Property managers wishing to maintain the highest level of security for their building must strengthen their access control with innovative tools and technologies.

Some of the most common technologies in building access control are electric strike locks and magnetic locks. Both these locks have their strengths and weaknesses. Though they aren’t fit for all purposes, if installed in the right location with a specific purpose, they can eliminate security risks and increase convenience for users.

Teams can leverage the strengths of electric strikes and magnetic locks by understanding the difference between their operational capabilities. Read on to learn about the differences between these two locks and how you can use them to strengthen the access control of the building.

Genea’s cloud-based access control system is compatible with electric and magnetic locks. Increase security for your building today with Genea.

What is an Electric Lock (or an Electric Strike Lock)?

An electric lock uses an electric strike plate instead of a standard strike place to hold the latch or lock bolt until a release system is activated. The release mechanism can be anything, including a passcode, fob key, access card or motion sensor.

Electric strike locks are often used in combination with request-to-exit (REX) devices and panic bars to allow people inside the room to unlock the door by pressing a button when the power goes off.

What is a magnetic lock (or electromagnetic lock or maglock)?

Property managers can use magnetic locks to improve the access control of a building.

Magnetic locks consist of two components: an electromagnet and a metal plate or an armature plate.

  • Electromagnet: An electromagnet is installed often above a glass door.
  • Armature plate: An armature plate is installed on the door in a way that it lines up with the electromagnet.

When the door is closed, the armature plate and electromagnet components come into contact. Importantly, electricity passes through both components, thereby locking the door. To unlock the door, the controller sends a signal to the door. This signal communicates that the electricity flowing between the electromagnet and the armature plate should be severed. Once the electricity is severed, the door unlocks.

Just like electric locks, you can use a keypad with a mobile device, key fobs or access cards to activate the release system in magnetic locks.

Differences Between Electric and Magnetic Locks

The electric strikes and mag locks function using separate principles. They have different power requirements, locking functionality, security, strength and ease of installation. 

AreaElectric StrikesMagnetic Locks
StrengthMost electric strikes have a holding force of up to 1500lbs.The average magnetic lock can withstand up to 1200lbs. A magnetic shear lock can hold up to 1500lbs.
AffordabilityElectric strikes cost relatively less than magnetic locks. 
Locking functionalityElectric strikes lock the door from only one side. However, this feature is advantageous for building premises where access control is needed in only one direction.Magnetic locks can keep the door locked from both sides. This feature is advantageous when access control is required in both directions.
SecurityThese are typically available in fail-secure mode. A fail-secure is a mechanism that keeps the door locked even during a power outage. However, IT and security personnel can convert an electric lock into a fail-safe mode with the help of an integral switch.These are typically available in fail-safe mode. A fail-safe is a mechanism that unlocks the door when the power is lost. This could pose a severe security risk to building premises. They aren’t suitable for premises that don’t have a constant power supply.
Power requirementElectric locks require power to unlock the door.Most electric locks use anywhere between 0.25A and 0.5A of current when the voltage supply is 12VDC (VDC refers to volts of direct current). The current usage falls between 0.1A and 0.25A when the voltage supply is 24VDC.Magnetic locks require a constant source of power to keep the door locked.The current used by the electromagnetic lock is around 0.5A when the voltage supply is 12VDC.The current used by the electromagnetic lock is around 0.25A when the voltage supply is 24VDC.
Ease of InstallationInstallation of electric strikes involves complex procedures. You may need the help of an expert to install electric strikes. Installation of magnetic locks is relatively easier than the electric strikes.
Power Failure ModesElectric locks are available in both fail-secure and fail-safe modes.Magnetic locks are available only in fail-safe mode.

When Electric and Magnetic Locks are Used

The use cases of electric strikes and magnetic locks are completely different. Property managers need to choose a suitable locking system depending on their access control requirements and priorities.

Here are a few examples of when electric locks are used:

  • High security for belongings: You can use electric strikes to provide high security to important belongings stored in a building or a cabinet.
  •  Easy egress: Electric locksets often come with a panic bar installed inside the building. People can press this panic bar during emergencies to unlock the door. So you can use electric strikes when there is a need for easy egress. 

Here are a few examples of when magnetic locks are used:

  • Emergency egress: Shopping malls and high-rise buildings can use emergency egress magnetic locks to automatically unlock the exit doors during emergencies like fire and earthquake.
  • Controlled egress: Controlled egress magnetic locks can be used in enterprises, commercial security, retail, education, and coworking spaces. These locks ensure the doors serving certain areas remain locked until they are unlocked by the staff, fire signal or other emergencies.

Door Locks

Electric doors are recommended for doors when the purpose of access control is to protect the property or belongings. For instance, you can use electric locks on doors of server rooms where only authorized people are allowed to enter.

Magnetic locks are recommended for doors when the purpose of access control is to protect people. For example, you can use magnetic locks for emergency exits in public buildings such as libraries, museums, post offices, government agencies and civic institutions. When the power is interrupted by a fire alarm signal, the magnet loses power and releases the emergency exit door.

Role-based access control is available remotely with Genea. Learn more about our products today to take your building security to the next level.

Delayed Egress Door Locks

Delayed egress locks can delay the opening of the door for up to 30 seconds under normal circumstances. However, this special type of door triggers an immediate unlock of the door in emergencies. The main purpose of installing egress doors is to prevent theft while maintaining the security of the building.

Delayed egress locks often come with audible alarms that continuously ring for up to 30 seconds (depending on predetermined parameters) to notify of the unauthorized exit of personnel to building supervisors.

Property managers should make sure that the installation of delayed egress locks meets the criteria of building codes. They may need to get approval from federal, state, county and city fire and building authorities before installation.

A magnetic lock system is associated most frequently with the delayed egress door mechanism. A few vital components of the delayed egress magnetic locks are a magnetic lock, digital signage with a countdown timer, an alarm, an alarm interface, a wall-mounted card reader to bypass delayed egress and an exit sense device.

man opening locked door to building

Stay Secure with Genea Access Control 

Electric and magnetic locks play an important role in enhancing the security of the building irrespective of whether you use single doors, double doors, and swinging doors. Property managers may need to choose an appropriate lock mechanism depending on security specifications, budget and ease of use.

Integrating your electric locks and magnetic locks with a cloud-based access control system is always a good idea as it enables you to manage the credentials, monitor access activities and assign mobile keys for authorized users to unlock electric and magnetic locks from anywhere, at any time.

Genea’s cloud access control system is compatible with existing electric and magnetic locks from brands such as Securiton, Dynalock, Schlage, Seco-larm and SDC. It allows your property managers to assign access keys in the form of key fobs, access cards and mobile keys to let authorized people open doors and gates without any hassle. Genea’s access control platform can record door opening and closing logs and trigger a warning to building supervisors when a force attempt is made to open a door.

Learn how electric and magnetic door locks can be integrated with Genea’s access control platform to strengthen the security system at your building. 

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