You may have run into a few different options for exterior door hardware. Deciding between panic hardware and fire exit hardware may be confusing to some, especially if you don’t know the differences between the two or where one may be more useful than the other.

Most of the differences are code related, as some codes and buildings will require fire exit hardware instead of panic hardware, or vice versa. You may also run into regulations regarding how the doors open, and whether or not they can have their latches retracted for a push and pull function.

Let’s take a closer look at the differences in the two hardware types and which one would be better suited for your needs.

Panic Hardware

For exterior doors that are not going to be used as an emergency fire exit, or for interior doors that divide areas of your facility, panic hardware is perfectly viable. Unlike fire exit hardware, panic hardware will offer a “dogging” feature that allows you to retract the latch and create a simple push and pull function.

This increases the usable lifespan of the hardware by limiting how often it is latched and unlatched throughout the day. This also reduces the sound of the door which makes it a great option for interior doors that divide certain areas of your facility such as those around a cafeteria or meeting space.

When it comes to the regulations with the NFPA 101 as well as the IBC, panic hardware should meet or exceed UL 305 requirements. When installing any hardware on your interior or exterior doors, always be sure you work with experienced consultants to ensure your hardware installation meets or exceeds UL requirements.

For proper installation of panic hardware, some of the most noted requirements for the device are that it should be able to unlatch with less than 15 pounds of pressure on the push pad mechanism. In addition, the push pad should meet specified measurements such as being less than one-half the width of the entire door when measured from the latch mechanism.

Fire Exit Hardware

Unlike the previously mentioned panic hardware, fire exit hardware does not offer the same “dogging” function on the internal latching mechanism. Instead, it provides positive latching that is designed for durability and longevity.

In order to get the same push and pull function as you would with a dogged panic door, you would need to install electric latch retraction hardware. However, these will need to be tied into the fire alarm system so it is important that you work with a Harnock-Hersey or UL experienced consultant.

Fire exit hardware should meet or exceed the UL 10-C and UL 305 requirements in both the NFPA 101 and IBC. Like the panic hardware, a fire exit door should not take more than 15 pounds of pressure on the push pad or other opening mechanism to unlatch and provide quick exiting from the building.

Our experts at CLAD can help you choose the right door closers.