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Should I Use Electric Strikes or Magnetic Locks for Access Control?

Todd Thompson

Todd Thompson

Todd Thompson - Construction Manager - 2M CCTV

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Magnetic Locks

Magnetic Door Lock (image from Wikipedia)

Magnetic Door Lock (image from Wikipedia)

Magnetic door locks, are good for local, low-risk security applications such as indoor closets where occupants are stationed in the vicinity, or they fall within the perimeter of a more tightly secured area.

Here's why.  Magnetic door locks require a constantly available source of power.  If power is lost, the magnet will not work.  Therefore, entry into the secure area is available to mischief-makers and anyone else.

Battery backup is available in power supply boxes, but they have to be checked often and replaced regularly.  Batteries may not hold power over an extended period of time if the power goes out.  Over a weekend, an occupied building may be much less secure if the power has been out for 48 hours.


Electric Strikes

Electric Door Strike Example

Electric Door Strike (image from bigasterisk.com)

A better solution for door security hardware during a power outage is to use electric strikes.  An electric strike is a mechanically operated strike that releases a door when the mechanical part is activated.  Activation occurs either with the pressing of a panic bar from inside the building or when activated by an electronic controller outside the building with a card reader or other type of access control device.

If power goes out, the magnetic lock will not work.  Without an electronic strike, entry to the building is as easy as simply opening the door.  Add an electronic strike to the secure door, and even when the power goes out, the door is still secure.

What about exiting when the power goes out?  Will I be trapped inside?  No problem.  Even though the electronic strike is in a secure position when the power goes out, remember that pressing the panic bar also activates it so that the door will release.

What about exiting when the power is on when there is a magnetic lock on the door?  Access controlled doors which have both an electronic strike and a magnetic lock should be outfitted with a request-to-exit button inside the building.  These are often referred to as RTX or RTE buttons.  These, along with the person pressing the panic bar on the way out, allow for safe and easy exit when the power is on.

The best access control setup is to have both magnetic locks and electronic strikes on exterior doors, especially those that are used for entrances.  On interior doors, it is not as important to have both.  Generally, a magnetic lock and RTE inside the closet or room, suffices for interior door security, as long as there is some form of monitoring by employees or security personnel during power shutdowns.


Visual Learner?  Alright, here's a video demonstration of magnetic locks and electric door strikes.  Good info Travis!

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