If you are installing a smart home for an apartment, you need to decide whether you want to use electric 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 strikes) and magnetic locks is their power requirements. Magnetic locks are fail-safe, while electric locks are generally fail-safe. In other words: Magnetic locks require power to lock the door, while electric locks require power to unlock the door.
Let’s first define some “jargon” associated with locks.
You’ll often see the terms “failsafe” and “fail-safe” when looking at various access control systems. These are important terms to understand because they tell you how the lock will operate in the event of a power failure:
“Fail-Safe” requires the power to lock the door. If power is lost, the door will be unlocked. (Typically magnetic locks)
“Fail-Secure” requires power to unlock the door. If power is lost, the door remains locked. (Typical door strike)
It is also important to have a basic understanding of the different parts and how they work together. Most door locks have three main components that work together to keep the door secure. They include the handle and the latch (the small metal bolt that sticks out from the side of the door when it is open), which together make up the lockset, and the locking block. The strike lock or “strike plate” is the metal plate or assembly mounted on the inside of the door frame and adjusted to receive the lock and hold it in place.
Electric locks or “Electric strikes”
Electric locks are electromechanical door locks, meaning that they are mechanical locks with electronic devices that provide additional functionality.
Electric locks are used in combination with another type of locking devices, such as a lockset or panic bar. They are installed instead of the conventional lock striking plate on the inside of the door frame. Electric current is supplied to the lock block, which holds the lock or locks the bolt in situ and keeps the door locked until the discharge system is activated.
The type of release system chosen depends on the application. Examples of release systems for electric lock pads are release buttons, a keypad for entering passwords, electronic key card or keyless entry readers, etc. When the release system is activated, a metal hinge element inside the electric door handle will turn, allowing the door to be opened without having to turn the door handle.
The lock or panic device operates independently of the electric door handle. Therefore, even if the power is off, even if the electric door handle plate functions to keep the door locked from the outside, you can still open the door from the inside by turning the door handle or pressing the panic bar touchpad. This is an example of a failsafe function. Depending on the application, however, most electric door handles can be set to either fail-safe or failsafe operation by means of an integrated switch.
Electric strike locks work in combination with a mechanical locking mechanism by replacing the standard fixed strike of the lock with an electronically controlled striker.
An access control device is used to release the striker and free the locking bolt or lock. Power failure modes: may be fail-safe or fail-safe.
Magnetic locks or Maglocks
Maglocks are electromagnetic door locks. A magnetic lock consists of a large electromagnet mounted along the top of the door frame and a metal plate on the door that is flush with it. The lock works by sending an electric current through the electromagnet, creating a magnetic charge that attracts the plate and holds it in place against the door frame. The door thus remains securely locked until the power is removed or cut off.
Examples of release systems for magnetic locks include many of the same devices as electric locks. When energized, a magnetic lock can create a holding force of more than 1,000 pounds, making it a very effective lock. That is until the power is cut off. Since magical locks, by their very design, require a constant power supply to remain locked, magical locks are only failsafe – they do not work to keep the door locked from either side when the power is cut.
Electromagnetic locks operate independently of the mechanical door lock by means of an electric current conducted through an electromagnet mounted on the door frame, which creates a magnetic charge that binds to a metal armature plate on the door.
An access control device is used to interrupt the current to the electromagnet to trigger the release of the lock. Power-off modes: failsafe available only.