Maglocks - Who Uses And Hates Them

By Brian Rhodes, Published Jul 10, 2014, 12:00am EDT

Many integrators hate maglocks. However, they are a common sight on many controlled openings. But how widely are they used?

In our exclusive integrator access control survey series, we share usage statistics and, more importantly, explain the 2 key reasons and the 4 main objections to using them.

Average Use - 25-30%

The average integrator survey used maglocks for 25 to 30% of doors. However the range of use was dramatic.

The Breakdown

The most common usage range was ~10% but a fair number of integrators used maglocks on a majority of their doors:

Easy Install

Integrators made it clear that one of the strongest benefits of using maglocks is they are not difficult to mount, even when installers have novice experience:

  • "Maglocks offer the easiest set up and installation."
  • "100%, they are easy to install on existing doors."
  • "A lot of it is driven by how quickly they can be installed."
  • "It seems it is easier to install."
  • "80% - Because maglocks are easy to install, reliable, and fail-safe. We mainly do industrial areas, where the appearance doesn't matter so much."

Tough / Glass Doors

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Many responses also reflected that locking options to control certain types of doors are limited to maglocks:

  • "We only use them on Fire Doors and aesthetic pleasing glass doors, typically a front door of an office building tenant on any given floor."
  • "40% due to the doors being full glass entry doors."
  • "Most of the doors here are made of aluminium so that's the best option for us."
  • "Only done when necessary...emergency exits, glass doors, etc."
  • "We try to discourage the use of mag locks, but sometimes we have no other cost effective option for the customer."
  • "25% of all doors, driven by requirements due to the fact that these doors consisted of all glass."

However, most responses criticized maglocks.

Code Problems

Many negative responses affirmed difficulty in using maglocks safely, if permitted by local areas at all. Because free egress must always be maintained when using maglocks, and because they essentially are useless if power fails, mounting them typically requires the installation other hardware, safety devices, or battery backups for use:

  • "The additional fire/life safety concerns/codes and the issue that the mag requires power to stay locked."
  • "Maglocks present code compliance issues with NFPA and "butcher" the door if there is ever a desire to remove access control at a later date"
  • "Too many issues with Fire code, expensive hardware.
  • "We dont sell any mag locks, against the law in San Francisco, California."
  • "About 2% - We primarily work in K-12 schools and maglocks are not allowed in schools in NY State."
  • "Less then 5% The code requires a maglock to unlock in case of life safety event and the loss of building power. That risk needs to be mitigated with a more expensive solution."

High Cost / Complexity

Using maglocks are not cheap, since they often come with required accessories that require additional labor to install. Using maglocks often requires additional software configuration and tie-ins not needed with other lock types:

  • "0%, we never install maglocks, issues with loss of power and unlocked doors when batteries deplete. Having to deal with fire alarm tie-ins is costly. Additional hardware (request to exit motion sensors and emergency release buttons) add additional time and trouble."
  • "Maglocks drive up the cost of the job with the life safety devices required. They also drive up the complexity since you have to wire in motions, touchbars, timed release buttons, fire alarm interfaces, etc.. Life safety is also another reason we only use them if necessary."
  • "Less than 5%. We need to have a motion sensor allowing egress without the need to push a button, thus becoming less popular."
  • "Never. Maglocks are too expensive, especially when you add all the require life safety elements that are required."

Fire Integration Required

Several responses specifically noted that integrating with fire alarms, and getting those vendors to work with access control providers is difficult:

  • "Fire alarm loops are just one more thing that break, putting people at risk."
  • "Dealing with fire alarm tie-ins is expensive for us, we don't do fire alarms."
  • "Since we do not sell fire, it requires interfacing with another vendor."
  • "Getting fire sign-offs take forever and add cost to each lock."

Better Options Available

Many integrators explained that more secure, better looking, and less expensive locks can be used, explaining that maglocks are just not the best choices for their customers:

  • "Maglocks are ugly, high maintenance, wasteful devices that offer a lower level of security. Only with odd situations or odd people do you end up with this scenario on purpose."
  • "Zero. We can always use electric strikes."
  • "0% We are a door hardware company as well and feel that mag locks are rarely the best option."
  • "10-15%. Mag locks offer less options and require more components."
  • "We only use maglocks if we can't use other solutions. The option is bulky and expensive for our customers."
  • "As a door hardware integrator, we really think the maglock is inferior, unsafe and there are better options out there."


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