How do Apartment Key Fobs Work?

Apartment key fobs serve as an electric access and control system that utilizes RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology.

The RFID contains unique, personalized information so that the key fobs can match up with a specific location.

The key fobs consist of the owner’s personal information and a serial number.

When you activate a key fob, it transmits radio waves to connect with the door reader.

Once the waves effectively communicate with this reader, it will trigger the door latch, as it is programmed to do.

Main Components of Quality Key Fob System

There are a variety of keyless fob system suppliers. Therefore, many of these products have similar designs and components. 

The centralized entry system hub typically has a base station. There will also be a central computer that organizes the critical information within the base.

Below are some of the other critical elements of keyless fob systems that you must understand:

  • Door sensors – this information gets transferred to the base station so that the computer system understands when the door physically shuts or opens.
  • Access card readers – these unique access points are where the user must swipe the fob to enter and exit the location successfully. This reader is a critical advantage over traditional keys because you do not need to fumble and stick the key into a tight spot.
  • Key fob – this is the physical key that connects you to the technology within the computer and grants access past the door.
  • Intercoms – these components get installed somewhere within the primary entryway. It allows for direct communication between the guests and tenants.
  • Backups – power failures are one of the most significant drawbacks of keyless fob entry systems. Many advanced smart entry products will have a “plan B” option that runs on an alternative power source or batteries.
  • Security cameras – most keyless fob systems come with integrated security camera capabilities. Visual add-ons to the access control add a level of protection if the user wishes.
  • Alarm systems – electron access control systems will also contain an alert component that triggers after certain events occur.
  • Sensors – there are more expensive access systems that have sophisticated sensors for both heat and water.
  • Smart lock – other advanced technologies for access control will also have smart lock features.
  • Push-to-exit button options – many fire codes do not enable key access for emergency access, which is why more and more buildings are utilizing push to exit buttons.

RFID’s Role in the Apartment Key Fob System

One of the most significant advantages of keyless fobs is convenience.

There is no more hassle of inputting a standard key into a precise hole.

Access control systems only require you to be a proximal distance away for the RFID technology to communicate with the door reader.

The RFID acts a lot like an electronic or credit card barcode. However, a key fob system does not require the scan to be as accurate or precise.

When the key fob is within close range of the reader, the locking mechanism opens. Therefore, anyone with a matching key fob can gain access into the building or restricted area.

Programming a Key Fob

Key fobs provide many benefits that traditional keys cannot. However, one drawback is the difficulty in programming the key.

You must purchase at least one new, blank key fob. In addition, you will need to buy an RFID writer to complete the process. 

It is also possible to copy over information from an existing fob by reading it with the RFID mechanism. You can then input the data into the new fob by writing it in with the same device.

Apartment Key Fob Systems

Key fobs are an effective solution for gated communities and apartment complexes.

These electronic access control systems provide access to communal spaces, like the pool, storage facilities, and main gate.

These key fobs are also most effective for individual housing units. 

This system makes it straightforward for tenants to grant temporary access to babysitters, dog walkers, and cleaning crews without worrying about anyone copying the system. 

Fobs are also convenient when you are going on vacation.

Business Key Fob Systems

Key fobs are also an innovative solution for businesses and other commercial spaces. The main reason why many companies choose key fob systems is because of the added security.

If your fobs get misplaced or stolen, it is easy to block access. That way, an unauthorized person with a key fob cannot enter the business.  

Key fobs can also get restricted when an employee formally leaves the company.

Various businesses consistently switch up the code for restricted locations. You can also merge fob and access control information with the business’s security system.

Pros for Keyless Fobs

So, what makes key fobs so convenient? Many homeowners and businesses elect to purchase a key fob to protect against theft, enjoy easier access, and oversee centralized access.

Depending on the system, most key fob products have extra security features added.

Most key fobs come with alarm systems, security cameras, and other alerts for any entry and exit through the door.

If you happen to lose your fob, you can quickly deactivate it so no one can enter the premises.

Centralized access is another critical reason why people choose the fob system route. You can organize who has access, the level of access, and other customizations.

You can house all the critical information in one spot and constantly change permissions and access levels.

Homeowners must weigh the pros and the cons of keyless fobs before potentially investing in this solution.

Below are the positives and negatives that you must know before making your choice.

Centralized Access

Keyless fobs enable a centralized access control system.

Having your information stored in one place eliminates the need for multiple keys.

This benefit means less hassle or time spent with the locksmith.

No Physical Key

The keyless fob will not require you to fumble around for your keys.

Electronic door locks also mean no more lockboxes or lost keys in the future.

Personal Security System

Keyless fobs typically have a mobile app or technology that gives you complete transparency of the comings and goings of your home.

The centralized database allows for visibility of people entering and exiting the premises.

Having this insight is an excellent security benefit for you and your family.


The keyless fob system gives rise to additional security technologies for your home.

You can easily scale up to a video doorbell, home security system, smart home technologies, cameras, sensors, alarm systems, or other helpful tools.

No More Lockouts

A keyless fob entry system has customizable settings in case of an emergency.

If a member of the household gets locked out of the house, he or she can receive remote entry capabilities for the time being.

This benefit provides peace of mind of never being restricted from entering the premises.

Cons for Keyless Fobs

You cannot make an educated purchase decision without proper education on the negatives of the keyless fob.

Here are a couple of drawbacks to consider.

Prone to Hacking

Smart cyber intruders can always find a way to hack the fob system.

It will depend on the type of system you use and the criminal’s sophistication.

Many keyless fob products have a system in place to combat these attacks when they happen, but it is essential to consider.

Power Failures

If your power is out, your access system cannot function.

Because it is electric, the fob functions will be useless in the event of an outage or strong storm.

Troubleshooting and Specialization

When the physical door lock stops working, it is usually a simple fix.

If you cannot figure it out, you can quickly call the locksmith for quick troubleshooting.

However, the technology with a fob system may require the expertise of a specialist.

Time Loss

Most of the time, key fobs will save you convenience over the standard key entry.

There will also be times when you need to change out fobs, adjust the code, or solve technical issues.

These events take away valuable time and can be a hassle to deal with.


A simpler keyless entry system may need batteries for it to operate,  a lock for the smart door.

Replacing these batteries every other month could also feel like a chore to do so after a while.

Final Wrap Up

As technology constantly transforms the real estate industry, it becomes more important for homeowners and property managers to invest in smart lock technologies and systems. 

Apartment key fobs are becoming more popular because of their enhanced security features, centralized information access, and ease of use.

Although there are high costs and learning curves for programming, the long-term benefits are tough to ignore.

You get peace of mind knowing that you have full transparency of what goes in and out of the property.

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