What Is a Turnstile? Understanding All Aspects

January 23, 2020
What Is a Turnstile

Turnstile gates are marvels of modern technology that sync flawlessly with the inflow and outflow of traffic in an establishment or a venue. The rising popularity of this access control system can be attributed to the fact that it is as non-constricting as it is restrictive. It is highly effective in preventing breaches while allowing entry to those with the right credentials.

With this basic information in our arsenal, let’s delve deeper to understand what is a turnstile and the role of this security entrance gate.

What Is a Turnstile Gate?

A turnstile is a type of access control system that automatically regulates the entry of authorized individuals in a secured building or area. Entry is permitted to a single individual at a time, which means this gate helps prevent tailgating.

Most turnstiles consume low power to function and can be installed at entry/exit points with a safe operating voltage. These gates are unmanned and can be programmed to permit access only to those with proper authentication/credentials while ruling out the need for human intervention.

Uses of Turnstiles

Apart from either permitting or denying access into a designated space, turnstile gates can control not only who passes through them, but also the number of people that can pass at a time. It also calculates the total number of people that have passed through it within a given timeframe.

Depending on the place of installation, turnstiles come in different types and sizes to manage access sought by passersby and vehicles.

Altering turnstile settings allows users to change their function. This can be done to allow:

  • Single passage in either one or both directions
  • Lockdown from either one or both directions
  • A free passage from either one or both directions

For enabling an additional layer of security, it is possible to add video and/or biometric verification to turnstile gates.

Types of Turnstiles

After understanding what is a turnstile, it’s time to know about the various types of turnstile gates.

With advances in technology, turnstiles have evolved too. One can find an array of turnstile gates specifically designed to suit different requirements and spaces. Further, these gates can be integrated with supporting security systems to further enhance security.

Turnstile gates are available in the following variants:

1. Waist High Turnstiles

These are probably the most commonly used access control gates. They control entry/exit with the help of a revolving tripod, a rising arm, a sliding barricade, or a rotating barrier, so only one person can pass through at a time. Some waist-high turnstiles, such as tripod barriers, require the passerby to physically push the barrier out of his/her way upon granting access, while others open and close automatically.

2. Full Height Turnstiles

Full height turnstiles offer a higher level of security as they are more difficult to breach without authentication. Also, it is impossible to jump over them or pass from under them.

These gates come with revolving doors that facilitate access control by limiting the number of people that can enter and exit a premise, with the glass door closing on one side before opening on the other.

3. Optical Turnstiles

These come in two common variants: flap and swing. Optical turnstiles can regulate access without physical barriers. They allow people to pass through with relevant ID cards or badges using infrared light beams. Upon detecting unauthorized entry, this access control system raises an alarm to alert the authorities to take action.

Apart from the above three types of turnstiles, you can find access control turnstiles for vehicles. These come equipped with barriers with lifting boom arms as vehicles move in and out of parking spaces, toll booths, bridges, and more. The arms can be fitted with chain or ladder-style barrier skirts that deter pedestrians from passing from under these turnstiles.

Turnstile Security Integration

Modern turnstile gates integrate with the following technologies to heighten authentication of user credentials:

1. Biometrics: Permission to enter depends on unique traits such as facial features, iris recognition, fingerprints, and voice control.

2. Barcodes: Barcodes and magnetic stripe readers require users to scan/swipe/insert their ID card or badge to gain access.

3. Proximity readers: An advancement on barcodes and magnetic stripe readers, proximity readers can detect ID cards and badges once they are nearby, without users having to swipe them.

4. Key Pads: Turnstiles with keypads require users to enter a PIN or a numeric code to gain access.

Applications of Turnstile Gates

Turnstile gates are extremely versatile and can be used in virtually any location where pedestrian/crowd/vehicle access needs to be controlled.

1. Buildings:

Residential and commercial complexes can use turnstile gates to regulate visitor and employee access. When required, these gates can be integrated with cameras, alarms, and automated time and attendance systems to monitor employee attendance and work hours.

2. Entertainment and Recreational Venues:

Leisure facilities may use turnstiles that can help regulate the number of people who can move from one place to another at a time.

3. Public Spaces:

Public areas that require a higher level of security, such as airports, train stations, theaters, parks, and malls, can use turnstiles as an additional security measure to keep the premises safe and secure.


Turnstile gates serve as a comprehensive access control system that offers a simple, yet effective way to enhance security and manage crowds in public and private spaces. If you have questions or doubts about our turnstile gate systems and want to know how they can benefit you, feel free to get in touch or leave us a message in the comments section.