Electro-Magnetic Locks the Correct Specification
Posted on 05-12-2020
With the requirement for certificated products since the Grenfell Tower disaster, Securefast based in Cannock, Staffordshire, have seen an increase in sales for their electro-magnetic locks, with many clients, contractors and door manufacturers requesting the correct fire test and performance test evidence.
Securefast are well known for their Deedlock range of electro-magnetic locks which includes surface mounted face to face, morticed, transom housing and gate versions. Many of their customers are using the electro-magnetic locks on escape and security doors following the introduction of their higher holding force electro-magnetic locks. With building regulation documents and technical documents for different countries varying slightly there has been a confusion as to what is acceptable or not. With the introduction of the standard EN13637, this allows the use of electrical panic hardware systems to be used on escape doors with the inclusion of Electro-magnetic Locks, Electric Locks, Electrical Panic Hardware, and Electric Releases. The standard allows the use of time delays which can be useful when used in residential homes to stop vulnerable residents from walk out in the middle of the night or in nurseries to prevent a young person from opening the escape door and wandering into the streets. However, it is important that building control approve any product which can inhibit safe egress from a building, regardless of the jurisdiction.
The idea of the EN13637 standard was to: -
(1) Improve security,
(2) increase locking forces to the door using high holding force electro-magnetic locks / electric locks,
(3) the option to link with the burglar alarm and
(4) allow delay egress - allowing a member of staff to investigate before the door is opened.
The benefit of using face to face or mortice electro-magnetic locks on escape doors is that the products have no mechanical parts which can fail or be damaged from misuse. Once the power is cut by either the operator at the door or fire alarm, the door releases instantly.
One of the great benefits of using these electro-magnetic locks on escape doors is that the direction of release is in line with the direction of travel and will therefore not be affected by side load forces unlike electric or mechanical lock cases, which incorporate moving parts. In Scotland they have recognised this as a potential safety issue and therefore permit electro-magnetic locks on the escape doors. The Technical Document states that Fail-Unlocked Electric Lock cases should not be installed on any door which provides the only route of escape from the building or part of the building and if the building occupancy is more than 60 people. It is therefore important to check on the local or country regulations to ensure your specification complies. Many countries have yet to improve their building Regs documentation to include electrical hardware on escape doors, which includes Eire who work to the Technical Guidance Document B. However, installers are also referring to PAS 55 which is a PSA licensing requirement for locksmiths which again only makes reference to mechanical panic hardware, as their document was printed prior to EN13637 being introduced.
Years ago, people were concerned about the magnetic residual holding or delaying the armature plate from releasing off the magnet, however this is no longer the case as the armature plates have a built-in button which is sprung loaded and pushes off the armature plate when the power is cut. It is important to note that shear electro-magnetic locks are not recommended for use on escape doors as the armature plate can be prevented from withdrawing fully from the door when side load pressure is applied, thus not conforming to any panic or emergency exit standards.
With the introduction of TS010:2019 the Doors and Hardware Federation technical standard for electro-magnetic locks, Securefast was the first company to test to this standard which categorises the products into groups based on the holding force of the armature plate on the magnet and the type of electro-magnetic locks. Many suppliers of electro-magnetic locks quote holding forces which have not been tested to TS010:2019 and claim holding forces which are nowhere near what they state. The most important part of an electro-magnetic lock is its coil which should be 100% pure copper, the less copper or no copper at all means lower holding forces, so remember when you buy a low cost magnet it is probably because of the reduction in copper resulting in the reduction in holding force..
It is also interesting to note that when a Z&L bracket is fitted with any electro-magnetic lock for inward opening doors, the holding force is greatly reduced by up to 70% due to flexing of the bracket.
To improve the holding force and aesthetics Securefast offer a transom housing which can be fitted along the header frame of the door or down the side of the door frame. These transom housings spread the load and reduce the flexing of the product which in turn increases the holding force.
For greater holding force and higher security on the face to face fixed electro-magnetic locks, Securefast introduced their AEM12100 and AEM12200 Electro-magnetic Locks which have a minimum holding force when tested of 5900N (1326 lbs/f) (600 kg/f) equal to Grade 4 of TS010:2019 and will easily pass a PAS24 test which requires a minimum holding force of 4200N. A number of door manufacturers are now using the new AEM12000 and AEM12000R Mortice electro-magnetic locks on communal entrance doors, these have been tested to grade 3 of the TS010 standard and have been successfully included within burglary resistance tests.
Operations and Technical Director, Kevin O’Reilly explains “the reason Securefast have been successful in growing its market in electrical architectural hardware is their commitment to developing a product and using 3rd party test houses before we enter the market. This guarantees a consistency in quality standards and ensures we only offer the very best in products.
Before you specify and electro-magnetic lock request full test certification for both the Fire and the Holding Force.