unlocking electronic latches with key card


Every access control system needs the electronic door release that actually unlocks the door or gate and lets people in. And electronic latches are one of the most popular types of door release.

In this post, we explain what an electronic door latch is and how it works. Then, we explain where you should use electric latches on your property.

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What is an electronic door latch?

An electronic door latch, also known as an electric strike, is a mechanical locking component nstalled in a doorframe that receives electric power to control when and how a door locks and unlocks. In contrast to standard mechanical locks, electronic latches usually accept digital credentials like PIN codes or fobs instead of physical keys.

Before doors and locks had electronic capabilities, buildings used analog locks on doors. However, new access control hardware can pair with electronic door latches to provide more features and enable more ways to unlock the door.

You might use an electronic door latch with keyless lock control hardware like:

  • Intercoms
  • Card readers
  • Keypads
  • Fingerprint scanners


Are there different types of latches?

Yes, there are six different types of latches:

  • Spring
  • Slam
  • Bolt
  • Compression
  • Cam
  • Rotary

However, many of these different kinds of latches are used in contexts other than property access, like securing individual cabinets or automobiles.

To refer to latches when you’re talking about building access, you can also use the term “electric strike.” Electronic deadbolts, which extend and retract a bolt inside of a lock, also function very similarly to latches.


installing electronic latch deadbolt


Where to install electronic latches

Electronic locks are great for many entrances, especially those with controlled access. What’s more, electric latches are great for high-security areas because they stay locked during a blackout.

Because electronic latches stay locked and keep areas secure in an emergency, installers also refer to them as fail-secure locks.

Use an electronic latch for areas like:

  • Storage closets
  • Server rooms
  • IT rooms


Watch an electronic latch in action:


How does an electronic door latch work?

An electronic door latch release works by releasing when it’s directed to by your access system’s controller after a user scans or enters an authorized credential.

The default state of electronic latches is locked, and they only unlock for short periods of time. An electronic latch gets unlocked when it receives an electric current.

Electric door latch systems have these parts:

  • Reader. Readers take the data from a resident’s credential and forward it over to the controller. Residents might enter a PIN number, use a smartphone app, or scan an RFID or NFC card.
  • Door latch controller. The controller serves as the “brains” of your access control system. Controllers usually manage multiple doors and latches across your property. When it receives credential data from the reader, the controller verifies your resident’s identity by checking it against the list of credentials in its database.
  • Latch. The part of a door latch that actually moves is called a keeper. After the controller receives the signal, the keeper swings outward and the resident can open the door.

When a controller wants to signal a latch to unlock, it does so by releasing a quick burst of electric current. After the latch unlocks for a set amount of time, it re-locks itself.


Benefits of electronic door latches

Electronic door latches are a simple upgrade that offer more convenience to residents and staff alike. And when residents have a good experience navigating your property, they’re more likely to renew their leases.

Digital door latches also help you safeguard critical areas of your property during emergencies and power outages.

Here are some of the benefits of electronic latches:

  • Using electronic credential readers like keypads and card readers
  • Opening multiple doors with the same credential reader
  • Delayed egress — allowing for a delay before a door is unlocked
  • Setting schedules for doors to automatically lock and unlock
  • Opening doors remotely with a smartphone app


entering a gate with an electronic latch


Electronic latch alternatives

For every door on your property, you need to decide between maintaining high security or allowing quick access — and electronic latches emphasize security. So, you might not want to use an electronic latch on every single door on your property. And local fire codes might not permit that, anyways. Make sure to research your local regulations before making any decisions.

Luckily, there’s another electric option that you can install that pairs with access control systems without automatically locking: maglocks.

In contrast to electronic locks, maglocks require a constant stream of power. During a power outage, maglocks unlock — behavior you might want in areas with high foot traffic or areas where people need unimpeded access in an emergency.

As a result, you might use maglocks at:

  • Rooftops
  • Stairwells
  • Lobbies



  • Electronic latches are locks that disengage when they receive a short burst of electricity. They’re an integral part of many access control systems.
  • Residents use electronic latches by scanning their credentials at a reader, which forwards credential data over to the controller. If the controller verifies a credential, it tells the latch to disengage and lets the resident enter.
  • Electronic latches are ideal for high-security areas because they stay locked during blackouts. For areas where you’re prioritizing convenience instead, you should consider installing magnetic locks that unlock during blackouts.


access control system


Ferdison Cayetano

I’m a proptech enthusiast from New Jersey who’s looking forward to the innovations that will revolutionize real estate.