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About Electric Lock

An electronic lock (or electric lock) is a locking device which operates by means of electric current. Electric locks are sometimes stand-alone with an electronic control assembly mounted directly to the lock. Electric locks may be connected to an access control system, the advantages of which include: key control, where keys can be added and removed without re-keying the lock cylinder; fine access control, where time and place are factors; and transaction logging, where activity is recorded. Electronic locks can also be remotely monitored and controlled, both to lock and unlock.

The most basic type of electronic lock is a magnetic lock (informally called a "mag lock"). A large electro-magnet is mounted on the door frame and a corresponding armature is mounted on the door. When the magnet is powered and the door is closed, the armature is held fast to the magnet. Mag locks are simple to install and are very attack-resistant. One drawback is that improperly installed or maintained mag locks can fall on people, and also that one must unlock the mag lock to both enter and to leave. This has caused fire marshals to impose strict rules on the use of mag locks and access control practice in general. Additionally, NFPA 101 (Standard for Life Safety and Security), as well as the ADA (Americans with Disability Act) require "no prior knowledge" and "one simple movement" to allow "free egress". This means that in an emergency, a person must be able to move to a door and immediately exit with one motion (requiring no push buttons, having another person unlock the door, reading a sign, or "special knowledge").

Other problems include a lag time (delay), because the collapsing magnetic field holding the door shut does not release instantaneously. This lag time can cause a user to collide with the still-locked door. Finally, mag locks fail unlocked, in other words, if electrical power is removed they unlock. This could be a problem where security is a primary concern. Additionally, power outages could affect mag locks installed on fire listed doors, which are required to remain latched at all times except when personnel are passing through. Most mag lock designs would not meet current fire codes as the primary means of securing a fire listed door to a frame. Because of this, many commercial doors (this typically does not apply to private residences) are moving over to stand-alone locks, or electric locks installed under a Certified Personnel Program.

The first mechanical recodable card lock was invented in 1976 by Tor Sørnes, who had worked for VingCard since the 1950s. The first card lock order was shipped in 1979 to Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, Atlanta, US. This product triggered the evolution of electronic locks for the hospitality industry.