tracking, is not without its security vulnerabilities.

However, with a proper understanding of these risks and the implementation of encryption, mutual authentication, and anti-cloning measures, an RFID system can provide a high level of security, assuring users of its reliability in securing assets and controlling access.

Integration of RFID Systems with Other Technologies

RFID & GPS: Precision Tracking

RFID provides a solid foundation for tracking and identifying objects within a limited range, perfect for access control. However, when it comes to wider areas or moving objects, integrating RFID with Global Positioning System (GPS) can take tracking to a new level.

GPS provides real-time location data with a global reach, making it ideal for tracking vehicles or valuable assets across vast distances. When combined, RFID can provide granular location information and instant identification within a facility, while GPS can track the asset whenever it’s on the move outside the RFID’s range. This integration creates a powerful, precise tracking system that can provide real-time information about an asset’s location, whether in a warehouse or transit halfway across the world.

School bus rfid system

RFID & IoT: Building Smart Environments

The Internet of Things (IoT) is another technology that naturally complements RFID. IoT refers to the network of physical devices, vehicles, appliances, and other items embedded with sensors, access control software, and network connectivity, enabling them to collect and exchange data.

RFID tags and readers can become part of this network, providing the system with real-time identification and location data. For example, a smart building application’s RFID access control system can communicate with other IoT devices to automate various tasks.

FAQs

Is RFID access control secure?

Yes, RFID access control systems are generally considered secure when implemented correctly. Advanced encryption techniques and secure authentication protocols help prevent unauthorized access and protect sensitive data stored on RFID cards or key fobs.

What types of facilities can benefit from RFID access control?

RFID access control suits many facilities, including office buildings, industrial complexes, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, government offices, and residential properties. Anywhere that requires secure and controlled access can benefit from RFID access control.

Navigating the Future with RFID Access Control System

RFID access control is transforming the security landscape with its ease of use, robust security, and versatility. As technology continues to advance, it is likely to become even more secure and efficient, solidifying its place in the future of access control.

Understanding how RFID access control systems work and their potential benefits and drawbacks is crucial to making an informed decision about their applicability in your security strategy.

Contact us today for a free consultation!

Have a security project?

Do you have a security project?

About Us

Safe and Sound Security is a modern security system installation and low voltage cabling company serving residential and commercial customers for over a decade.

Do you have a
security project?

access-control-installation-hero

Are you looking to install a

Commercial Access Control System?

Get in touch with a Commercial Access Control System specialist today!