Overview of Electric Locks
With the modern affordable smart and electric locks, more and more people start to forget what the initial key problems looked like. Now, if you lock your keys in or lose them in the depths of your bag, well, nothing happens. You just come up to the door and unlock it with a pin, a touch, a phone or whatever. The need for carrying around a physical keychain with you is slowly fading into the past.
But what are those electric locks? How are they different from what we are used to? In some cases, there is almost no visible difference. In others, your locking mechanism is visually transformed, say, into a screen. Yet the doors setting maintains similar components: door, cabling, locks and readers. There are four types of locks: magnetic, electromechanical, electric mortise and panic bars. All of them are suitable to work with keyless ACS.
Let us see how these locks work before examining some of the most popular examples.
Electric Lock Types
Magnetic locks use electromagnets (obviously) as locking mechanisms. They were introduced to unlock entrances with no place for regular locks - glass doors. This is what makes them perfect for modern offices and malls. However, they are also installed on other types of doors.
Magnetic locks use a powerful electromagnet and a metal plate attached to the door to keep it shut or open. When a magnet is powered, the entrance is locked. To unlock it, one should disconnect electric power (by entering a right pin or using a key fob, for example): the metal plate will be released and the door open. That is to say, to make sure your entrance is closed, one needs to ensure uninterrupted power supply. Typical magnetic locks go along the electronic ACS. Thus, certain authentication is expected. Various keypads or card/key fob readers serve as such.
Electromechanical locks, namely, including electric strikes, basically upgrade the ordinary locks. It allows the door to be open via some electronic methods, which means no physical key is needed. How does it work? When the strike is triggered electronically, it releases the deadbolt and allows the door to be open without the need to actually turn the key. Depending on the type of the electric strike (fail-safe or fail-secure), one needs to make sure the door will be prevented from either accidental electronic unlock or lock. Electric strikes are often a part of electronic ACS. Being included in the system, they serve additional security and help keep track of working hours for offices with high turnover as they need some kind of authentication (card/key fob reader, buzzer or keypad). That is to say, your entrances will be safe for public access as only authorized users will be able to enter.
Electric Mortise Locks
Electric mortise locks are visually the same as regular ones but are connected to the power supply through a wire. In this case, the two parts of the lock are powered: the latch bolt and the deadbolt. The outer side of the door (latch bolt and keyhole) is controlled by a handle, whereas the inner side (deadbolt) - by a deadbolt knob. If the lock is designed as a fail-safe, it locks when the power is applied. In reverse, a fail-secure one will unlock under the same circumstances. As a result of electric mortise locks being bifunctional, they are commonly installed in the residential areas.
In case of an emergency, electric locks we are used to may be of little help. For such cases, panic bars (push bars) were introduced. They are placed on the inside part of the door. These are simple locking mechanisms people can literally crash into while leaving a building in an emergency situation. To unlock the door, one needs to push the bar downwards.
Originally, panic bars are not electrified. However, they can be combined with electric strikes, thus, making it possible to open the door from outside. Such bifunctionality may be required when the same entrance is used as an emergency one and a regular.
Regardless of the lock type, you will need pretty much the same tools to install either electric lock:
The lock itself with all the components envisaged in the instruction;
Screwdriver and drill (if there are no prepared holes);
Marking tools to define the lock position on the door.
One of the crucial things to remember when installing an electric lock is wiring. To ensure the proper functioning, it is necessary not to damage any wires while fitting lock components in position. It is always best to have a professional locksmith to mount the lock for you to avoid any disappointing outcomes.
Another important issue is to ensure correct alignment of the lock parts. If not aligned properly, there is a risk of operational failures as well as damage to the lock.
General step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Measure and mark the place you want your lock to be installed.
Step 2: Drill the holes/cut out the openings (if necessary) and mount the components of the lock.
Step 3: Connect all the wires as described in the instruction.
Step 4: Secure the components of the lock with screws.
Step 5: Check the lock components for correct alignment and operation.
The distinguishing feature of maglocks is they consist of two parts:
A thin metal plate;
An electromagnet itself (connected to the power supply).
The plate should be installed on the door, while the magnet - on the door frame.
With this type of lock, basically, you are replacing the regular strike plate with a wired one. The only major issue you’d encounter would be the choice of where to place wire (either through the door and wall to the power socket or externally on the wall).
Electric Mortise Locks
In the case of electric mortise locks mounting, you replace the existing locking mechanism with the wired one. While installing this type of lock, be sure not to pinch any wires when securing it in place.
The installation of the crash bars is arguably the most difficult considering the level of pressure that lies on a person. As this type of hardware is used in the emergency situations, it’s crucial to mounting it right. The lives of people are at stake, after all. Thus, you’d want to hire a professional locksmith to avoid any unwanted troubles.
How do I benefit from having an electric lock?
So, we’ve covered quite a lot of information on electric lock types. But how exactly are they going to benefit your regular way of unlocking and locking the doors?
First of all and obvious enough, it is convenient. You won’t need the key unless you decide to leave the mechanical part for prevention purposes. There are no issues with electric lock maintenance and/or mounting process. They are relatively easy to install and manage. Some of the locks are even battery-powered so no wiring needed plus added security (as they don’t depend on the power supply).
Another benefit of having an electric lock is enhanced access control. It is especially relevant when talking about premises with high people turnover. With an electrified locking mechanism, all activity logs are stored digitally, which makes working hours control and access scheduling a piece of cake.
Automated access management allows you to save on rekeying as people don’t use physical keys. For each individual lock, you can customize authority levels, access schedules and restrictions.
The last but not the least - added security. If your entrance has an electric lock installed, the premise is automatically less appealing for burglars. Additionally, depending on a model, you’ll get built-in security functions (i.e., adjustable codes, multiple authority levels, access scheduling/revoking, etc.).
All in all, the smart technology has evolved in the sphere of home security. More and more private and public premises are getting electric locks to enhance safety. Depending on the features needed for any particular case, there are a lot of available options to choose from.