Electrifying Existing Hardware

March 1, 2006
Locksmiths can provide electrified access control for specific applications by electrifying existing lock hardware.

As the world turns faster and faster, the needs of safety, convenience and accountability are ever increasing. Companies are turning to electronic security to control who and when a person can gain access. They are starting to want to know the who and which -- the day and time the person gained entry and also who wanted to gain entry when they were not authorized.

This evolution from mechanical and manual to electronic and power operated has been evolving for many years. More companies that cater to the general public are using power operators, eliminating the necessity for the customer to manually open a door. Access control can include providing hands-free access. As an example, supermarkets were one of the first businesses that I remember that eliminated the need to manually open a door, probably saving money while lessening the costs of door repairs and glass replacement due to errant shopping carts, and the lawsuits that may have followed.

Decades ago the markets had rubber mats and protective railings for power operators that opened and closed the swing entrance and exit doors. Today, door control has evolved to power-operated sliding doors providing both entry and exit, eliminating the railings and rubber mats.

Businesses are driven by the demand for higher profits, while trying to keep costs under control. The increasing demand for improved forms of access control is resulting in the increased demand for competitively priced electronically controlled locks.

We as locksmiths have the opportunity to provide electrified access control for specific applications by electrifying existing lock hardware. This can be a win-win situation for the facility by providing the wanted/necessary access control, while saving the company money.

However, there are a number of points that must be considered.

The first and foremost is to always discuss the installation, prior to purchasing hardware or beginning the work, with the Local Authority Having Jurisdiction (LAHJ). If the job is of a significant size, you may consider discussing the job with the lock hardware retrofitter, lock hardware manufacturer and/or calling a consultant prior to a meeting with a LAHJ.

Prior to discussion with the LAHJ, I would strongly recommend knowing the laws, codes, and/or regulations for the area in which the job is located. Different areas can have different regulations. Also check the LAHJ web site to see if they offer information regarding fire-rated openings and associated hardware.

When informally meeting with a LAHJ, bring a drawing of the floor plan, drawing(s) of the anticipated modifications to the door/frame with cut sheets and installation instructions from the products you are considering installing. Each entry should have separate drawings and cut sheets. An additional reason for doing this is to find out if the modifications to the lock or device can make it inappropriate for the application.

Remember: Instructions for a Listed product should cover the anticipated installation.

If the anticipated installation is appropriate, the LAHJ may give you input such as, “If I saw this on the door, I probably would not have a problem with it.” The LAHJ may indicate that the job would not be in violation. You are there for an informal meeting and should not expect to receive approval that would require a formal meeting/inspection after the installation.

The LAHJ has the ultimate authority. During an inspection, the LAHJ can determine the door does not meet code. This means the LAHJ can pull the occupancy permit, forcing the building to be vacated until the situation has been remedied.

Getting to the actual job: Are any of the entries fire rated? (You know, those doors and jambs that have painted over Listing labels.) Very few modifications can be made to a fire-rated opening at the job site. The fire-rated opening includes the door and the jamb.

The National Fire Protection Association publishes NFPA Pamphlet 80, the Standard for Fire Doors and Fire Windows. This standard is commonly used by most LAHJ. Paragraph 1-3.4 specifies preparation for most hardware, including electrified hardware, shall be performed in accordance with the manufacturer’s inspection service procedure and under label service. This means the preparation of the door and frame necessary for the installation of the electrified hardware takes place in the factory. This paragraph has an exception that details those preparations that are permitted at the job site. The exception does not cover raceway drilling, a critical preparation for electrified hardware.

Raceway drilling at the jobsite will almost always require the re-inspection of the labeled fire-rated opening by an agency acceptable to the LAHJ. The agency that issued the label on the door can usually offer the field inspection service. Check with the LAHJ for agencies that are acceptable for field inspection of the modified fire-rated opening.

Under special circumstances, you may be able to eliminate the re-inspection of the labeled fire-rated door by a third party agency if the following conditions are met:

1. You can determine the manufacturer of the door.

2. The door manufacturer is authorized to drill a raceway in the door as part of their Listing and labeling service.

3. You are able to remove the door from the opening and transport the door to the manufacturer where the modifications to the door can be completed in the factory under the Listing and labeling service.

NOTE: Before removing a door, contact the LAHJ and discuss if the situation permits it.

4. It is always prudent to check with the LAHJ prior to any modifications on the door and/or frame.

You may be asking yourself why raceway drilling is such a big deal. When part of the fire-rated door is removed during the drilling process, the overall material thickness of the door available to retard burn through during a fire has been reduced. If not done properly, the modified door may no longer offer the fire protection for the rated duration on the label, typically 20 minutes. Care should be taken to center the raceway and keep the diameter to no more than the maximum permitted diameter for the door construction, This is typically 1/4 to 3/8 inch. Special tools are available for just this purpose. Fire-rated power transfer hinges are available to gap the interface between the door and the frame. All hardware used in conjunction with the electrified hardware should be fire-rated and labeled or deemed acceptable by the LAHJ.

From my experience, the best method to ensure a raceway is centered in the door is to drill the door from one side using a specialized tool designed for that purpose. Note: However, check with the listing agency that lists the door. The agency may refer you to a tool or process they will recognize, thereby allowing them to re-certify the opening.

When electrifying existing hardware, we strongly recommend using products from a lock manufacturer or re-modifier. The electrified hardware should bear a label. Hardware that has been electrified by a re-modifier will also bear a label indicating the lock product has been modified according to listing agency’s approved specifications.

IMPORTANT: For a re-modifier to electrify existing lock hardware, the lock hardware will need to be a fire-rated lock if it is installed into a fire-rated opening. You can tell if the lock hardware is fire rated by looking at the latch plate for the letter “F” and the listing agencies' logos.

If the door is not fire-rated, work must still be completed according to the guidelines of Life-Safety.

Note: When in doubt, contact the local authority having jurisdiction.

When electrifying a cylindrical or mortise lock, the classroom or storeroom functions are usually the models that are retrofit, depending upon the lock and the manufacturer. In most instances, a passage lock cannot be electrified.

One of the advantages of electrifying existing lock hardware, specifically a mortise lock, is eliminating the possibility of trim compatibility problems. When a mortise lock is equipped with escutcheon trim, the positions of the openings are critical. Sometimes requiring that same mortise lock model be electrified, and eliminating the possibility of an alternative.

An advantage of working with a re-modifier is the possibility of electrifying your customer’s locks or lock hardware. In addition, a re-modifier may provide a loaner product during the time your lock is being electrified.

IMPORTANT: Modifying voids the original manufacturer’s warranty.

For more information on electrifying existing hardware, contact the following remodifiers:

Note: Be sure to discuss the lock manufacturer and model of each lock to be electrified as each remodifier has its own list of locks that can be electrified.

Architectural Controls System, Inc.
10666 Gateway Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63132
Telephone: 800-753-5558
Web Site: www.acsi-inc.com

As an added service, ACSI can provide riser diagrams and point to point wiring diagrams that interface our product with access control supplied by others.

Command Access Technologies
2386 E. Walnut Ave
Fullerton, CA 92831
Telephone: 888-622-2377
Web Site: www.commandaccess.com

52 Laxalt Drive
Mound House, NV 89706
Telephone 800-500-1449
Web Site www.marray.com

Marray offers locksmiths the ability to get information about electrifying their locks. Send three pictures: the door front, side, and rear views showing the lock. Marray will provide information and costs regarding electrification. Email pictures to [email protected] Title the subject heading “Pictures of Door.” Cell phone camera pictures accepted.

OSI Security Devices
1580 Jayken Way,
Chula Vista, CA 91911
Phone: 619-628-1000
Web site: www.omnilock.com

Security Door Controls
3580 Willow Lane
Westlake Village, CA 91361
Telephone: 805-494-0622
Web Site: www.sdcsecurity.com

Garrett Tom has over 24 years experience in the product testing and certification industry. Recently employed by Underwriters Laboratories Inc., Garret went on to found Product Certification Consultants LLC. The Product Certification Consultants web site www.productcc.com Telephone 408-264-0131.