The Major Differences Between Electrified Locks and Electric Strikes
Businesses used to rely on the traditional lock and key, just like homes. But the security just didn’t hold up. Thankfully, tremendous strides have been made in the locksmith industry and there are options to fit doors and budgets of all sizes.
Today, a hot option for businesses is to protect their spaces via electronic entrances. The benefits are numerous. Owners can easily determine who is coming in and out of the space, are no longer regularly replacing lost keys, and don’t have to replace said keys every time there is a staffing change.
Even within electronic entrances, there are various options, but you should understand the difference between fail-safe and fail-secure locking devices.
Fail-safe and Fail-Secure Locking Devices
With fail-safe locks, the default state is actually unlocked. To keep it locked during normal business operations, power is applied. Should the power be interrupted or fail, the door automatically unlocks or releases to let people out of the space.
Fail-safe locks are mostly used for main entry points like office doors or lobby access doors. A popular use for this application is maglocks which, by design, require power to operate.
With fail-secure locks, if the power is interrupted or fails, the door stays locked. Its default state is locked or secured, so the door gets locked when power is removed. Fail-secure locks are often used for IT rooms or other sensitive areas.
However, because the door keeps locked in emergencies, typically it will be used in conjunction with a mechanical override, such as a regular key. Fail-secure locks are used for fire-related doors or staircase (stairwell) doors. The reason is that in the case of a fire, those doors should remain closed to seal off a portion of the space and help reduce the fire from spreading.
To make the best decision for your location you’ll want to consider cost, convenience, and having the proper fail-safes in place. This is what you’ll want to know before visiting with the closest locksmith.
1. Electric Strikes
Electric strikes are generally used with metal or wood doors. They can also be used in conjunction with a deadbolt, which is good because if you are not currently using something electronic, odds are you are using a deadbolt and will need something that is compatible.
There are many ways to describe an electric strike, but the easiest way to understand what it is would be to think of it like a door buzzer in an apartment building. Electric strikes work virtually the exact same way.
No physical key is needed, but the door remains locked while only authorized users can be buzzed in. This most commonly is done in the form of a buzzer, keypad, fob reader, or key card.
Given its compatibility with wood and metal doors and general affordability compared to other electronic door security options, electric strikes are a very popular both in the home and for commercial properties.
Fail-secure and fail-safe measures can both be easily taken with an electric strike as well. If the power goes out, the fail-secure with an electric strike is that the doors remain locked, but can be opened manually either by turning the door latch or using a physical key.
2. Electric Push Bars or Exit Bars
These are generally used in order to comply with fire code. The doors are locked by default, but the push bars make a fast exit from a building possible in the event of a fire.
You will often see the push bars on side entrance doors in large buildings and they are required by law in a lot of cases because if there is a fire, people can run down a flight of stairs and push the bar quickly to get out.
A push bar allows a building to have a modern access control system operating its doors while also complying with safety and fire code regulations, making it a suitable option in many cases.
3. Magnetic Locks
These types of locks are perfect for a modern office building because most architects now design buildings with elegant glass doors and those are not always compatible with physical locks.
They operate using a powerful electromagnet attached to the top door frame at the corner with a corresponding metal plate on the door itself, meaning the locks work just like two large magnets.
Magnetic locks are a workaround for those designs and the amount of force necessary to operate the door’s opening and closing usually varies based on how large the door is in each scenario. As a result, magnetic locks can be a very classy option.
However, it should be kept in mind that they quite often require motion sensors and backup batteries to operate. They are also one of the more expensive options, so if you are on a budget and looking to cut costs, magnetic locks are probably not the way you want to go.
4. Electrified Mortise Locks / Wired Mortise Locks
These are an excellent option because they are incredibly easy to use and operate. Mortise locks operate almost entirely like a standard lock that most people have been conditioned to use all of their lives, except they have a power cable connecting the lock to the power supply.
The only somewhat complicated part is that mortise locks require a wire to go through the doors and into the main wall, meaning you either need to use electrified door hinges or on-wall cabling to make them work.
These locks can be set up to be either fail-safe or fail-secure depending on your personal preference.
Some more expensive mortise locks can be set up to switch between fail-safe and fail-secure mode, but it can be a little complicated to install it that way, so if you choose to go that route, you will want to consult with the closest locksmith.
Although mortise locks are a classy option like magnetic locks, unlike magnetic locks, they are not compatible with glass doors, so that must be kept in mind when deciding whether or not to use them.
Harry’s Locksmith has been serving Vancouver and Portland’s commercial locksmithing needs since 1949. There’s no job too big or small for our team of locksmiths who are experts in their field. Our specialties include security doors, keyless entry, ada compliance, and master rekeying.