Exit Device Basics

Exit devices are known by different names including the crash bar, panic bar, panic device, panic hardware, fire exit bolt, push bar and cross bar.


Important: Prior to purchasing and installing exit devices, contact the Local Authority Having Jurisdiction (LAHJ) to ensure the products to be installed meet their criterion.

Most exit devices can be installed onto wood, hollow metal and aluminum doors as long as the stile is compatible with the device. There are exit devices for aluminum glass doors with narrow stiles. The narrow stile pushpad exit device has a narrow center case or chassis. The standard stile exit device chassis is usually more than two inches wide, where the narrow stile exit device chassis is less than two inches wide. For example, the Falcon, Monarch and Dor-O-Matic exit devices are compatible with aluminum stiles as narrow as 1-3/4”.

Depending upon the manufacturer and the model, exit devices are manufactured in a variety of metals. DORMA 9000 Series exit devices are corrosion-resistant, heavy gauge stainless steel.

Exit devices can be installed with or without exterior trim. Trim choices include pull handles, keyed trim, electrified trim and lever trim. Cal-Royal offers cylindrical lock lever trim that enables the exterior trim for their exit devices in order to be compatible with existing door hardware. Remember, the width of the stile affects the dimensions of the exit device and the trim.

For commercial applications, the Ervos X61 series exit device retrofits to a standard 161 (cylindrical lock) cutout. The X61 complies with the requirements of ADA. The Ervos X61 Series single door exit device is available in a variety of architectural finishes and paint colors.

Exit devices are differentiated as being fire rated or non-fire rated (panic). The less expensive panic exit devices are installed onto a non-fire rated doors. Fire rated exit devices are designed for installation onto fire rated doors. Fire rated exit device hardware is manufactured to accommodate the requirements for a fire rated opening. A fire rated exit device will have a fire label prominently located on the device often on the lock edge of the cover. If there is no label, the device cannot be considered fire rated.

Fire rated exit devices cannot be equipped with mechanical dogging as a fire rated opening must be able to have the exit device lock mechanism to latch during a fire. The electrified dogging on a fire rated exit device must be wired through the fire alarm system that would release the dogging mechanism, enabling the latch to latch should there be a fire. Non-fire rated exit devices can be mechanically dogged using an Allen wrench type key. As an alternative, lock cylinder dogging requires a properly cut key to engage or release the dogging mechanism.

The types of panic and fire rated exit devices installed onto a door or pair of doors vary depending upon the application for the opening and the aesthetics of the architect. Lock manufacturers including Sargent Lock, offer a variety of exit devices including; heavy duty, commercial, light commercial and aesthetic styled exit devices.

Exit devices can accommodate single-door and double-door applications. A double-door opening can be configured with or without a mullion. A mullion is metal rectangular tube specifically designed to be mounted to the floor and the doorjamb header. The mullion is located in the center of the opening, providing latching points for each door lock. The mullion enables both doors to be equipped with either a rim or mortise lock exit device instead of at least one vertical rod exit device. There are permanent and removable mullions. The disadvantage of a mullion is it cuts the clear opening in half. A clear opening is the distance between the two opened doors or the door and the mullion, measuring from the two obstructions that extend into the opening. An obstruction can be the exit device rails and pads or the mullion.

To increase the clear opening, companies have integrated the exit device into the face of the door. This reduces the height of the push bar, providing an increased opening. The Adams Rite RITE Door® can be ordered with the exit device is recessed into the face of the door.

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