One of the challenges facing locksmiths installing access control is providing the correct locking device for the application.
The electric locking device is perhaps the most important component in an access control system. The electric lock has to be reliable, and cannot compromise the safety and security of the opening.
How does the locksmith determine the best electronic locking device for a particular application? The steps are:
- Determine if the door is labeled, if it is subject to the life safety sections of the relevant building code(s) based on the site’s Occupancy classification.
- Find a locking device that will fit on the opening and retrofit to existing hardware on the door.
- Develop a design for power and auxiliary control to the locking device.
Key questions to answer include:
- How secure must the lock be?
- Should it be failsafe or failsecure?
- Is the door a means of egress?
- Is the hardware going to be installed on an interior or exterior door? Will the door be subject to abuse or vandals?
- Do aesthetics matter?
- Is the opening fire rated?
- What type of mechanical lockset (mortise, cylindrical or rim) is used?
- Is the door swinging or sliding?
Also, make sure the door is in good condition before installing the lock. Check that it swings freely; the door closer works correctly and the door does not drag or interfere with the frame or saddle.
Three Problem Scenarios
When the subject of electric locking devices comes up, I think of three situations I have encountered during my tenure in the security industry. (Readers should feel free to submit their own experiences relating to electric locking hardware to the editor of the Locksmith Ledger, and we can compare notes in a future column.)
1. Mass marketing of electromagnetic locks and the improper deployment of electromagnetic locking systems resulted in the banning of their use. Initially maglocks were used only for specialized applications, and installed only by locksmiths. When maglocks were introduced into national distribution, their price went down and other trades such as alarm installers and electricians installed them as a quick fix locking solution. Some highly publicized tragedies resulted from entrapment due to maglocks, leading to restrictive codes or outright bans.
2. Early inexpensive electric strikes were destined to break, especially those used in multi-tenant housing where the main entry door was connected to each apartment’s intercom to allow buzzing people in. Building owners wanted the least expensive lock possible; the intercom installer complied, and then the callback started. Replacing these pot metal strikes was one of the first recurring revenue streams for the security industry.
3. Some electric locking solutions were easily bypassed. There was a perfectly secure opening until the access control installer rendered it less secure by either using the wrong lock, improperly installing it, or failing to provide ancillary measures to prevent the lock from being bypassed.
The idea is we learn from our mistakes, isn’t it?
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With regards to matching a strike to a mortise lock, several variables determine which electric strike will work best: the dimensional profile of the latchbolt, auxiliary latch and deadbolt.
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