Some locksmiths prefer to not use electromagnetic locks. They prefer conventional latching hardware, preferably without any wires. This philosophy puts them at a severe disadvantage with the rest of the industry, and with clients who know about electromagnetic locks, and demand them. Part...
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Some locksmiths prefer to not use electromagnetic locks. They prefer conventional latching hardware, preferably without any wires. This philosophy puts them at a severe disadvantage with the rest of the industry, and with clients who know about electromagnetic locks, and demand them.
Part of this reluctance can be attributed to the locksmith industry’s legendary adherence to traditions of quality, reliability and safety. These are all excellent concepts which contribute to the professionalism of locksmiths.
But some of the reluctance to electromagnetic locks is based on old habits and perhaps ignorance.
Those old school locksmiths who are reluctant to tune in and turn onto electromagnetic locks (and anything with wires for that matter) may have been at some point in past times somewhat justified due to the red tape and confusion surrounding the attributes and legalities surrounding maglocks and security electronics in general.
I have used maglocks since I first entered the security industry, and even then, electromagnets were not exactly new technology.
The industry was, and continues to go through a learning curve with respect to safe and proper electromagnetic lock deployment and safe electromagnetic system design. At the same time, the locking technologies available to us continue to evolve and improve.
Please do not get me wrong. I too determine the best locking solution for every opening and every application. Electromagnetic locks definitely have their place, as do positive latching locking solutions. But I must confess: I’m wired and increasingly wireless too. It’s time to get with the program.
Until very recently, maglocks were simply that: magnetic locks. The armature mounted on the door, the electrically energized portion of the lock mounted on the frame, and you applied power to lock it, and disconnected power to unlock it. There was no integral circuitry to control or monitor the lock, and no integral means to release it.
The maglock was relatively simple to install, but installing it in conjunction within a life safety oriented system was hardly intuitive, frequently misunderstood, and all too often not done.
A Brief History of Electomagnetic Locks:
Irv Saperstein, (the founder of Locknetics) built the first magnetic lock in 1969. Mag locks were marketed through locksmith and specialty systems distribution. They were used by the military and on commercial and industrial applications by door control professionals.
Curiously the electromagnetic lock was not patented until 1989, (by Arthur, Richard and David Geringer of Security Door Controls) Editor’s Note: The patent expired on May 2, 2009.
Once maglocks started to become more widely known and were being installed by less qualified persons such as electricians and burglar alarm dealers, the problems started. Maglocks were consequently being unsafely installed in all sorts of inappropriate applications. This resulted in people getting trapped in burning buildings; people getting sued, and authorities becoming upset and turning against electromagnetic locks.
Being electrically operated; a security device; and also inherently affecting the safety of the occupants of building upon which they were installed; electromagnet locks were subject to inspection and approval by local authority having jurisdiction (LAHJ).
TESTING & CERTIFICATIONS
Approval by the LAHJ should not be confused with “UL Approval.” The AHJ is a local authority (such as the Fire Marshal, Building Department Inspector, etc) having jurisdiction over buildings within a defined area.
Underwriters Laboratory (UL) is a national testing lab which does not approve anything: (There is no such thing as “UL Approved.” UL tests things, rather than approves things.)
A product that has passed UL tests will get one of three titles: “UL Listed,” “UL Recognized” or “UL Certified.”
Electromagnetic locks are sometimes regarded as an “idiot-proof locking solution” for unskilled installers or for use on problem doors.