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What's The Difference Between Electric Strike Locks And Magnetic Locks?

Updated: Apr 30

If you're installing an intelligent apartment parcel storage locker , 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?

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.

First, let's define some "jargon" related to locks.

You'll often see the terms "fail-safe" and "fail-secure" when looking at different access control system. These are important terms to understand because they tell you how the lock will function in the event of a power failure:

  • "Fail-Safe" requires power to lock the door. If power is lost, then the door will become unlocked. (Typically Mag Locks)

  • "Fail-Secure" requires power to unlock the door. If power is lost, then the door will remain locked. (Typically Door Strikes)

It's also important to have a basic understanding of the different parts and how they function together. Most door locks have three major components that work together to keep the door secure. They include the handle and the latch (the small metal bolt that sticks out of the side of the door when open), which together make up the lockset, and the strike. The strike, or "strike plate" is the metal plate or assembly installed on the inside of the door frame and is aligned to receive the latch and hold it secure.

Electric Strike Locks or "Electric Strikes"

Electric strikes are electromechanical door locking devices, meaning they are mechanical locks with electronic devices that provide additional functionality.

Electric strikes are used in combination with another form of locking devices, such as a lock set or a panic bar. They are installed in place of the conventional lock strike plate on the inside of the door frame. Electrical power is supplied to the strike, which holds the latch or lock bolt in place, keeping the door locked until the release system is activated.

The type of release system chosen will vary based on the application. Examples of release systems for electric strikes include reception release buttons, a keypad for entering passcodes, electronic key card or fob readers, etc. Once the release system is activated, a hinged piece of metal inside the electric strike will pivot to allow the door to open without having to turn the door handle.

The lock or panic hardware functions independently of the electric strike. Therefore, while the electric strike plate functions to keep the door locked from the outside, even if the power is out, you can still open the door from the inside by turning the door handle or pushing the touchpad of the panic hardware. This is an example of a fail-safe function. However, depending on the application, most electric strikes can be set to either fail-safe or fail-secure using an integral switch.

Electric strike lock works in combination with a mechanical locking mechanism by replacing the standard fixed strike of the lock with an electronically controlled strike.

An access control device is used to trigger the strike plate and release the lock bolt or latch. Power fail modes: Can be fail-safe or fail-secure.

Magnetic or "Mag" Locks

Mag locks are electromagnetic door locking devices. A mag lock consists of a large electromagnet installed along the top of a door frame and a metal plate on the door that lines up with it. The lock functions by passing an electric current through the electromagnet, creating a magnetic charge that attracts the plate and holds it in place against the door frame. This keeps the door securely locked until the power is removed or interrupted.

Examples of release systems for mag locks include many of the same devices as for electric strikes. When energized, a mag lock can create a retention force greater than 1,000 pounds, making it a very effective lock. That is, until the power is cut. Because mag locks by design require a constant supply of electricity to remain locked, mag locks are fail-safe only — they do not function to keep the door locked from either side when the power is out.

Electromagnetic lock works independently of the mechanical door latch by means of an electric current passed through an electromagnet installed on the door frame creating a magnetic charge that bonds to a metal armature plate on the door.

An access control device is used to cut power to the electromagnet to trigger the release of the lock. Power fail modes: Only available fail-safe.

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