The Complete Guide to Types & Styles of Turnstiles

With numerous types and styles of turnstiles available, choosing the right one can be challenging. This comprehensive guide will cover the differences between the various styles and their ideal applications. By understanding the unique features and functionalities of each type, organizations and businesses can determine most suitable option tailored to their access control needs. Whether prioritizing maximum security, efficient pedestrian flow, or aesthetic appeal, this guide will help you in selecting the optimal turnstile solution.

Mechanical Turnstiles

Access control turnstiles can be categorized into two main types: mechanical and optical turnstiles. Each type has various styles of turnstiles. When we mention “type”, we’re describing how the turnstile operates. Mechanical turnstiles are characterized by rotating arms or barriers that users must push or rotate to pass through. After passage, the arms automatically reset to their original position, preventing the next person from entering without proper authorization.

Full-Height Turnstiles

Full-height turnstiles offer the most security out of all the styles because their barriers extend from floor to ceiling, preventing individuals from bypassing them by jumping over or crawling under. The barriers are typically constructed from durable materials like stainless steel, making them resistant to tampering and vandalism. However, these turnstiles may present some challenges to those who use wheelchairs or have mobility impairments, as the openings cannot be adjusted to be wider and operation requires manual effort to push the barriers. Full-height turnstiles are most suitable for locations that require maximum security, such as government buildings, correctional facilities, or military bases.

Tripod Turnstiles

Tripod turnstiles are named for the three rotating arms that block unauthorized individuals from entering. Like full-height turnstiles, the barriers are often made of stainless steel but they stand at waist height. Compared to other styles of turnstiles, they are more compact since they require only one cabinet and the arms don’t extend very far. However, they have the same issues as full-height turnstiles in that those with mobility disabilities may find it difficult to pass through these turnstiles due to their narrow lanes and rotating arms. Tripod turnstiles are common in outdoor areas with heavy foot traffic to manage entry into ticketed events, including transit stations, amusement parks, and sports stadiums.

Optical Turnstiles

Optical turnstiles, also known as speed gates, create an invisible barrier between the two cabinets using infrared sensors. Physical barriers are not necessary like mechanical turnstiles, but they can come with them to reinforce security. When access is granted, the invisible beams disconnect and any physical barriers open to allow the person through. After passage, the beams reconnect and the physical barriers are reset until the next user approaches.

Lane-Drop Arm Turnstiles

Lane-drop arm turnstiles feature two stainless steel arms, one on each side, which retract into their cabinets to permit entry. After a person passes through, the arms ascend to their original positions, obstructing entry. While they have a minimalistic appearance, they leave a sizable gap beneath the bars which people can crawl through. However, since they don’t require physical contact to operate, they’re hygienic and suitable for individuals using wheelchairs or that have mobility impairments. They’re commonly found in both outdoor and indoor settings like public buildings, entertainment facilities, and commercial offices.

Swing Turnstiles

Swing turnstiles typically have one or two swinging panels that pivot forward, allowing individuals to pass through in one direction while preventing unauthorized entry from the opposite direction. The lanes are wider compared to tripod or lane-drop arm turnstiles, catering to individuals carrying luggage or using wheelchairs. Swing turnstiles can be configured with single or multiple lanes to accommodate varying levels of pedestrian traffic. This, combined with their durable stainless steel construction, makes them perfect for outdoor areas with high pedestrian flow to ensure payment into transportation hubs, sports venues, or stadiums.

Glass Swing Gate Turnstiles

Glass swing gate turnstiles resemble swing turnstiles, except their panels are made acrylic or tempered glass instead of stainless steel. Like swing turnstiles, they operate without physical contact and their lane width can be modified to accommodate individuals using wheelchairs. Despite providing the same level of security and lane flexibility as swing turnstiles, their gates offer a more stylish and visually appealing appearance. Glass swing gate turnstiles are ideal for secure environments where aesthetics and interior design are important, such as corporate offices, hotels, or educational institutions.

Retractable Turnstiles

Much like glass swing gate turnstiles, retractable turnstiles have waist-high barriers made from acrylic or tempered glass. However, these turnstiles operate by retracting the barriers into the cabinets to allow passage. The lane widths can be adjusted and do not require physical contact to operate, thus accommodating wheelchair users and those with mobility impairments. Configurable for single or multiple lanes, they suit bustling places where aesthetic matters, such as commercial offices, hotels, and educational institutions.

Wing Turnstiles

Wing turnstiles have acrylic or tempered glass barriers that retract into the cabinets to allow passage through. The panels have a unique wing shape, offering a modern and contemporary aesthetic. Like retractable turnstiles, they are configurable with single or multiple lanes to cater to different pedestrian traffic volumes. With wider lanes and no physical contact, they offer accessibility for individuals using wheelchairs or experiencing mobility impairments. They’re best suited for indoor installations in settings like commercial buildings, educational institutions, and hotels.

Container Turnstiles

Container turnstiles are portable units consisting of turnstile units installed within a CONEX box. They are best for outdoor and temporary locations. Once the event or project concludes, the container turnstile can be easily transported to the next location, ready for immediate use. Users can install any style of turnstile within the container, depending on their needs. For instance, if the container turnstile is going to be used at construction sites to prevent trespassing, full-height turnstiles may be the optimal choice for maximum security. If the container turnstile is intended for a public event like a music festival, swing turnstiles may be preferred as they are well-suited for areas with high foot traffic and accessible to everyone, including wheelchair users.

Access Control Solutions from 2M Technology

Understanding the different types and styles of turnstiles is important for implementing an effective solution for access control and pedestrian management in various settings. Whether you choose the robust security offered by full-height turnstiles or the sleek aesthetics from glass swing gate turnstiles, each type caters to specific needs and environments. By selecting the appropriate type and style of turnstile, businesses can enhance security, streamline pedestrian flow, and accommodate entry for all. Contact the 2M Technology sales team today to start building your access control solution. Our experts can assist you in choosing the right turnstile for your industry and even help create a custom turnstile system tailored to your needs.

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