Choosing Correctly: Making the Right Turnstile Purchasing Decision

|By Drew Schwarz

At a Glance: Different Types for Different Applications

  • There are five main types of pedestrian access control products
  • Some turnstiles are a better fit for certain applications than others
  • It is important to choose the correct type of turnstile or ADA gate for your specific project needs
  • We have created a simple table to help guide your initial decision making efforts
  • No two projects are the same, so it is important to consult an access control expert before making purchasing decisions

The 5 Main Types of Turnstiles and ADA Gates

To help make the nuanced world of physical access control products more easily digestible, we have broken them down into five main categories. This list is not exhaustive and there are certain products that blur the lines between categories, but we found that categorizing in this way is the easiest to understand.

  1. Full Height Turnstiles: Full height turnstiles are physical access control solutions that provide floor to ceiling protection. They are made of durable steel and are virtually impenetrable based on their size and strong construction. These turnstiles are composed of a vertical center post with perpendicular arms protruding out in three directions surrounded by a cage to allow access to only one person at a time. Full height turnstiles are often used for high security engagements and can be found at military bases, correctional facilities, construction sites, and more.
  2. Waist High Turnstiles: Waist high turnstiles are your conventional bump and grind turnstile made famous from their heavy use in New York City subway systems. These tripod turnstiles are composed of a rectangular cabinet with three arms protruding out away from the cabinet. These arms form a barrier to entry when locked. When unlocked, they spin to allow people to pass through one at a time. Waist high turnstiles are often used for counting, ticket checking, and mid-level security and can be found at subway stations, amusement parks, sports stadiums, and more.
  3. Optical Turnstiles: Optical turnstiles are the top of the line when it comes to physical entry control products. These sophisticated turnstiles use optical beams to detect passage while a complex logic system differentiates between authorized and unauthorized entrants. Optical turnstiles can include physical barriers to further deter unauthorized entry or they can be installed without them to provide a more inviting, modern feel. Optical turnstiles are often used for high-end engagements where aesthetics are paramount and technology is welcomed. They can often be found in lavish corporate offices, in government buildings, and on college campuses.
  4. Waist High ADA Gates: Waist high ADA gates are swinging gates that sit at the same height as waist high turnstiles with ADA compliant lane widths to allow for wheelchair access. They have arms or glass barriers that swing open to grant access or stay closed to deny access. Waist high ADA gates are often paired with matching waist high turnstiles to provide a handicap accessible route into or out of a building without fully compromising entrance security. They can be found at stadiums, subway systems, amusement parks, and more.
  5. Full Height ADA Gates: Much like waist high ADA gates, full height ADA gates are often paired with full height turnstiles to provide a complete entry control solution that is both secure and handicap accessible. These gates span from floor to ceiling and often match the look of their full height turnstile counterparts. They are great for maintaining a high level of security while still complying with ADA regulations. Full height gates are often used anywhere a full height turnstile is used like at correctional facilities, construction sites, military bases, and more.

All Turnstiles Are Not Created Equal

Just like choosing the right person for the job based on their skill set and work experience, project planners should choose the right type of turnstile or ADA gate they need based on their project needs and the environment they will be installing in. Certain turnstiles and gates are great for one application but are not the best choice for others. Understanding that all turnstiles are not created equal is a crucial realization when specifying products for an installation. There are a few criteria that we can use to start narrowing down possible options for your project:

Height: Generally speaking, we can start narrowing down which turnstile or gate will be the best for a project based on the level of security required. If a project requires floor to ceiling security, your choices are narrowed down to full height turnstiles and full height gates. Contrarily, if a project calls for waist high levels of security, your choices are narrowed down to waist high turnstiles, waist high ADA gates, and optical turnstiles.

Handicap Access: Once we determine whether a full height or a waist high solution is needed, we can narrow our choices down even further. Many projects require handicap access to comply with guidelines set by the Americans with Disabilities Act that states buildings and other facilities need to provide equal access to those with physical disabilities (pedestrians using wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, etc.). Chances are, if your access control system is the only way in or out of your facility, you will need some sort of ADA gate product incorporated into your access control system to remain compliant with ADA guidelines. Even so, some facilities have alternative entryways that forego the need for ADA compliant gates, so it is best to consult with project architects before making a purchasing decision. Generally speaking, most projects employ a series of regular turnstiles paired with one ADA compliant gate to provide access to both able bodied and handicapped entrants.

Aesthetics: Some turnstiles and handicap accessible gates are designed primarily with aesthetics in mind while others are designed to be rugged and tamper proof, paying little attention to aesthetically pleasing design. Still others fall in that happy medium area on the aesthetics spectrum with an emphasis on both design and functionality. Factors like complexity of design, materials used, finish, and sophistication all play into whether a turnstile or ADA gate will be aesthetically pleasing or not. It is best to choose a product that will blend in with its surroundings. |Whether those surroundings are in a posh high rise office building or a gritty construction site, there is always a turnstile or gate with the level of aesthetics to match.

Security: One of the most important factors when specifying an access control project, level of security is dictated by many factors like turnstile/gate height, tamper-proof capabilities, physical barrier locking capabilities, and more. Products offered range from full height turnstiles that offer unparalleled security to barrier free optical turnstiles that merely sense when people pass through rather than physically stopping them. It is important to assess your security needs before choosing a turnstile or gate for your job because there are many options ranging from high to low security.

[BONUS] Location: One factor that is a lot more cut and dry than the above factors is installation location. Though this really only applies to optical turnstiles, it is still worth mentioning. Optical turnstiles contain sophisticated computers and optical sensors. This high-tech equipment makes it impossible for an optical turnstile to be installed outside. Fear not, though, as there are other similar options that can be installed outdoors like higher-end ADA gates with automatic gate closers and high-quality materials like stainless steel and glass.

Our Products Based on the Above Five Criteria

  Height Handicap Access Level of Security Level of Aesthetics Location
Full Height Turnstiles          
HT431 Full Height No High Low Universal
HT431T Full Height No High Low Universal
HT440 Full Height No High Low Universal
HT448 Full Height No High Low Universal
HT60 Full Height No High High Indoors
HT70 Full Height No High High Indoors
HT80 Full Height No High Mid-range Universal
Waist High Turnstiles          
LC100 Waist High No Mid-range Low Universal
MR100 Waist High No Mid-range Mid-range Universal
MR200 Waist High No Mid-range Mid-range Universal
MR200 Plus Waist High No Mid-range High Universal
Optical Turnstiles          
CP2000 (counting) Waist High Yes N/A High Indoor Use
CP3000 Waist High Yes Low High Indoor Use
SL1000 Variable Yes High High Universal
SL2000 Variable Yes High High Indoor Use
Drop Arm Waist High Yes Mid-range High Indoor Use
Swing Arm Waist High Yes Mid-range High Indoor Use
Glass Wing Waist High Yes Mid-range High Indoor Use
Waist High ADA Gates          
SG100 Waist High Yes Mid-range Low Universal
SG450 Waist High Yes Mid-range High Universal
SG525 Variable Yes Mid-range High Indoor Use
LC100 ADA Waist High Yes Mid-range Low Universal
MR100 ADA Waist High Yes Mid-range Mid-range Universal
MR200 ADA Waist High Yes Mid-range High Universal
Full Height ADA Gates          
HTG-M Full Height Yes Mid-range Mid-range Universal
HT336 Full Height Yes Mid-range Mid-range Universal
HT348 Full Height Yes Mid-range Mid-range Universal
HTSG Full Height Yes High High Universal

Your Project Needs Will Dictate Your Turnstile Choice

In the end, the access control product you choose boils down to the specific needs of your project. Whether you are looking to secure a high-risk facility, count entrants at your amusement park, or just provide a sophisticated way to check credentials at your upscale office building, Hayward Turnstiles has the right products for you. Our access control specialists each have over ten years of experience matching the right products for each of our customers specific needs. We understand that no project is the same, so we always take the time to consult with our customers before providing suggestions on what products they might need. This tailored approach allows our customers to get the right products the first time with no shady up sells or tactless high-pressure sales tactics.

Still unsure?

Contact our access control specialists today. They will be happy to help you choose the best turnstile or ADA compliant gate for your specific project needs.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

    Request a Quote