Securing access

Jonathan Burke, marketing manager of Abloy UK, discusses the options for architects looking to specify systems that offer easy access and egress while ensuring maximum security, and explains how electric locks can offer a compliant and energy efficient solution.

When it comes to specifying access points in public buildings – especially emergency escape doors – it is imperative that the safety of the people who use the building is the main concern. However, there must also be measures in place to ensure the required level of security is achieved.

Access control and security are two major concerns when it comes to buildings that are used by the public, such as offices, schools and hospitals. It’s important to have fluid access, however the safety of the people in the building is also paramount.

In the event of an emergency such as a fire, there needs to be a reliable exit route that allows a quick and easy escape, so ensuring the correct locking solutions are installed at access points is key.

There are safety advantages to be gained by opting for an electric locking system – such as a motorised or solenoid lock – rather than choosing door magnets.

This is because there can be fire risks associated with installing a magnet on a door which is used as a fire escape, as they require special arrangements in order to guarantee they are fail-safe at all times in the event of an emergency. For example, some door magnets require an alarm or ‘request to exit’ mechanism to allow someone to exit, so there could be delays for people needing swift egress in an emergency situation.

Standards and compliance

When it comes to choosing a complaint solution, electric locks also meet standards EN179 Emergency Escape for when the building occupants are aware of the building environment, and EN1125 Panic Escape for environments used by the general public.

In addition, motorised and solenoid solutions satisfy the needs of both fire doors and emergency and panic situations where a mechanical means of escape is required.

Motorised locks are also ideal for emergency exits as they do not feature a handle – which is the most vulnerable part of a door – making them a hands-free solution.

This can improve the flow of people, which is especially useful when a swift and smooth exit is needed for a large number of people, meaning motorised locks are often considered a safer alternative to solenoid variants.

Ensuring efficiency

As well as providing a superior level of security, electric locks are also a more energy efficient solution when compared with magnetic locks. Although door magnets may have a smaller initial cost, they need a constant supply of electricity to power the magnetic field that ensures the door stays closed.

Alternatively, solenoid and motorised locks only require electricity to open or close the door. As doors will be closed for a far greater amount of time than they will be open, electric locks will use considerably less energy than their magnetic counterparts.

To put this into context, 13 door magnets use around the same amount of electricity as a kettle being constantly boiled all day. In comparison, electric locks will only require around 10-20 per cent of this amount of energy to operate for the same amount of time.

Secure solutions

With this in mind, companies offer a selection of compliant security solutions that are ideal for panic and escape doors. Ranges of electric locks include motor and solenoid locks, which are the most effective forms of electric locking.

So architects looking for safe and efficient access control systems should opt for electric locks rather than door magnets, in order to provide a compliant solution that will ensure the occupants of a building are able to exit swiftly in the event of an emergency.