What Happens to Access Control System in Case of Power Cut ?

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An acceess control system provides  the confidence and peace of mind that their property is fully secured from the intruders or unwanted element and they can control the access to it at their will.

An access control system consists of electronic component and software which givens the convenience of automation and ease of use . As with every system , it also has its pitfall and leave us with limited options in case of power outage.

Even with having all arrangement  the power outages are inevitable .There is a slew of things that can cause power outages such as equipment failures, severe storms, tree limbs falling on power lines or other failures caused by humans or animals.

These can  cause some serious disruption to electrical systems. Luckily, there are some components built into access control systems that can help save the day in the case of a power outage.

An Access Control System comprise of the Main Panel, Reader (Some time reader and panel are in same unit) and Electronic Lock.

Electronic Locks: Electronic Lock is the component which is direct responsible for providing and not providing access through a door.  Locked and unlocked with an electrical current, electronic locks can be set up to respond in one of two ways during a power outage.


We can set electronic lock on fail safe mode and it becomes unlocked when there is a power outage. In this case the lock  usages the electric current to keep the door locked and when power is interrupted the door becomes unlocked. This mode is called FAIL SAFE as it is safe for the people and not for the property.  This setup is advantageous because it allows workers and visitors to safely exit the building in times of emergency.

However, with the loss of power, the building becomes insecure and more susceptible to crime.

Mostly fail safe locks are used for main entry points like office doors or lobby access doors. A popular use for this application are maglocks which – by design – require power to operate.


A fail-secure lock is opposite to the fail-safe lock and it closes and restrict entry in the case of power outages  as it uses the electrical current to retract the lock so doors remain in the locked position in the event of an electrical outage. That is why it is called Fail-Secure as it secures the building in case of power failure but is not ideal for larger, occupied buildings as it may impede evacuation in the case of an emergency.

Mostly Fail-Secure locks are used for IT/ Server rooms and other highly sensitive areas. However because the door keeps being locked in emergencies, typically it will be usable with a mechanical override, such as a regular key. We keep mechanical override keys with very few people  who limits the use and are  key people  over there, as these mechanical override does not leave any electronic traces.

Fail secure locks are used for fire related doors or staircase (stairwell) doors. The reason is that in case of fire, those doors should remain closed to seal off a portion of the space and help reduce spreading of the fire.

It is very important to consider the power outage scenario and its  effect  when setting up access control system . We should calculate the amount of power current necessary to operate the access controlled doors release system and to keep back up of that much power specially for the system in the even of a power failure.

Make a Plan

It is necessary to have a well thought plan in case of power outage with the responsibility of the employees clearly mentioned and should be shared with every employees . In case of fail secure locks , the mechanical override keys should be handy with the designated persons.

Prepare for the Worst

Power outage can occur due to wide range of things but in any case you have to be prepared for the worst to keep your business running without much impact. Be prepared for the long power cut as we can not predict its duration. These kinds of security plans can come included with a proposed security solution , it  may be use mix of electronic & manual security at your office. In most of the modern day offices , there are power backup provided , then also be prepared or brief as well as prolonged power failure.