While residents and visitors on your property might not think much of the type of lock you use to secure your doors, it’s a choice that impacts both security and convenience. Many buildings use maglocks to secure and release their apartment doors. So, should you start using maglocks on your property?
In this post, we explain what a maglock is and how it works. Then, we help you choose whether maglocks are right for your property.
This post covers:
What is a maglock?
A maglock, or a magnetic lock, is a type of lock that uses magnetism and low-voltage power to keep doors locked and increase security on your property. The power supply keeps the lock’s electromagnet energized, which keeps it in the locked position. Then, when that power supply is removed — which happens when someone uses a credential to unlock the door — the maglock releases, allowing the door to open.
Maglocks are generally considered to be fail-safe because they automatically unlock doors in the event of a power outage.
Maglocks vs. analog locks
Magnetic locks have several benefits compared to analog locks. For one, they can be stronger. Depending on the type of lock you buy, you would need to exert up to 2,000 pounds of force to bypass one!
Maglocks were invented in the late ’60s. And as the access control world began to embrace other advances in technology, the usefulness of maglocks became even more apparent.
Unlike an analog lock, maglocks can be wired to engage and disengage even if there isn’t a person directly at the door. You can electronically instruct maglocks to do whatever your property might need.
For example, you can set a maglock to automatically unlock and lock at specific times. Or, you can set a delayed egress maglock to unlatch after a few seconds.
Additionally, you can wire a maglock to access control hardware like keypads, fingerprint scanners, and intercoms. One keypad can control multiple maglocks, which is useful for larger properties that assign different levels of access permissions to different PIN numbers. Today, you can even program a maglock to unlock remotely with a smartphone app.
Watch a magnetic lock for a glass door in action:
What are the different types of maglock?
There are two main types of maglocks: surface-mounted and morticed.
A surface-mounted lock gets its name from the place it’s installed. Installers mount this type of maglock on the surface of the doorframe.
A morticed lock, also known as a shear lock, is another option if you want to hide the nuts and bolts of a maglock. Shear locks are smaller than surface-mounted maglocks because they depend on pins that help keep a door in place when it’s closed.
How much does it cost to get a maglock?
On average, maglocks cost about $300. However, this number depends on the strength of the maglock you want to buy and if you want to include any other features. For example, a popular feature that properties often request is a battery backup — which will increase costs.
How do maglocks work?
Door magnetic locks work by using magnetic force to keep a door closed.
Maglock doors require these parts:
- Electromagnet. During maglock installation, the electromagnet is placed on top of, or inside, a door frame. This electromagnet is powered by a constant stream of electricity.
- Door plate. The door plate is a metal plate that gets installed on the door. When the electromagnet on the door frame is energized, the door plate is attracted to it and keeps the mag door shut.
Understanding how a maglock works has direct, practical applications, like helping you keep your property safe.
To keep a door locked, maglock doors depend on electricity. Without that electricity, a maglock will disengage — something you should keep in mind if you want to prepare your property for a blackout.
Why use maglocks on your property?
You should use maglocks on doors that you want people to have easy access to in the event of an emergency.
Maglocks disengaging when there isn’t power isn’t a flaw — it’s a feature. In fact, many local fire codes require you to use magnetic locks in certain areas for this very reason.
If there’s an emergency like a fire, people need to be able to exit your building fast. Doors that unlock in the event of a power failure are the safest option. So, maglocks are a great choice for areas like stairwells, rooftops, and lobbies.
But what if there are areas of your property where security needs special emphasis? You might have a high-security area, like a storage closet or an IT server room, that people won’t need access to in an emergency — and that should be locked during a blackout.
Alternatives to maglocks
Electric strikes (also referred to as door strikes) are one alternative to magnetic door locks.
In contrast to maglocks, electric door strikes are considered to be fail-secure, meaning they unlock when they receive a short burst of power. So, when an electric strike isn’t being powered, its default state is locked.
Learn about the differences between electric locks and magnetic locks:
Fail-safe vs. fail-secure
Industry professionals often use the terms fail-safe and fail-secure to refer to maglocks and electric strikes, respectively. You can remember the difference this way: During a power outage, maglocks keep people safe by unlocking. Conversely, electric strikes keep areas secure by remaining locked.
Many properties use both maglocks and electric strikes according to the security needs of specific areas. But before you decide, you should research local municipal regulations and fire codes to ensure the safety of your building.
- A maglock, or magnetic lock, is a lock that depends on an electrified magnet to keep a door locked.
- Because maglocks can respond to electric signals, you can use them with electronic door hardware like intercoms and keypads.
- Maglocks work by electrifying a magnet in a doorframe. There’s another magnet installed in the door itself, which makes the door and the doorframe stick together. When somebody triggers the lock to open with a credential, the current momentarily stops flowing. Then, the person can open the door.
- In the event of a power outage, maglocks unlock because they depend on a constant stream of electric current.
- Use maglocks for rooftops, stairwells, and lobbies; you may want to review the differences between electric and magnetic locks before you make your decision.