Most of us have probably heard that sound—a buzz indicating a door has been unlocked. But have you ever thought about how it’s possible to open a door with just a touch of a button? The answer: electric strikes.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at electric strike locks and how they function. We will also be discussing the advantages of having electric strikes installed at your facility, as well as any potential drawbacks.

What is an Electric Strike?

An electric strike is defined as an electromechanical door locking device that functions with mortise lockets, rim exit devices, or cylindrical locksets. Electric strikes are used instead of regular, standard strikes in the door jamb.  An electric strike is electrified (i.e. it gets power).

Electric strikes were initially designed to secure doors in industrial and commercial applications with heavy traffic—places that require access control systems. Many facilities, businesses, buildings and property owners have started to use this type of access control device due to its high-level security features.

How Electric Strike Works

An electric strike lock works by replacing the standard strike—a metal plate with a hole that can be found in the door frame—with an energized strike. One side of the latter is cut out and replaced with a piece of metal that’s been hinged. Once activated, the metal part swings, similar to a saloon door, and releases the latch, unlocking the door and allowing access.

Electric strikes are (typically) built to always remain locked from the outside. This type of lock allows the door to (once closed) automatically fasten in a locked position.  To ensure the door closes fully, additional hardware such as closers or operators must be used as well.

Advantages of an Electric Strike

Electric StrikesThis type of lock is ideal for use in places where a lot of security is required, or else in areas that have been previously broken into. It’s important to note, however, that the electric strike lock may not allow access to some people (i.e. children), as it is more secure during the night.

There is a wide range of locks that can be used in conjunction with an electric strike such as traditional mortise locks, panic hardware, exit devices and cylindrical locks.  When using electric strikes, it’s necessary to ensure you have the correct one that matches the specific locking hardware that you currently have installed on the door.

Another benefit of using an electric strike is lower-cost installation. Since electric strikes can be easier and faster to install, it often take less time to get them installed. Therefore, typically, you can expect your materials and labor to cost not so much more than it would if you were to opt for a standard strike installation (i.e. non-electrified hardware).  However, other access control components, such as wiring or wire run, electrified hinges, may still be necessary additions to an access control project.  In addition, some frames may require modification in order to install an electric strike.

In terms of accessibility, electric strikes can be connected to a door buzzer system. This lets you allow a person entry even from the comfort of your desk with a push of a button. An electric strike and keypad are also useful because no key is necessary. To allow access, you simply share the code to the person entering your premises.  Or electric strikes can be used with card readers (i.e. HID readers) and allow access via fob or card swipe.

What is Electric Strike Release?

An electric door release (or electric strike release) is the action of releasing the latch when operating the electric strike.  As mentioned, electric strikes are meant to ensure the door stays in a locked position.  When the electric strike is released, the latch is released as well which enables the door to open.

Electric door releases or electric strike releases, as part of an electric strike, are an integral component of the actions taken within an electric strike (and as part of an access control system solution).

What is a Fail Secure Electric Strike?

A fail-secure electric strike is necessary for a fire-rated entrances. This device will stay locked during a power outage, serving as a safe option because it keeps the building secure and will not allow entry even when there’s no power.

In the case of a fire, a fail secure electric strike helps to deter spreading of the fire and smoke throughout the facility or building by ensuring each opening is locked during power failure (hence the name “fail secure”).  This helps to contain and compartmentalize the fire. The use of fail secure electric strikes can help to save lives in emergency situations and is an important part of life safety code compliance.

However, while no one can get in from the outside, exiting from the inside is always possible. You can use a panic bar or other exit device to leave the property since the electric strike is only locked from the outside.  This is referred to as free egress – the ability to always be able to leave a building freely (even when the door is locked from entry from the outside).  Again, this is very important in larger buildings and facilities to allow individuals to exit in the case of an emergency.

What is a Fail-Safe Electric Strike?

A fail-safe electric strike is the opposite of a fail-secure lock. In the event of a power loss, this type of mechanism will unlock—allowing anyone free access to the property.

Challenges to Expect When Using Electric Strikes

Unauthorized Access

An electric strike may be activated using a card reader or keypad. Anyone who goes in and out of the property needs either one of these two items to gain access quickly. Although, there are some access control system companies that have developed means of using one’s mobile phone instead of a key card. The risk with using readers, cards and fobs is it makes your system more prone to tampering or even worse, vandalism. When using your phone in lieu of the card it can be more secure. However, you still need to make sure that you don’t lose your phone.  If someone finds it and can unlock it, then they also can use it to gain entry.

The good news is many access control systems in the market these days are designed with cutting-edge features (i.e. connected to camera and intrusion systems), making it more difficult for would-be intruders.

Loss of Card

If you have electric strikes that require a card for access, it’s important to always keep your card safe. These access cards serve as keys and in some instances, they are quite expensive to replace. Losing your card can prevent you from accessing your office building.

What is a Monitored Electric Strike?

There are many products available on the market today that offer either latch or solenoid monitoring as a means to prevent accidental security breaches, particularly when there is an attempted break-in or the doors stay slightly open.

Perfect for use on buildings that require multiple external doors, a monitored electric strike helps you keep track of which doors are locked and which ones aren’t. It’s an essential investment for industrial and commercial properties where many people need access on a daily basis.

Conclusion

Electric strikes are easy to use and, for the security professional, relatively easy to install –making them a great option to electrify your opening.  Choosing an access control system (which most often will involve installation of electric strikes) will definitely help to keep the people and property within your building, safe and secure at all times.

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