When you’re securing your doors using an access control system, you have two major choices for lock types: electric vs magnetic locks. While both locks will work with your access control system and allow authorized users to access your door, they still offer different features based on their different mechanisms. Choosing between these lock types is an important decision for any business. Here is some information that can help.

Electric Locks: The Basics

An electric lock is a physical lock that is powered with electricity. When someone approaches your door who is authorized to access it, an electrical device will open the lock. It may be designed to be fail-safe or fail-secure.

  • Fail-safe: The lock is held shut by electricity. If the power goes out, the door is automatically unlocked.
  • Fail-secure: The lock is always shut and opened by electricity. If the power goes out, the door’s lock cannot be opened unless there is a backup power supply available.

Electric locks are complex to install but are affordable compared to magnetic locks. They offer flexibility, security, and no exit delays from the inside. They are not suitable for all door frames and can be tampered with.

Magnetic Locks: The Basics

A magnetic lock works by using a strong electromagnet in the door frame to hold onto the plate in the door itself. Magnetism holds the door shut unless the access control system grants access and runs an electrical current through the lock. This safe current disables the magnetism temporarily, allowing the door to swing open.

Unlike electric locks, magnetic locks can only be fail-secure. If there is no power to the lock, the door cannot be opened. As magnetic locks can apply forces of more than 1200 pounds, it may be physically impossible for a person to open this door if they don’t have an access card. And, even if they do, if the main power and backup power systems have failed, it may still be impossible.

Magnetic locks are also simpler to install than electric locks. They offer much more strength and security but can also be more costly. Building codes may prohibit them in some circumstances.

Which Should You Choose?

Choosing between electric and magnetic locks is about balancing your needs for security and safety, as well as price point and reliability. Here are some questions to ask to help you make the decision:

  • Do you want fail-safe locks? If your application calls for fail-safe locks or building codes demand you use fail-safe locks on this door, then you need to choose an electric lock.
  • What are your security needs? High-security situations often call for magnetic locks. The front doors for headquarters of major corporations are often magnetic locks. Doors for rooms with valuables, biohazard risks, trade secrets, or dangers often also call for magnetic locks.
  • What is your budget? If your security needs are borderline and you could choose either lock type, consider if you want to pay for the expense of magnetic locks.

Does fail-secure make sense? Fail-secure doors are more secure and reliable. However, they also add liability. You will need to make sure backup systems are always in excellent condition, or you could trap someone in the room or building during an emergency.

Get in touch today with our professional commercial doors and repairs in Stockton team.