What is an Electric Strike and Why you Need it for an Access Control System

The Electric Strike is Hidden, but Plays an Important Role

Electric Strikes are the most popular type of electified door harware used for an access control system. Although other options exist, such as a maglock, they are not as simple to install.

Unlike card readers, which are visibile and interactive with users, electric strikes are hidden in the door jamb and go unnoticed.  That being said, they play a very important role.  

Access Control DiagramThe card reader verifies a persons credential and connects to the control panel input.  On the other hand, the electric strike connects to the output and unlocks as a result of “access granted”.

Choosing the right door strike your access control system involves several factors.  Most important is the type of opening, life safety, and building codes.

Although electric strikes are the most common, you may also consider electronic bolts, locksets, and maglocks.

What is Fail Safe and Fail Secure?

The terms Fail Safe and Fail Secure are used to describe the behaviour of electrified door hardware when power is removed. 

When fail safe locks lose power, they default to an unsecured position. For example, a power outage would result in an unlocked front door with a fail safe lock. Although electric strikes can be fail safe, the most common is a maglock or magnetic door lock.

On the other hand, when fail secure locks lose power, they default to a locked or secure position. The result is a door that’s kept locked. The most common fail secure lock is an electric strike.

How does an electric strike work?

Electric strikes are the most common electrified door hardware. They intend to provide secure access to high traffic commercial areas and buildings.

Electric door strikes work with cylindrical locksets, mortise lockets, or rim exit devices. Their construction allows a mechanical latch to swing out of the way of an opening door. When access is approved, electric strikes release the lock remotely through switches.  

Electric strikes are designed to allow access even when the door handle is locked.

Electric Strike Surface Mount
Electric Strike
Electric Strike Flush Mount

Door strikes come in two stylessurface mount or flush mount. The surface mount is necessary when the door has a panic bar, while the flush mount is used with regular door handles.

Electric door strikes can be purchased with latch position sensors, which tells the control panel that the door is open.  

Door and Frame Types

First you need to identify which doors need to be secured.  Are you going to control access to exterior doors only or do you want to control interior doors as well?  

Door DiagramA low-level understanding of door types is important. While door sizes and appearance may vary, commercial door openings typically have the same elements. 

Which Frame do you have?

Once you identify the doors you want to control, knowing the frame type is important because it affects the cost. The frame is the part that attaches to the wall and holds the door leaf.

The sides of the door frame, that run vertically, are called the door jamb.  There’s one on each side.  The top of the frame is the head, which runs horzontally. 

Most commercial businesses have aluminum or metal door frames. For the most part, they are the easiest to retrofit with a door strike. Alternatively, wood frames and frameless glass doors are the most difficult.retrofit

Which Frames are Easiest?

Hollow Metal and Aluminum Frames are the easiest and least expensive to work with. On occassion, depending on construction and the age of the building, there could be obstructions in the frame. As a result, it’s more complicated and expensive.  Likewise, Wood Frames can be problematic as the frame is difficult to cut.

Frameless Glass Doors are the most complicated to secure with an electric strike. Obviously there is no frame, therefore a special electric strike is required.  Further to this, it’s difficult to bring cable to the door strike.

Double Doors

Double doors are more difficult to secure, especially when a mullion is not present. The mullion comes fixed, between the two door leaves, as a permanent part of the door frame.  Importantly, it contains the cutout for the latches on the door, and is used to mount the door strike.

On the other hand, when a mullion is not present, the double doors will come with vertical rods. They secure the door latches to the top and bottom edges and require a different type of electrified hardware.

Is the Electric Strike the Only Choice?

Electric strikes are the most common and easiest to install, however, there are different types of electrified door hardware.  Obviously, each one has a purpose and helps achieve the security level required. 

For example, a maglock is the best option to secure a door from both sides – entry and exit.  In addition to this, there is specialty electrified door hardware for securing gates, cages, and cabinets.

People must always be able to freely exit a building.  This is the most important rule when your securing a door. In particular, be sure to check the local building codes and life safety plan. 

Access Control GuideIf you liked this article, you may want to also read about maglocks. If you are looking for an access control system, you may want to download our Ultimate Access Control Guide, or visit our access control page, to learn more about key fob systems.

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2020-06-15T14:49:13-04:00

About the Author:

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At the age of 24, with no experience in the security industry or any money in the bank, Carlo quit his job and started Spotter Security from his parent's basement. Founded in 2004, Spotter grew from a single man operation into a multi-million dollar security system integrator that caters to businessess and construction sites across Canada.