Exploring Full Height Turnstiles: What Are They and How Do They Work?

by | Oct 31, 2023 | Full Height, Turnstile Access Control

Discover the functionality and advantages of Full Height Turnstiles in access control. Learn about their structure, features, and comparison with other turnstile types to make an informed decision for your security needs.

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Full Height Turnstiles are electromechanically operated security gates that control access to a location. Unlike the shorter tripod turnstiles, these extend from floor to ceiling, forming a secure barrier that’s tough to bypass.

You’ll often see them in stadiums, construction sites, data centers, and government buildings where high-level security is essential. They excel in keeping places safe and managing the flow of people efficiently. As you delve into this article, you’ll learn how Full Height Turnstiles function, where they are most effective, and why they could be the right choice for enhancing security at your premises.


Key Takeaways

  • Definition: Full Height Turnstiles control pedestrian access with a floor-to-ceiling rotating barrier.
  • Structure: Comprising the Barrier Frame, Rotor, and Main Frame (Head).
  • Functionality: Operate on a one-person-per-rotation basis upon authorization.
  • Integration: Compatible with various access control systems.
  • Applications: Ideal for high-security areas indoors or outdoors.
  • Benefits: Offer enhanced security, durability, and effective flow control.
  • Comparison: Superior security compared to other turnstile types, with a higher initial investment.

What is a Full Height Turnstile?

Full Height Turnstiles are robust access control solutions designed to control and manage pedestrian access across various settings securely. Unlike other turnstiles, these extend from the floor to the ceiling, creating a complete barrier to unauthorized entry. They are an ideal choice for premises requiring high-security access control, like industrial sites, stadiums, or high-security zones.

Mechanism and Structure

The Full Height Turnstile comprises three main components: the Barrier Frame, the Rotor, and the Main Frame (often referred to as the ‘Head’).

mTS1000 Tripod Turnstile Column

Barrier Frame

The Barrier Frame is a sturdy structure that extends from the floor to the ceiling, forming a secure enclosure that assists in controlling access.

mTS1000 Tripod Turnstile Column


The Rotor is the rotating part situated within the Barrier Frame, usually consisting of three or four arms. As an individual pushes against the rotor arms, it rotates to allow passage.

mTS1000 Tripod Turnstile Column

Main Frame (Head)

The Main Frame, or the ‘Head’, houses the mechanical and electronic parts that control the rotor’s operation. It contains the locking mechanism and the access control system interfaces.

Control Access Operation

The operation of a Full Height Turnstile is straightforward yet highly secure. An individual presents their credentials to the access control system, such as a card reader or biometric scanner integrated within the Main Frame. Upon successful verification, the system sends a signal to unlock the rotor, allowing the individual to pass through. As the person pushes against the rotor arms, it rotates to permit passage, re-locking once the individual has passed through, ready for the next authorised person.

Full Height Turnstiles can be configured to control the flow of people in one or both directions, offering flexibility based on the specific needs of the location. This controlled access feature makes Full Height Turnstiles a highly reliable tool for various establishments looking to enhance security and efficiently manage pedestrian traffic.

Operation to Control Access

Full Height Turnstiles function seamlessly with a variety of access control systems to ensure secure and efficient pedestrian access management. Here’s how they interact:

  • Credential Verification: The first step in the access control process involves credential verification. Individuals present their credentials—whether it’s a key card, fingerprint, or facial recognition—to the access control system integrated within the Main Frame.
  • Access Approval: Upon successful verification of credentials, the access control system sends a signal to unlock the rotor. This signaling is crucial as it ensures only authorised individuals can pass through.
  • Passage through the Turnstile: With the rotor unlocked, individuals push against the arms of the rotor to rotate it and pass through the turnstile. The rotation is smooth, allowing for ease of passage while maintaining a high level of security.
  • Re-locking: Once the individual has passed through, the rotor re-locks automatically, ready for the next person. This auto-locking feature is vital for maintaining security and controlling access effectively.
  • Traffic Direction Control: Full Height Turnstiles can be configured to allow passage in one or both directions, enabling establishments to manage the flow of people entering and exiting the premises effectively.
  • Monitoring and Reporting: The integration with access control systems also facilitates real-time monitoring and reporting. Entry and exit data can be logged and analyzed to understand traffic patterns, ensure compliance with occupancy limits, and respond to security incidents swiftly.

The harmonious interaction between Full Height Turnstiles and access control systems creates a robust and reliable access control solution. It not only enhances security but also provides a streamlined operation for managing pedestrian traffic in various settings.

Key Features

Full Height Turnstiles are chosen for many applications due to their unique features. Here are the main features that contribute to their preference:

High Security

The full height design forms a complete barrier, significantly reducing the possibility of unauthorised access compared to half-height turnstiles.

Durable Construction

Typically constructed from high-quality materials like stainless steel or aluminum, Full Height Turnstiles are built to withstand heavy usage and adverse weather conditions, making them ideal for both indoor and outdoor installations.

Ease of Integration

They can easily integrate with a variety of access control systems, allowing for a seamless operation whether using card readers, biometric scanners, or other credential verification methods.


Bi-Directional Access

Full Height Turnstiles can be configured for single or bi-directional access, offering flexibility in controlling the flow of people entering and exiting the premises.

Low Maintenance

Due to their robust construction and simple mechanical operation, Full Height Turnstiles require minimal maintenance, ensuring a low total cost of ownership over time.

Visibility and Monitoring

The integration with access control systems allows for real-time monitoring and data logging, aiding in better visibility and control over who accesses the premises.

Tailgating Prevention

The design and operation of Full Height Turnstiles effectively prevent tailgating and ensure that only one person passes through at a time after successful credential verification.

These features make Full Height Turnstiles a reliable and effective choice for establishments looking to enhance security, control access, and manage pedestrian traffic efficiently. Their ability to withstand heavy use while maintaining a high level of security makes them a popular choice for various high-security areas and other settings.

Benefits of Full Height Turnstiles

Full Height Turnstiles are favored for their ability to provide enhanced security and better flow control in various settings. Here’s a closer look at these benefits:

Security Benefits

  • Effective Barrier: The full height design acts as a formidable barrier to unauthorized entry, ensuring only verified individuals can pass through.
  • Tailgating Prevention: Their mechanism allows only one person to pass at a time, significantly reducing the chances of tailgating—a common security issue.
  • Integration with Advanced Access Control Systems: They can integrate with advanced access control systems to provide various authentication methods like biometrics, card readers, or facial recognition, further enhancing security.
  • Real-Time Monitoring: Through integration with access control systems, real-time monitoring and alerting on unauthorized attempts are possible, enabling swift response to security incidents.

Flow Control Benefits

  • Smooth Traffic Flow: By providing a clear and straightforward passage process, Full Height Turnstiles help in maintaining a smooth flow of authorized individuals entering or exiting the premises.
  • Directional Control: The option for single or bi-directional access provides flexibility in managing the flow of traffic, which is crucial during peak hours or in emergency situations.
  • Crowd Management: In high-traffic settings like stadiums or amusement parks, Full Height Turnstiles aid in effective crowd management, ensuring orderly movement and reducing congestion.
  • Occupancy Monitoring: With the ability to log entry and exit data, establishments can monitor occupancy levels, which is essential for adherence to safety regulations and capacity limits.

The security and flow control benefits provided by Full Height Turnstiles make them an indispensable asset for various establishments aiming to maintain a safe, secure, and orderly environment.

Full Height Turnstiles vs Other Turnstiles

When it comes to choosing the right turnstile for a specific application, understanding the differences between Full Height Turnstiles and other types of turnstiles is crucial. Below is a comparative analysis based on structure, functionality, and use cases:


Full Height Turnstiles

ZKTeco FHT2400 Full Height Stainless Steel Turnstile

ZKTeco FHT2400 Full Height Stainless Steel Turnstile


Other Turnstiles (e.g., Tripod Turnstiles, Flap Barriers)

ZKTeco SBTL5000

ZKTeco SBTL5000 Swing Barrier Turnstile


StructureExtend from floor to ceiling, creating a complete barrier.Half-height or waist-high, offering a lower level of physical barrier.
Typically have three or four arms forming a rotor within a barrier frame.Various designs like tripod arms or retractable flaps.
Durable construction with high-quality materials like stainless steel or aluminum.May not have the same level of robust construction.
FunctionalityHigh-security access control with one-person-per-rotation operation.Lower level of security due to the less imposing physical barrier.
Capability to integrate with advanced access control systems for various authentication methods.May also integrate with access control systems but may be more suited for lower security requirements.
Bi-directional access control, allowing flexibility in traffic flow management.May not offer the same level of bi-directional control.
Use CasesIdeal for high-security areas like government facilities, industrial sites, and stadiums.More suited for lower security areas like office lobbies, gyms, or public transportation stations.
Suitable for both indoor and outdoor installations due to their durable construction.May be more aesthetically pleasing and thus preferred in corporate or public settings where aesthetics are a priority.

In summary, the choice between Full Height Turnstiles and other types of turnstiles largely depends on the specific security requirements, the desired level of control over traffic flow, and the environment in which they will be installed.

Pros and Cons

Full Height Turnstiles offer unique advantages but also come with certain disadvantages. Here’s a breakdown:


  • Enhanced Security: The full height design significantly reduces unauthorised access, making these turnstiles ideal for high-security areas.

  • Durable Construction: Built with high-quality materials, Full Height Turnstiles withstand heavy usage and adverse weather conditions, ideal for both indoor and outdoor installations.

  • Ease of Integration: Can easily integrate with a variety of access control systems, providing a seamless operation with various authentication methods.

  • Low Maintenance: Due to robust construction and simple mechanical operation, they require minimal maintenance, ensuring a low total cost of ownership.


  • Less Aesthetically Pleasing: The industrial appearance may not blend well with all architectural styles, potentially impacting the visual appeal of the entrance area.

  • Cost: Initial investment may be higher compared to other types of turnstiles.

  • Space Requirement: They require more space due to their full height design, which may not be suitable for cramped areas.

Applications of Full Height Turnstiles

Full Height Turnstiles find application in a wide range of settings due to their robust security and traffic flow management capabilities. Here are some real-world applications:

  • Government Facilities: Ensures only authorised personnel can access restricted areas.

  • Industrial Sites: Controls access to hazardous or secure areas within industrial settings.

  • Sporting Venues: Manages crowd flow during events, ensuring orderly and secure access.

  • Transportation Hubs: Provides secure and orderly passage in high-traffic areas like subway or train stations.

  • Educational Institutions: Controls access to campus facilities, enhancing overall security.


In this article, we’ve explored the structure, functionality, and various applications of Full Height Turnstiles. Their superior security features, durable construction, and ease of integration with access control systems make them a valuable addition to various establishments, especially those with high-security requirements. The comparative analysis also sheds light on how they stand apart from other types of turnstiles, aiding in making an informed decision based on specific needs.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on Full Height Turnstiles. Feel free to leave a comment below or contact us for more information, pricing, or advice on choosing the right turnstile solution for your needs. Your security and satisfaction are our priority, and we’re here to assist you every step of the way.


What is a Full Height Turnstile and how does it work?

A Full Height Turnstile is a floor-to-ceiling security gate that controls pedestrian access through a rotating barrier. It operates by rotating the barrier once a user is authorised by an integrated access control system, allowing one person to pass at a time.


Where are Full Height Turnstiles commonly used?

They are commonly used in high-security areas such as government facilities, industrial sites, sporting venues, transportation hubs, and educational institutions to control and monitor pedestrian access.


Can Full Height Turnstiles integrate with different types of access control systems?

Yes, Full Height Turnstiles can integrate with a variety of access control systems including card readers, biometric systems, and facial recognition systems, allowing for a flexible and secure access control solution.


What are the key benefits of using Full Height Turnstiles?

The key benefits include enhanced security through prevention of unauthorised access and tailgating, durable construction for long-term use, ease of integration with access control systems, and effective flow control to manage pedestrian traffic.


Are Full Height Turnstiles suitable for outdoor installations?

Yes, due to their durable construction with high-quality materials like stainless steel or aluminum, Full Height Turnstiles are suitable for both indoor and outdoor installations, withstanding adverse weather conditions.


About the author



Reynardt Badenhorst, founder and Managing Director of NZTeco Limited, is ZKTeco's primary distributor in New Zealand and nearby islands. Boasting two decades in the security sector, he has dedicated over ten years to ZKTeco, even working for them in South Africa.At NZTeco, Reynardt oversees projects, marketing, and website development. He frequently pens articles on ZKTeco products, from Time & Attendance to Access Control, showcasing his industry passion. Beyond his professional life, Reynardt is an avid photographer and video editor, skills that enrich his web development approach.