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Are you and the things you are trying to protect, safer with


The safety that electronic locks offer extends from the safety of the general public to the safety of private property. Everything from residential to the highest of government security have been addressed with electronic locks. And now most cars have some sort of electronic key system.


But not all of the technologies are the same, and with electronic locks, the keys you use to open them are just as important as the locks themselves. New methods of electronic based security are always improving, and new products are always being developed.

How Electronic Locks work?


Electronic locks are locked or unlocked with the assistance of an electrical current. The electrical current is either used to power an electromagnet, a solenoid (electromagnet with a single coil), or a motor. These devices will actuate the lock in a manner that is either fail-safe or fail-secure.




A fail-safe lock will open on the side of ingress in the event of a power outage, or in the event of an emergency alarm being pulled. This is possible because the electrical current is used to keep the door locked, and removing power disengages the locking mechanism.


  • Protects workers in times of emergency.

  • Allows large buildings that have many visitors (gyms, museums, schools, etc.) to exit safely and for emergency responders to enter.


  • With the loss of power, the building will not be secure.

  • Pulling the emergency alarm will unlock emergency exits with this function.

  • Susceptible to crime during an actual emergency as well as a staged one.

Fail Safe
Fail Secure

A fail-secure lock is the exact opposite of the fail-safe function. It uses the electrical current to retract the bolt. And in the event of an electrical outage, the bolt will remain in the locked position.


  • Protects valuables in times of emergency.

  • An EMP (electromagnetic pulse) or power failure will not disengage the locks.


  • Not ideal for large buildings that have many visitors (gyms, museums, schools, etc.) because it impedes the entry of emergency responders.

  • Evacuation can be impeded if used on door locks.

Not all devices can be found in both fail-secure and fail-safe. Most of the time how the device functions will determine whether the loss of electricity will lock or open the door, gate, hatch, etc. For other electronic locks, the building codes may restrict the use of either fail-safe or fail-secure. The main types of electronic locks are:

Electromagnetic Locks

Magnetic locks use a magnet that is created when a current is moved through a wire with multiple coils around an iron core, or a solenoid (single coiled wire wrapped around a metal core). When the current is disrupted the metal wire is no longer magnetized.

This lock set up is constructed by fixing a plate of magnetic metal (usually iron) to the door, and the electromagnet to the door frame.

Because of the very nature of an electromagnet, it can not be fail-secure, which means that in the result of an emergency or power outage, the doors will unlock. When there is no emergency to disable the locks, the magnets can be manipulated with a key that temporarily interrupts the electrical current. After a few seconds, the current will return, and once the door has closed it will magnetically bind the door to the door frame.


The strength of the magnetic force holding the door closed will depend on how the coil is wound and constructed on the electromagnet; the strength of the current (how much electricity is being used); and the material that the coil is wrapped around.

Electric Strikes

Electric strikes have a spring loaded keeper that manipulates the bolt on the lock. Without the proper tool for entry, the keeper will stay fastened in place. Only with the correct verification with the keeper loosen and allow the bolt to retract.


The device is installed either on the door frame or in the case of double doors, on the stationary door (inactive leaf). Most often this type of strike is made for safely exiting the building, and in most cases will open from the inside even in the case of being fail-secure. This is done with a manual override such as a knob or key. A key can also be fashioned to override the lock from the outside.


Electric strikes can be differentiated in a number of ways, frame type it can be installed in, duty (continuous or intermittent), and which variety of locking mechanism on the door it can work with.

The four most common locking mechanisms concerned with electric strikes are Cylindrical, Deadbolt, Mortise, and Rim Panic Exit Devices.

  • Cylindrical Locks tend towards residential use and, as such, electric strikes for cylindrical locks tends towards more economy.


  • Deadbolts, also known as Night Latches, do not have a spring mechanism which means the strike for a deadlatch is 'hold' only (the dead bolt is thrown and it engages in the electric strike cavity, the electric strike can release it but cannot subsequently 'recapture it' since the deadbolt lacks the spring latching capability of the other lock sets).


  • Mortise Type Locksets tend towards larger projecting latches from the door to engage deeper in the frame and electric strikes used for these locking mechanisms require more cutting and space in the frame.


  • Rim Panic Devices are required in many buildings as a 'single motion' means of egress and electric strikes used in these situations tend towards entirely different designs and opening actions as compared to electric strikes for other situations. Electric strikes for rim panic exit devices are sometimes, though not always, 'no cut' electric strikes - no cutting, in reference to a rim panic strike, means the strike is bolted to the surface of jamb without cutting into the frame or modifying it in any way (except for the drilling and tapping of mounting screw and/or anchoring pins).

Electromechanical Locks

They get their name from their contents and inner workings. A cross section of such a lock will display a latch and gear system that can be manipulated with the use of the lock cylinder and/or an electrical current. In the fail-safe version of this lock, the electric current will cause the bolt in the lock to stay extended. In the result of a power outage the door will be completely unlocked, and in the case of a fire alarm the door can be set up to lose power. The fail-secure version will use the electrical current to retract the bolt and therefore it will remain locked until power is reestablished to the system.

Electronic Modes of Entry

An electronic lock needs to use an electronic signal to open and close, otherwise, it would always be locked or open. It may be connected to an access control system, the advantages of which include: key control, where keys can be added and removed without re-keying the lock cylinder; fine access control, where time and place are factors; and transaction logging, where activity is recorded.

  • An Access Code is a series of interactions in a specific order, with a keypad of some kind. The variations of these codes are endless, which makes them extremely secure against guess based attacks.

  • Keycards are the most popular option in commercial access control. They are easy to use, and when cards are lost, it is a simple matter to deactivate them and issue new ones. They can also be combined with photo IDs for additional security. Proximity cards, which can work from one inch to three feet from a sensor, are the most common. They are also inexpensive. Security access systems can use magnetic stripe or barcode cards, as well, and these can be a money‐saving option if you already use one of these technologies for employee ID cards.

  • Fingerprint sensors helps to securely restrict access to sensitive operations, perimeters and assets Your unique fingerprint is much more secure than a key which can be either stolen or lost, and because the system requires a 'swipe' of the finger no finger print is left on scanner.

Electronic Lock Components and Devices
Push Buttons
Electric Transformers
Bells & Buzzers
Motion Sensors
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