Electric Strikes: Why They Are So Popular

By Brian Rhodes, Published Jul 31, 2014, 12:00am EDT

Electric strikes are a mainstay part of access control, but how often do integrators use them? In our recent integrator insights survey, we asked "In the past year, what percentage of new doors installed use electric strikes?" 

In this note, we examine their responses and identify four key themes they offered when answering that question.

Average Use: ~70%

One of the most popular methods of electronic access control, integrators estimated they use electric strikes on about ~ 70% of doors. Considering the same group reported an overall average of ~30% for maglocks, electric strikes are clearly the dominant electrified hardware used in access.

The Breakdown

Answered had the highest concentration of answers at 80% or 90% of doors:

Low Cost

The leading reason integrators gave why strikes are such a popular option is because they are inexpensive  compared to other locking options, usually costing <$200 and foregoing addition life / safety equipment like RTE buttons and motion detector overrides:

  • "85-90%. An electric strike is the cheapest option usually."
  • "Strikes can be reliable and cost effective, costing a lot less than mags and there a code issues with mags that require them to be tied into fire panels."
  • ">90% Price is less that other options."
  • "90% of our installations use strikes. Mostly in part of being a minimal security interior door where the cost, application, and ease of installation is the best fit."
  • "About 95% of doors. [Strengths are] Price (compared to Maglocks), acceptable holding power, ease/price of installation (most doors in Scandinavia housing complexes were traditionally fitted with electric strikes not Maglocks."
  • "Fairly inexpensive, doesn't require fire alarm tie-ins, always allows for free egress, and allows doors to fail secure."
  • "40%, ideal where customers will not pay for expensive electronic locksets."
  • "70%. Because they are the most common (and cheapest) solution, but not always the best solution."
  • "75% - our market does not typically like to pay for coring of existing doors."
  • "80 - Electric Strikes are a cost effective solution as opposed to mortise locks."
  • "Its a cheap route to install access, but has security risks."

Good Looking

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Another common sentiment is that strikes are lower profile and less likely to disrupt the appearance of an opening that other access locks:

  • "We typically lead with electric strikes on existing doors with hardware. They are usually more aesthetically pleasing."
  • "About 60%.  Most do not like Maglocks or the looks of them."
  • "Our clients care about style and looks and will not approve anything that ruins it.  Strikes are they best choice for most."
  • "They don't disrupt the appearance of the door like other locks or hardware."
  • "Strikes conceal in the frame, while maglocks just butcher the way the door looks."
  • "For new doors, installed at the time of mounting the ACS , it IS easier to install strikes, and they better looking."
  • "50% - Use electric strikes when appropriate for appearance of that door."

While style is subjective, integrators made it clear: The preference is for access hardware to be discrete and as unobtrusive as possible.

Code Friendly

Several responses noted the simplicity of using strikes compared to maglocks, and getting approvals from code inspectors and AHJs is easy with strikes:

  • "85-90%. Most importantly, strikes do not require 1-3 3rd party representative/companies (Authority Having Jurisdiction -AHJ, Fire Alarm Company, Engineering Firm) to sign off on the doors."
  • "90% ease of incorporating free egress is the number 1 reason."
  • "60% electric strikes; easier to deal with egress rules without REX button, etc."
  • "Using electrified strikes or door hardware makes our submittal process smoother."
  • "75% fire safety simplicity"
  • "90 % cost & fire codes"
  • "60%. Easier to meet code and lower installation costs."
  • "25%, when electrified lockset hardware is too high and in some jurisdictions the mag lock is outlawed."

Indeed, some municipalities outright prohibit use of maglocks, and integrator responders from those regions suggest strikes are the easiest answer to the gap those laws leave behind:

  • "For us, we cannot use maglocks, so we use strikes most of the time."
  • "Our AHJs are real sticklers, but they are more comfortable with strikes, while maglocks are illegal."

Already Specified

The last common theme integrators shared is that strikes are used because the building plans specify them, or because they are already installed and waiting on the access system:

  • "100 % they just seem to be what is required."
  • "70%. Lots of doors come with the door strike pre-installed."
  • "75% for us, because they have been picked by the building engineers."
  • "20%, because they are already specified in contracts."
  • "50%. When a NEW install, strikes are commonly specified with the A/E or GC ."
  • "90% They are what the majority of residential/small office clients ask for in the plans."

We suspect that for retrofit work, maglocks or other types of electrified hardware may be easier to install and require less trade skill, but for new construction where frames can be specified to fit strikes or where coarse modification is less disruptive, strikes install with little difficulty.

Strike Selection Guide

If you need to beef up your understanding of how strikes integrate to access systems, or how to specify them for proper use, catch our Selecting the Right Electric Strike and Foolproof Strike Installation Guides for a detailed look.

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