Turnstile Buyers Guide

A turnstile is a type of gate that makes it possible to control entry and exit into and out of a specific location. A traditional turnstile consists of a set of 3 arms that extend horizontally from a post to act as a barrier to entry. These arms rotate to allow entry or lock to restrict access. A turnstile can provide security, organize crowds, prevent losses from theft, and control access.

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A turnstile is a type of gate that makes it possible to control entry and exit into and out of a specific location. A traditional turnstile consists of a set of 3 arms that extend horizontally from a post to act as a barrier to entry. These arms rotate to allow entry or lock to restrict access. A turnstile can provide security, organize crowds, prevent losses from theft, and control access.

Turnstiles have a wide range of applications and are used in a multitude of venues. Places that commonly employ turnstiles include amusement parks, public transit systems, airports, and sporting venues. Most modern turnstiles are mechanical, allowing users to control how turnstile arms act. A turnstile can be built to spin in one direction, in the opposite direction, or in both, depending on end user needs. Most turnstiles are electronically operated – they contain an electronic locking mechanism that can remotely lock or unlock a turnstile. Many of today’s high technology turnstiles operate with optical sensors that detect objects passing through the lane.

Turnstiles come in various sizes and configurations, ranging from waist high to full height. A traditional three arm (tripod) waist high turnstile is a good choice for tight spaces or when a portable turnstile is needed. On the other end of the spectrum, a full height turnstile is a great option for high-security applications because it provides floor to ceiling protection.

Because the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990 requires equal opportunities for individuals with physical disabilities, some turnstiles and gates are designed to specifically be used by those in wheelchairs or a walker. These gates and turnstiles have wider lanes to accommodate disabled individuals.

There are other methods used to control crowds and direct traffic besides turnstiles and ADA gates. For example, stanchions (rail and posts systems) can be employed as semi-permanent to permanent crowd controlling solutions. This type of barrier is commonly used to designate lanes inside a bank lobby and are frequently used in airport terminals to organize the large crowds. Temporary stanchions consist of moveable posts with retractable belts and can be easily moved or reconfigured. For a more permanent solution, a metal post and rail system may be installed and bolted securely into the ground.

The access control industry is vast and full of many different products and systems. It is important to understand the different types of turnstiles and gates and where they work best.

Waist High turnstiles are turnstile models with three arms (hence the occasional use of the name “tripod turnstile”) that are approximately 39 inches tall. These turnstiles provide the perfect height for pedestrians to push through with ease. Multiple Waist High turnstiles can be used in series to create an entry border. Waist High turnstiles are the economical choice for a variety of applications, including use at stadiums, amusement parks, office lobbies and universities.

 

Full Height turnstiles are larger, tougher and offer greater security when compared to waist high turnstiles. These models are commonly 8 feet tall and operate similarly to a revolving door – allowing access to only one person at a time. Their secure design eliminates the possibility of individuals jumping over or crawling under them. A full height turnstile can be used for single direction or bi-directional applications and can be manufactured to custom widths. Tandem or double full height turnstiles can be used to allow simultaneous entry and exit in a side by side space saving configuration.

Optical turnstiles are security devices that control access to a building or other secure area by using infrared sensors to detect when people and objects pass through them. With optical turnstiles, users present access credentials to fixed readers on the turnstile. If the credential is valid, the turnstile allows a single user to pass through the lane. Unauthorized entrants set off lights and sound alarms to alert both the user and security personnel of an unauthorized entry.

There are two basic types of optical turnstiles:

Barrier Free Optical Turnstiles do not have a physical barrier to resist entry. The lane is open – allowing all traffic to pass freely without encountering obstacles.  Barrier-free optical turnstiles operate solely through optical detection and trigger alarms when unauthorized individuals pass through their lanes. Often, this type of turnstile will be used to count patrons passing through the lanes for monitoring attendance. Since barrier-free optical turnstiles are passive security devices without physical restraints, it is recommended to employ an attendant nearby to address alarm conditions appropriately and confront possible intruders.

Optical Turnstiles with Barriers present a physical obstacle to entry. Motorized barriers are used in conjunction with optical sensors to present a physical barrier until a valid credential is presented. Like with Barrier Free Optical Turnstiles, system users present access credentials to a reader installed in the turnstile. If the credential is valid, the barriers open. Otherwise, barriers remain closed. If a user tries to force entry or present a bad credential, lights and alarms may be triggered to alert the surrounding area of the intrusion. Once a user has passed through the lane, the barriers automatically close. Customers can choose between glass panels or metal arms for barriers.

Drop Arm Turnstiles are employed in emergency situations. Upon a signal from an alarm or during a power outage, the physical barrier of the turnstile is dropped down out of the way to allow for free entry of emergency responders and free exit of patrons.

There are two types of Drop Arm Turnstiles:

  • Waist High Turnstile can have a drop arm system for emergency passage – where the arms drop out of the way for unobstructed egress.
  • Optical Turnstile can have drop arm style barriers where the arms start parallel to the floor and drop down 90 degrees to allow passage.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits the exclusion of people with disabilities from everyday activities. Businesses with revolving turnstiles exclude people with disabilities unless accessible passage options are provided. This can be accomplished with the use of a swing gate or an optical turnstile with an ADA compliant lane width of at least 32 inches. Pedestrian turnstile systems should be designed with handicap access in mind.

Portable Turnstiles are waist high turnstiles that are made movable by adding a strong steel baseplate, stainless steel railing, and hard rubber wheels. These additions allow a turnstile to stand freely without bolting in place, give pedestrians a clearly visible passage, and move easily from one area to another. For those venues that do not require or permit turnstiles to be fixed in place, the mobility of these turnstiles is the solution for access control “on the fly”. Portable turnstiles can be wheeled in place and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Turnstiles come in a vast array of sizes, shapes, finishes, and configurations. It is important to pick the correct turnstile for your needs.

Below are important factors to consider before purchasing a turnstile:

  • What level of security is necessary?
  • What type of environment is the turnstile going to be exposed to? Indoors? Outdoors? Harsh conditions?
  • How much traffic will pass through the turnstile?
  • Should the turnstile be opened physically by the user or automated (hands-free)?
  • Are the aesthetics of the turnstile as important as its functionality?
  • Will the turnstile be equipped with accessories like readers and displays?
  • Is the turnstile to be portable or permanently fixed in place?
  • Will there be a need for handicap access?

The answer to these questions will help determine the best turnstile choice your needs.

Still unsure?  Call 203-647-9144 for Expert Advice and Assistance.

Electrically Supplied Turnstiles:

If you plan to connect a credential reader (e.g. barcode, magnetic stripe, biometric), it will be necessary to control the locking and unlocking of the turnstile with electricity. Some units, like optical turnstiles, will always require electricity to function, while others, like portables, do not. For maximum safety, most turnstiles run with low voltage power that has been “stepped down” (usually with a transformer) from the high voltage source. Never run full power to a turnstile!

Prior to purchasing a turnstile that is electrically operated, please consult with a licensed electrician about your installation plans. 

When a turnstile’s locking and unlocking functions are controlled electrically, a decision must be made about how that turnstile should act in the event of a power outage or emergency. Turnstile mechanisms can be configured to either lock or unlock automatically when power fails. A Fail Safe turnstile automatically unlocks when it loses power, allowing for free entry of life safety personnel and free exit of visitors. Fail Safe turnstiles can be integrated with a building’s alarm system. A Fail Secure turnstile automatically locks when it loses power, keeping all persons confined to respective areas.  

Fail Safe turnstile mechanisms are commonly specified for compliance with OSHA free egress guidelines.

Readers are devices that obtain information from an object like a key fob or a magnetic stripe card to determine if an individual has the proper credentials to gain access to a controlled area. Readers can be used with physical security systems like turnstiles and gates. An access control reader can read magnetic stripes, bar codes, cards, and even biometrics. In some cases, readers are linked to a time card system to log employee hours or to monitor their whereabouts. Readers are programmed in communication with a turnstile’s locking mechanism for programmed locking and unlocking of the turnstile.

In today’s technologically advanced environment, there are many options available for turnstiles. Some options include bio-metric scanners, people counters, and even bulletproof paneling. Adding options to your orders help tailor your turnstile to better fit your specific needs. While budgetary factors are important when purchasing a turnstile, the comfort and security offered to your guests must also be considered. Speak with your turnstile manufacturer regarding the options available

Summary

This buyers guide is intended to give you, the customer, an overview of the physical access control industry and what Hayward Turnstiles has to offer. Hayward has a full  line of turnstiles and gates manufactured in-house to customer specifications. Our knowledge of the industry is extensive, so for further clarification and more information, you can review out the other resources in our Learning Center or contact our sales specialists directly.