The family of electrical locking devices available to the door control designer is ever-growing. It’s imperative that the system designer/installer stay educated informed and up to date on all locking technology. This enables the system designer more options and enables that the proper locking device be specified for each application. Well, at least that’s the way it should be.
However, in the real world, lock specification is instead directed by other priorities such as:
– The architect liked it: (“I Love the Luster!”)
– Cost (“What’s the cheapest thing you got?”)
– Ease of installation (“Stand back Dave, I’ll make it fit”)
– What already in stock (“If I don’t get that thing off the truck soon, it’ll be too road-burned to sell”)
– What was used on the last job seemed to work OK (“They haven’t called so it must be working”).
We are all creatures of habit to some extent, so why not develop some good ones?
Here’s a list of locking devices used for electronic door control.
– Electric Strikes
– Electric Bolts
– Electrically actuated cylindrical locks
– Electrically actuated mortise locks
– Electrical latch retraction devices
– Electrically actuated trim
– Motorized electric locking devices
– Shear Locks
– Standalone Access Controls
– Standalone Egress Controls
– Electromagnetic Locks
On my list, electromagnetic locks are last but definitely not least, but it’s hard to determine where the electromagnetic locks rank of importance in the evolution of access control. It can be said that they’re perfect for many applications; and there has never been a better assortment of them from which the system designer can select.
The characteristics that set electromagnetic locks apart from all other electric locks are:
1. They usually have no moving parts.
2. There is no integral means of unlocking them.
3. They are fail-safe and require power in order to lock and power to be removed for them to unlock.
THE EASY WAY OUT?
Having no moving parts, electromagnetic locks are sometimes regarded as an “idiot-proof locking solution” for unskilled installers or for use on problem doors. Consequently, many electromagnetic locks are installed unsafely.
Although it is true that electromagnetic locks are relatively simple to mount on a door and a door frame (essentially requiring less than ten holes to be drilled), those other two inherent characteristics (they have no integral means of unlocking them and they are fail-safe and require power in order to lock and power to be removed for them to unlock) make the proper application of electromagnetic locking systems something to be attempted by a qualified locksmith.
Installation of electromagnetic locking systems requires proper system design and skill. It should be treated as serious business because if not done properly, electromagnetic locks can be hazardous to building occupants (even trapping occupants in a burning building).
Electromagnetic locks have NEITHER levers nor buttons on them to unlock them, so thought and planning must be put into where they are used and the design of the system that controls them so that they are safe for the building occupants.
THINK LIKE THE LAHJ
Misapplication has earned electromagnetic locks a bad reputation among building inspectors and fire marshals.
Be sure that electromagnetic locks are permitted in your jurisdiction, and even better, document your installation, listing the components you plan to use, how it will be wired and the location of the door on which it is to be installed, and arrange a meeting with your LAHJ (local authority having jurisdiction) to go over it with him. Although electromagnetic locking systems are widely deployed, your LAHJ will have the final word.
Manufacturers of electromagnetic locks and accessories design their products to meet many standards of manufacturing quality and code compliance, and the reputable manufacturers have help available on-line, via help desks or through their national network of skilled reps.