ArticleExploring Tripod Turnstiles: How They Work

by | 20 Oct, 2023 | Tripod, Turnstile Access Control

Explore the mechanism, features, and real-world applications of tripod turnstiles. Discover how they enhance security and manage crowd flow across various settings.


You often see tripod turnstiles in many places. They help control access and make sure people enter in a safe and organised way. Sports stadiums, commercial buildings, and train stations use them. They’re easy to use and help manage the flow of people, help improve security and maintain order. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about tripod turnstiles. We will explain how they work, why they are beneficial, and how people use them. You can integrate tripod turnstiles with about any Access Control System. We will explain how they work and why they are useful.

What is a Tripod Turnstile?

A tripod turnstile is a compact, three-armed rotating gate commonly used to manage and control pedestrian access in a variety of settings. The name comes from its three-armed design, like a tripod. It rotates to control access based on verification.

Mechanism and Structure

There are three primary components in a Turnstile: the column, the head, and the rotating arms.

mTS1000 Tripod Turnstile Column


The turnstile’s operation is supported by a vertical structure that holds its mechanical and electronic parts.

mTS1000 Tripod Turnstile Column


The head is the part of the turnstile where the rotating arms are mounted. The top of the column holds the rotational mechanism for turning the arms. It often contains the access control reader, which can be a card reader, fingerprint scanner, or even a facial recognition system.

mTS1000 Tripod Turnstile Column

Rotating Arms

The three arms are evenly spaced around the head, creating a barrier. They rotate around the head to either permit or deny passage.

The mechanism of a tripod turnstile is relatively straightforward. After the access control system verifies someone’s identity, the arms rotate, allowing them to pass. Usually, only one person can pass at a time because the rotation is limited to a third of a full circle. This makes sure that access is controlled and individual.

Access Control Operation

The access control system, which can be built-in or external, controls the turnstile’s operation. When the credentials are correct, the system sends a signal to open the turnstile and let the person through. If the credentials are not valid or no credentials are shown, the arms stay locked to prevent entry.

Tripod turnstiles can be set to control the flow of people in one or both directions. Tripod turnstiles are reliable and versatile for secure entry and exit control. They have a simple, effective design and can integrate with different access control systems.

Key Features

Tripod turnstiles have several key features, which make them widely used in different places. Below are some of the notable features:


Tripod turnstiles are known for their robust construction. They are often manufactured with Stainless Steel, ideal for most weather conditions.

Ease of Use

The straightforward operation of tripod turnstiles makes them user-friendly. Users simply present their credentials then pass through once the arms rotate. This process is easy to understand and makes access control smooth.


Tripod turnstiles create a physical barrier between a public and secure area. They integrate with almost all Access Control systems.

Flow Control

They have the ability to control the direction people walk and at what rate. This makes them great for managing crowd flow efficiency. They can be set to allow passage in one or both directions, providing flexibility based on the specific needs of the location.

Integration with Access Control Systems

Tripod turnstiles can integrate with a variety of access control systems. They support technologies such as Biometrics, Card/Tags, QR codes or even mobile phones.

Low Maintenance

Because of the sturdy construction and simple mechanics, tripod turnstiles need minimal maintenance. This makes them a cost-effective solution for long-term access control.

Tripod turnstiles are effective and popular access control solutions. They have many features that contribute to their reliability. These features are useful in various settings.

Benefits of Tripod Turnstiles

Advantages of a tripod turnstile and answering the question: What are its benefits?

Security Benefits

Preventing Unauthorised Access:

Tripod turnstiles act as barriers to prevent unauthorised individuals from entering secure areas. They use various access control systems to ensure only authorised people can enter.

Reducing Tailgating and Piggybacking:

Tripod turnstiles prevent tailgating and piggybacking, blocking unauthorised access.

Monitoring and Reporting:

Access control systems use tripod turnstiles to monitor entry and exit activities in real-time. This helps with security surveillance and analysis by generating reports.

Flow Control Benefits

Efficient Crowd Management:

Tripod turnstiles are excellent for controlling the movement of people in busy places. They help maintain order during busy times by controlling people’s speed and direction of movement.

Reduced Congestion:

Tripod turnstiles help people enter and reduce congestion by keeping them moving.

Emergency Evacuation:

Most descent turnstiles have a ‘drop-arm’ feature that allows the top arm to drop down in case of an emergency. This allow for free access in a evacuation scenario.

The benefits of tripod turnstiles extend beyond security and flow control. These devices can work with different technologies and adapt to various operational needs. This makes them a dependable and versatile solution for modern access control.

Tripod Turnstiles vs. Flap Barriers

Tripod turnstiles and flap barriers are both used to control who gets in and out of places. But they have some differences. Let’s look at how they compare:

FeatureTripod TurnstilesFlap Barriers
StructureThree rotating arms, sturdy designRetractable panels, modern design
FunctionalityOne person at a time, after access checkWider passage, smoother entry/exit
Use CasesBusy places like subways and stadiumsOffices and indoor places with a nicer look
LocationSuitable for indoors and outdoorsMostly indoors
AccessibilityStandard passage widthWider passage for better accessibility

In conclusion, while both tripod turnstiles and flap barriers are effective for controlling access, they cater to different needs and settings. Understanding these differences can help in selecting the most suitable option for your location.

To make a good choice, it’s important to know the pros and cons of tripod turnstiles and flap barriers. This helps you consider the needs of the place. Below are the pros and cons of each:

Tripod Turnstiles
DurabilityHighly durable, suited for heavy usage.
CostGenerally more cost-effective.
MaintenanceLow maintenance required.
SecurityHigh level of security with physical barrier.
InstallationEasier to install.
AestheticsLess modern look.
AccessibilityNot as accessible for wider passageways.
Flap Barriers
DurabilityMay not endure heavy outdoor use.
CostTypically more expensive.
MaintenanceMay require more maintenance.
SecuritySmooth access with a level of security.Less physical barrier compared to turnstiles.
InstallationMay require a more complex installation.
AestheticsModern, sleek appearance.
AccessibilityWider passageways for better accessibility.

The ZKTeco Tripod Turnstile Factory

Applications of Tripod Turnstiles

Tripod turnstiles are versatile access control systems used in many different industries. Below are some of the real-world applications where tripod turnstiles prove to be invaluable:

Public Transportation

Tripod turnstiles in subway stations and bus terminals control the flow of commuters. They only let people with valid tickets or passes access the platforms.

Sports and Entertainment Venues

Stadiums and arenas have control over who enters and exits, which keeps things organised and secure.

Commercial Buildings

Tripod turnstiles keep office complexes and shopping malls secure by controlling access and stopping unauthorised entry.

Educational Institutions

School and Universities can control access to campus facilities, keeping the premises secure.

Government and Corporate Facilities

Data Centres and Research Facilities need to ensure that only authorised personnel can enter sensitive areas. Tripod turnstiles offer an effective solution for this.

Health and Fitness Centres

Tripod Turnstiles are especially popular in Gyms as they are low profile and take up less space.

Industrial Sites

Factories and construction sites control worker entry and exit to maintain safety standards and restrict access to dangerous areas.

These applications show how tripod turnstiles can manage access control and enhance security in many settings.


In this article, we’ve explained the tripod turnstile. We talked about how it works, its important features, and the benefits it offers for security and controlling flow in different places. We compared it to flap barriers to show its strengths. We also showed its versatility and relevance in access control today through real-world examples.

We hope this information helps you make informed decisions about access control for your establishment. If you have any questions or need advice about tripod turnstiles, please feel free to contact us. Our team is ready to help you with the information you need for access control.


What is a Tripod Turnstile and how does it work?

A Tripod Turnstile is a three-armed rotating gate used for access control. It allows one person to pass at a time once their credentials are verified by an integrated access control system.

Where are Tripod Turnstiles commonly used?

They are commonly used in public transportation stations, sports venues, commercial buildings, educational institutions, and industrial sites to manage the flow of people and enhance security.

What are the key features of Tripod Turnstiles?

Key features include durability, ease of use, security enhancement, flow control, integration with various access control systems, and low maintenance requirements.

How do Tripod Turnstiles compare to Flap Barriers?

While both serve as access control solutions, Tripod Turnstiles are more durable and cost-effective, suitable for high-traffic outdoor areas. Flap Barriers offer a sleeker design and smoother access, ideal for indoor settings.

Can Tripod Turnstiles be integrated with different types of access control systems?

Yes, Tripod Turnstiles can integrate with a variety of access control systems including biometrics, card/tag readers, QR codes, or mobile phone authentication, making them a versatile choice for many establishments.

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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.
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