What Is The Difference Between Electric Strike and Magnetic Lock Alarms?

When installing a door release system with an alarm, the decision will have to be made as to whether or not to choose an electric strike or a magnetic lock on the doors. Individual priorities and needs will determine this choice, but what is the difference between electric strike and magnetic lock alarms?

What is an electric strike?

Electric strikes operate mechanically and serve as a replacement for a traditional door strike where the door is latched into place with the use of a hinged piece of metal that prevents the door from operating when it is in the locked position. An electric signal has to be received by the lock in order for the metal piece to move, which in turn enables the door to move. 

Electric strikes are installed within the door frame, with a small motor in the electric strike being controlled by electricity that when triggered will release the metal piece that holds the door in its place. The door will be able to move only when the electric trigger has been received. 

A number of triggers can be installed within an electric strike motor including an electronic card reader, a key fob, a keypad and a wireless sensor. 

Electric strikes secure the door from one side, usually the outside, meaning people can get out but not in unless they are in possession of a device that has been specifically programmed to send the electric signal the door strike needs to be released. An electric strike needs another device such as a panic bar or lockset to ensure that people can still get out of the building even in the event of power loss. 

Electric strikes are very affordable and provide extra security during power outages, although their complexity means an experienced professional will be required to install them and the right type to go with your door’s lock bolt will be required. 

What is a magnetic lock?

Magnetic locks need constant power in order to remain locked, with electricity used to power the magnets that are responsible for locking the door. There are two components in magnetic locks:

  1. An electromagnet that is usually fixed to the doorframe
  2. A metal armature plate that is normally fixed to the door itself

The door remains locked when these two components are touching and an electric current is flowing through the electromagnet. The magnetic charge is created by the current, which gets the armature plate to be attracted to the electromagnet, preventing the door from being able to operate. The removal of power sees the magnet lose its charge, allowing the door to become operational. Doors with magnetic locks can be opened with devices such as a keypad or key fob just like those with electric strikes. 

The major difference between electric strike and magnetic lock alarms is the power that they require. Magnetic locks are failsafe, while electric strikes are usually fail-secure, meaning that power is needed to lock magnetic door locks, while power is needed to unlock electric strikes.