By Matt Gaines, certified electrical contractor, access control manager at Warren Doors & Access Control
Austin Watson, DHT, access control specialist, project manager at Warren Doors & Access Control
Electromagnetic locks, or mag locks, have been around for over 50 years and have become a very common solution for securing access to openings. At some point, you have probably asked security to “buzz you in” to get through a secure door. Previewing our upcoming session, “More than a Mag Lock: Access Control Basics for CHDs” at the DHI ConNextions 2021 conference in New Orleans, we’ll discuss the appropriate applications for mag locks and other electrified hardware alternatives.
Mag Locks for many years have been the go-to security solution due to the low cost, ease of installation, durability, and minimal maintenance since there aren’t any moving parts. However, advances in security technologies now provide alternatives that may be a better choice for most applications. Mag locks require a constant power source to keep an opening locked and they may not meet newer code requirements regarding reliability, safety, and means of egress.
Commonplace in sliding doors, gates, high traffic openings, and outdoor applications, mag locks are appropriate to use when allowed by AHJ regulations. Always refer to local code requirements when considering desired features and functionality of an opening. Mag locks are fail-safe, meaning that an opening is unlocked when power is removed. For openings required to be fail-secure, mag locks are not recommended, as they may leave an opening unsecured during a loss of power event, posing a security concern.
To ensure correct operation, often the easiest or lowest cost option for securing an opening may work, but may not fulfill all the safety and security requirements needed for the application. Electric strikes and locks are best for fail-secure openings where the door stays locked and requires power to unlock the door, whereas mag locks require power to keep the door locked. Card readers, keypads, and other access control devices can be used to trigger the electric strike when access is granted. A panic bar or other hardware is installed on the inside to unlock the door and allow egress.
In general, alternative electrified hardware devices offer many benefits over mag locks including enhanced protection of property and personnel, keyless entry options, reduced operational costs, and access auditing and reporting capabilities. Single access control systems can be designed for single door applications up to major installations managing thousands of openings. There are a multitude of electrified hardware devices and options, instead of mag locks, that may better secure facilities and provide expansive features scalable to future needs. While mag locks are often a familiar and quick solution to secure an opening, always consider the situations where mag locks may fall short of the best solution for ensuring overall security and safety.
We invite you to attend our session at the DHI ConNextions convention on October 20-21 in New Orleans to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of mag locks and other access control solutions.
(Warren Doors & Access Control is a commercial hardware distributor and access control integrator headquartered in Pensacola, FL. As a proud family-owned business, our team’s mission is to supply the highest quality products in the door industry while building customer trust through superior service. Visit us online at SecuringTheSoutheast.com)