As a property manager or facility manager, you know the stress you are under if you’ve ever had the power go out in a building for an extended time. Most commercial buildings are equipped with Access Control systems to allow ease of hundreds of people entering the property. But what happens if there is a large scale emergency like a hurricane or storm that knocks out power for an extended amount of time? Is your building still safe and secured or are your doors standing unlocked?
Today we are going to answer the question: Will my building stay locked if the power goes out?
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Electronic Locks on doors and even Access Control have continued to evolve over the years. While you may walk past one without even knowing it was on a door, there’s more than meets the eye. Electronic locks contribute more to your safety and security and you can find them on commercial buildings, government buildings, healthcare facilities, and schools.
Today we are taking a closer look at the most common types of locks used in Access Control on buildings; Magnetic Locks (or commonly known as Mag Locks) and Electric Strike Locks (commonly known as Electric Strikes). Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each lock can help you make decisions for your facility.
Magnetic Locks aka Mag Locks
What is a Magnetic Lock? Simply put, it uses magnets that create a seal. A Magnetic Lock is made up of 2 components; an electromagnet and an armature metal plate. The magnet is usually attached to the door frame and the plate is attached to the door. When the two pieces come together and touch, an electric current goes through the magnet and creates a charge. This charge attracts the plate and prevents the door from opening. Once the power is removed, the magnet loses the charge and the door is released and can operate. Something to keep in mind with magnetic locks is that the door is always locked from both sides. This is a great option for areas that may require high levels of security since anyone using the lock has to activate it when entering and when leaving. Mag Locks are a popular choice for offices and commercial properties and can be programmed to open with a keypad, key fob or card, or a mobile key. While the magnets are extremely strong with the electric current, they require power to remain locked. If the power was to go out in the building from a fire, the lock would go into a fail safe mode (which means an unlocked state) allowing people to exit the building.
Advantages of Mag Locks:
Powerful: Mag Locks can withstand a high amount of force; on average 1200 pounds but I’ve seen a few at 1800 pounds! Simple Installation: Mag Locks are simple to install and can keep a glass opening secure when you can’t add a traditional lock. Secure: locked from both sides – must scan in and scan out. Disadvantages of Mag Locks: Power: A Mag Lock requires constant power to keep it locked. If there was a power outage, the door would be in fail safe mode (which means unlocked) and it could leave the property and belongings vulnerable. Anyone can exit and anyone can enter! Application: Not as secure for some openings.
Electric Strike Locks aka Electric Strikes
What is an Electric Strike? An Electric Strike is just like a traditional door strike with the benefit of being electrified. Once installed in the door frame, electricity powers an internal motor that releases the door when activated. This electric signal allows the metal piece holding the door locked to move and allows the door to open. The electric signal is usually activated by an electronic card reader, Key Pad, Key Fob, or Mobile Key. Electric Strikes are made to secure one side of the door and are usually found on the exteriors of buildings. This allows the door to be unlocked for anyone inside the building but is locked to anyone outside. Electric Strikes are paired with a panic bar that allow people inside the building to unlock the door and exit the building if the power goes out. This is what is considered a fail secure mode.
Advantages of Electric Strike:
Affordable: Electric Strikes usually cost less than Mag Locks. Powerful: Electric Strikes holding force can range from 1500 pounds to 2500 pounds; pretty powerful! Secure: Keeping one side of the door locked gives you the ability to control the traffic into the building or area. Power: With Electric Strikes, you have greater security during a power outage. If the power goes out, the electric strike will remain locked. People can still exit the building by pressing the panic bar on the door, but no one can enter inside the building. Disadvantages of Electric Strike: Installation: Because of the complexity of Electric Strikes, installation and wiring power requires a high degree of skill. You will need a professional installer that is familiar with low voltage.
We recommend using electric strikes on buildings especially if you live in areas that are prone to power outages. Electric Strikes perform better in a power outage by keeping the building locked but still allowing people to exit the building. In contrast, once Mag Locks lose power, the doors are no longer locked and secure which means anyone can enter. If you have Mag Locks with your Access Control or Key Card System you may want to consider updating the locks to Electric Strikes. You can book a free evaluation with one of our professionals security experts who can help you ensure that your building is safe and secure in a power outage.