Giving Exit Devices a New Look

May 23, 2023

What do you do when you have a well-known, well-respected product in the market that’s getting a little long in the tooth? You remake it even better.

That’s essentially what ASSA ABLOY has done with its new exit device lines: SARGENT and Corbin Russwin have released redesigned models with an eye toward the future.

As you might suspect from the names, the new exit devices are based on the venerable 80 Series for SARGENT and ED4000/5000 Series for Corbin Russwin but futureproofed, says Mia Merrel, director of product management, commercial mechanical products at ASSA ABLOY.

“‘What does the future of our exit devices look like?’ That was kind of the impetus to start this project, because we needed to design for the future, and we believe that we’ve done that here,” she says. “Now, if you look at the design, you’ll see that it’s bigger than our design today, which means we have room for whatever the future throws at us.”

And what does that future look like? Electronic, of course. Merrel notes that a couple of features that required a larger design include redesigned electric latch retraction and delayed-egress mechanisms. There also was consideration for further electronic access control features, although nothing specific has been determined.

“We can’t predict exactly what’s going to happen, but we wanted to have some additional real estate in there in case we need to throw additional functionality on,” she says. “So we thought, ‘This was our chance. Let’s build it in now, and then whatever comes in the future, we can accommodate that.’”

The PE80 and PED4000/5000 were expected to be available by the time you read this. Locksmith Ledger had the opportunity to view the exit devices during their development, and regardless of what the future holds, there already is a lot for the locksmith now.

Grand Designs

The new exit devices aren’t replacements for the older models. The 80 and 4000/5000 series will remain in production for the foreseeable future.

Part of the reason for that is the aesthetics of the new exit devices, says David Higginson, director of business development with SARGENT and Corbin Russwin.

“Based on what we came up with as far as a design, [the new models are] totally different from any exit device out in the market today,” he says. “When you look at the potential of possibly adding on to a building or replacing an existing device if we would discontinue [the older series], having them right next to each other wouldn’t be aesthetically pleasing to the owner.”

The first thing that’s noticeable about the new exit devices is that the push pad has a more integral design with the exit device bar. When the door is closed, the push pad is flush with the rest of the bar instead of raised.

The PED4000/5000 push bar more resembles the so-called “mushroom” shape of a standard exit device, but both series are essentially the same in that pushing in the bar would cause an apparent “indent” if you viewed the exit device from above.

That more modernized look also delivers practical benefits in that it contributes to the exit devices’ lack of catch points. This is important in hospitals or warehouses where people push equipment that can bang against doors and exit devices.

“There shouldn't be any damage associated to carts or gurneys catching the push rail itself and knocking the device off,” Higginson says. “Having it flush all the way across the bar will eliminate that.”

Another new feature that should help with the exit devices’ durability is a more substantial end cap. Higginson says that as the new exit devices were going through development, feedback from people who worked in hospitals, hotels and schools was consistent.

“The No. 1 item that they kept on bringing up was that end cap HAS to stay on,” he says. “It has to be able to take the impact and stay on.”

On the PE80 and PED4000/5000, the end cap is more integral to the overall design, engaging deeper into the bar. The end cap also has been “beefed up” with the addition of a heavy stainless casting and a stainless steel scalp, Higginson says.

The integral design also fits in with the company’s desire to eliminate catchpoints, Merrel adds.

“If you’re running down a hallway or running to your gate at the airport, your bag won’t get caught on it,” she says. “It’s more of a deflection point.”

Easy Does It

Upon launch, the PE80 and PED 4000/5000 will come in many if not all of the same variations of the older exit devices and include most if not all of the same functions, Merrel says, adding that a new double request-to-exit switch will be available.

Rim, mortise, narrow and wide, as well as concealed and surface vertical-rod models will be available. The availability of narrow and wide trim on both SARGENT and Corbin Russwin models is new. Previously, SARGENT had only narrow available, while Corbin Russwin had wide.

When it comes to vertical-rod models, the new exit devices have a feature that should prove beneficial to locksmiths: center adjustability of the vertical rods. Higginson notes that the ED4000/5000 has this feature as well but says “it’s not very user-friendly.” That will change with the new models.

The process is described as simple as removing the chassis cover and independently adjusting the top or bottom bolt up to three-quarters of an inch in either direction by turning a single hex head screw. Locksmiths “no longer would have to take the door down or get on their knees or on a ladder to adjust the top or bottom bolts,” Higginson says.

This was all part of the planning for the new exit devices, Merrel says. Making sure that the new exit devices would be easy to install was at the top of their demands, with maintenance next.

“We’re trying to make this easy for anyone going forward,” she says.

However, Merrel cautions that the installation won’t be identical to that of the older series, so a locksmith should make sure to read the instructions at least the first time they install one of the new exit devices to catch the slight differences.

Also, Merrel notes that there’s a slight difference between the SARGENT and Corbin Russwin models if the installation is a direct replacement of a previous model. Whereas the SARGENT PE80 will be a drop-in replacement, the Corbin Russwin PED4000 or 5000 has a different mounting configuration, so it will require a small scar plate that can ordered along with the exit device “to cover the sins of the past,” she says.

Another feature that covers ease of installation as well as futureproofing — and should prove to be music to locksmiths’ ears — is that the new exit devices will have a center wiring channel. That means you won’t have to core the door if the customer wants to electrify the opening later.

“This is really big for the SARGENT side of things,” Higginson says, adding that Corbin Russwin has had this capability on older models but not SARGENT. “It’s definitely an enhancement for both brands but probably moreso for SARGENT.”

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