Bypassing Energy Keycard Switches

Ahmed Musaad
Ahmed Musaad
Bypassing Energy Keycard Switches
Cover Image by Marco Verch Professional Photographer (Image, Licence)

I am in Berlin nowadays (visiting for a few days) and I am staying at a hotel. It's a great hotel in a nice location that makes it easy for me to explore the city and go about my planned days. I have no complaints about the hotel itself, but I do have a small pet peeve with one system they (and many other hotels) use, allow me to explain.

Like many other hotels you might have stayed at, this place uses a keycard switch in the room to control the power and ventilation. This means to have the lights on and the AC running, I have to put my room card into a reader that's fixed on the wall. Now, I get and fully appreciate the concept and the benefits of saving energy, and I wouldn't be annoyed about this entire thing if it wasn't for how inconvenient it can be every so often.

You are staying with someone and one of you needs to leave for a while but the other person wants to have a nap? Well, better enjoy napping without air conditioning. You are staying alone and need to go run some errands? I hope you like coming back to a warm and unventilated room.

Admittedly, you could just ask for an extra card and many hotels would actually accommodate such a request (if you ask nicely, ofc), but some don't. Even then, this is not the end of the world, it's not that big of a deal, a minor inconvenience at best. The reason I am writing this entire post is to point a hilarious fact about these switches.

Earlier this year, I visited Luleå to meet a group of my friends and relive some memories from my time there and as you might have guessed, we stayed at a hotel. I was complaining about the keycard switch system to some of my friends, and one of them pointed out a hilarious and slightly maddening fact. Many of these card switch systems don't actually check that the card you insert is your room card or a room card at all.

This is obviously inefficient and can render the entire thing useless. If I were to guess, hotels use these systems –instead of the ones that actually validate the card– to save money. All the keycard switches I came across don't perform such validation and were happy to keep the power on as long as I inserted any random card into the reader. In fact, you can keep an empty RFID card with you when travelling just for this purpose.

Now that you know this, I actually implore you to not use it when staying at hotels that use these systems. Saving energy is a great thing that contributes to saving our planet. Ask the hotel staff –nicely– for an extra card if you need it, and let the system turn off the lights when you aren't using the room.

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