If you’re installing an apartment intercom with a door release system, you’ll need to decide whether to use electric strike locks or magnetic locks on the doors. The right choice for your building depends on your needs and priorities. But what’s the difference between these locks?
Read on to learn the difference between these two types of locks, and how choosing the right one can have a big impact on your building.
This post covers:
- Difference between electronic and magnetic locks
- About electric strike locks
- About magnetic locks
- Should you use an electric strike lock or magnetic lock
The differences between electric strike locks and magnetic locks
The primary difference between electric strike locks (door strike) and magnetic locks (maglocks) is their power requirement. Maglocks are fail-safe, while electric strikes are generally fail-secure. In other words: Magnetic locks require power to lock the door, whereas electric locks require power to unlock the door.
About electric strike locks
Though we may casually call them electric locks, they are technically electric strikes. This terminology is key because magnetic locks are technically electric, too!
Operated mechanically, electric locks replace the traditional door strike with an electrical one. This electric strike latches the door in place with a hinged piece of metal. With this metal piece in the locked position, the door cannot operate. The lock needs to receive an electrical signal to move the metal piece, which allows the door to open.
Watch how an electronic lock/door strike works:
Features & functionality of electric strike locks
Electric locks are installed inside the door frame. Electricity controls a small motor within the electric strike. When triggered, this motor releases the metal piece holding the door in place. Only when the lock has received the electric trigger will it allow movement and become operational.
The electric strike’s motor can be initiated by a number of triggers, such as:
- An electronic card reader
- A keypad
- A key fob
- A wireless sensor
Electric locks only secure one side of the door (generally the exterior of the building). This means the door stays unlocked for anyone inside the building but remains locked to anyone outside. Visitors unlock the door from outside with a device programmed to trigger the electrical signal that releases the door strike.
Keep in mind that an electric strike requires another device, like a lockset or a panic bar. These devices ensure that people inside the building can unlock the door if the power goes out.
Benefits of electric strike locks
An electric strike is a great solution for doors where access in one direction must be carefully monitored.
Some of the benefits of electric strikes include:
- Affordability. Electric strikes generally cost less than magnetic locks.
- Security on only one side of the door. Depending on the situation, this could be a benefit or a drawback. However, keeping one side of a door unlocked is advantageous in doorways that only need to control traffic in one direction.
- Greater security during power outages. If the power goes out, doors with electric locks will remain securely locked. Anyone inside the building can unlock the door by pressing the panic bar.
Drawbacks of electric strike locks
Electric locks are complex. Installing and powering an electric strike requires skill and precision — so you’ll need to hire a trusted installer. You’ll also have to do your research. The electric strike you choose must work properly with the lock bolt on your door.
About magnetic locks
Often referred to as maglocks, magnetic locks require a constant source of power to stay locked. Electricity powers the magnets that keep the door locked.
Watch how a magnetic lock works:
Features & functionality of magnetic locks
Magnetic locks rely on a magnetic charge to keep a door locked.
Maglocks include two components:
- An electromagnet, typically attached to the doorframe
- A metal armature plate, typically attached to the door
When these two components touch and an electric current flows through the electromagnet, the door stays locked. The current creates the magnetic charge, which attracts the armature plate to the electromagnet and prevents the door from operating. When you remove power, the magnet loses its charge and the door can open. Like electric locks, doors with magnetic locks can be triggered to open with a keypad, key fob, or another device.
Benefits of magnetic locks
A good use of a magnetic lock is a lower-security doorway within a tightly secured area. For example, magnetic locks work well on interior doors where security isn’t a huge concern if the power goes out and the door unlocks.
The benefits of magnetic locks include:
- Strength. The average magnetic lock can withstand up to 1200 pounds of force.
- Ease of installation. Maglocks are relatively easy to install. You won’t have to hunt for a contractor with specialized knowledge or equipment.
- Adaptability. Increase the current to increase the magnet’s holding force.
- Security on both sides of the door. Unlike electric locks that only lock one side of the door, maglocks keep both sides locked.
Drawbacks of magnetic locks
The primary disadvantage of a magnetic lock is that it requires constant power. In a power outage, magnetic locks lose power, allowing the door to operate. This could pose a significant security risk, leaving the property vulnerable when the power goes out.
Should you use an electric strike lock or a magnetic lock?
Whether you’re working on a new development or updating doors in an older building, the locks you install matter.
When deciding between an electric strike or a maglock, consider factors such as:
- Door location
- Intended function
- Safety or security concerns
Finally, perhaps the most important factor to consider when choosing a locking mechanism is the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) that enforces regulations that affect your building. Familiarize yourself with your AHJ to make sure any locks you plan to install are up to code.