Mag Lock vs Electric Strike: What’s the Difference?

Choosing the right locking system is crucial for enhancing security in any setting.

Whether for a commercial building or a private residence, understanding the differences between mag lock and electric strike can help you make an informed decision that ensures safety and convenience.

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Electric Strike & Magnetic Lock Compared

Electric strikes and magnetic locks are popular in modern access control systems with distinct mechanisms and applications.

An electric strike lock works by an electric trigger that releases the lock bolt, making it suitable for doors with panic bar and traditional locksets. They are versatile, fitting into the existing door frame and strike plate, and can be configured to remain locked or unlocked during a power outage. They are typically fail-secure.

Magnetic or mag locks utilize an electromagnetic charge to maintain a locking mechanism. They require constant power to remain securely locked and are generally fail-safe, meaning they unlock during a power outage. It makes mag locks ideal for high-security areas where entry and egress must be strictly controlled.

Unlike electric strikes, magnetic locks do not interact with the door handle or lock but instead hold the door closed with a magnetic force against a metal plate.

Magnetic Lock

What are Magnetic Locks?

Magnetic or electromagnetic lock uses an electromagnetic field generated by an electric current that flows through a metal coil to create a strong magnetic force. This force holds a metal armature plate attached to the door, securing it in place (locked position) when energized.


  • Strong Holding Force: Mag locks can provide a strong holding force that is difficult to break with physical force.
  • Quick and Easy Operation: They lock and unlock instantly when the power is activated or deactivated, providing efficient access control.
  • Minimal Moving Parts: The lack of mechanical parts reduces wear and tear, enhancing longevity and reliability.


  • Dependence on Power: They require continuous power supply to remain locked, making them vulnerable to power outages unless backed up by batteries.
  • Fire Safety Compliance: Mag locks may pose challenges in meeting egress requirements during emergencies unless integrated with a proper exit system.

What are Electric Strikes?

Electric locks are locking devices with an electrically actuated mechanism that replaces a standard strike plate. When activated, typically by a signal from an electronic card reader or key fob, the strike’s hinged piece moves to allow the door’s latch or bolt to pass through, unlocking the door.


  • Versatility: Compatible with existing mechanical locks, electric strikes can be used on various doors, including those equipped with panic bars.
  • Fail Secure Options: Many models can be configured to stay locked during a power outage, enhancing security.
  • Lower Power Consumption: Electric strikes require power only when activated, unlike mag locks that need constant power.


  • Physical Security: While they are robust, the physical components are not as strong as those of a mag lock, which might pose a security risk if not properly installed.
  • Complex Installation: Installation can be more complex and costly than traditional locks because it often involves door hardware and frame modifications.

Here’s A Quick Look

FeatureMagnetic Lock (Mag Lock)Electric Strike
Locking MechanismUses an electromagnetic force to lock the doorUses a mechanical latch to lock the door
InstallationGenerally installed at the top of the door frameInstalled in the doorframe adjacent to the lock
Power RequirementRequires constant power to remain lockedRequires power to unlock, but can remain locked without power
Door Type CompatibilityWorks well with both inswing and outswing doors, and glass doorsBetter suited for wooden or metal doors, primarily used with inswing doors
StrengthHigh holding force, can secure doors against strong physical pressureHolding strength varies, generally lower than mag locks but sufficient for many applications
Fail-Safe/Fail-SecureFail-safe (unlocks when power is lost)Available in both fail-safe (unlocks when power is lost) and fail-secure (remains locked when power is lost) options
CostCan be more expensive due to high holding force and constructionGenerally less expensive than mag locks, but cost can vary based on model and features
Ease of EgressTypically allows for easier egress during emergencies as power loss unlocks the doorFail-secure models may not allow easy egress during power loss without a manual override
AestheticsLess visible as it is installed at the top of the door, providing a cleaner lookMore visible since it is installed within the doorframe, which may affect aesthetics

Factors To Consider


The primary function of the lock—whether for high-security areas, regular-use doors, or emergency exits—will influence the choice between a magnetic lock, which provides strong hold force, and an electric strike, which offers more flexibility with existing hardware.

Door Location

The location of the door within your facility plays a crucial role. Exterior doors benefit from the robust security of magnetic locks, while interior doors may find the adaptability of electric strikes more suitable.

Safety Concerns

Consideration of safety regulations, especially for egress in emergencies, is vital. Electric strikes often integrate better with panic bars and exit devices to comply with safety codes, whereas magnetic locks may require additional components to ensure safe exit during emergencies.

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Budget constraints can affect your choice. Electric strikes are generally less expensive to install on existing doors since they often require fewer alterations to the door frame and hardware than magnetic locks. Mag locks may necessitate a higher initial investment for components and installation.


Ease of use and maintenance should also be considered. Electric strikes typically allow for easier day-to-day operation. They can be less intrusive to install, especially in older buildings where preserving the integrity of the door and frame is crucial.

Magnetic locks offer more control and fewer mechanical parts, which might reduce long-term maintenance needs.

Installation Process

Electric Strikes Door Lock

Magnetic Locks

Installing magnetic locks involves attaching the electromagnet to the door frame and the armature plate to the door itself. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Mount the Electromagnet: Secure the electromagnet part of the mag lock to the top of the door frame.
  2. Attach the Armature Plate: This metal plate should be aligned precisely on the door where the magnet will connect when the door is closed.
  3. Wire the Power Supply: Magnetic locks require a direct electrical connection to function, which involves wiring the lock to a power supply that can deliver constant electric current. Ensure that all connections are secure to maintain the lock’s integrity.
  4. Test the Lock: After installation, it’s crucial to test the lock several times to ensure it engages and releases correctly as the door opens and closes.

Electric Strikes

Electric strike installation can vary depending on whether the strike is fail-secure or fail-safe and involves modifying the existing door frame:

  1. Remove the Existing Strike Plate: Replace the traditional strike plate on the door frame with the electric strike.
  2. Connect to the Access Control System: Wire the electric strike to the building’s access control system, which will control its locking mechanism.
  3. Adjust Settings for Entry: Program the device for the desired entry mode, such as locking or unlocking during power failures.
  4. Test for Functionality: As with magnetic locks, testing the electric strike multiple times is vital to ensure reliable operation, especially in emergencies where egress may be necessary.

Technology & Innovations

Magnetic Locks

Recent innovations in magnetic door lock technology include integrating smart control systems that allow the locks to be managed remotely via mobile apps.

Enhancements in magnetic charge technologies have also improved their holding strength and reduced power consumption, making them more efficient. Newer models can now detect the door’s status (open or closed) and adjust the magnetic force accordingly.

Electric Strikes

Electric strikes have benefited from advancements in electrical hardware devices, making them more versatile and easier to integrate with modern access control systems.

Innovations include adjustable strike plates that accommodate different latch bolt positions and enhance compatibility with various door locks. Additionally, incorporating smart technology allows for real-time alerts and remote operation, providing greater control and customization of security measures.


Are electric strike locks secure?

Yes, electric strike locks are secure and commonly used in residential and commercial settings. They integrate seamlessly with existing door hardware and access control systems, providing robust security. Electric strikes can be configured as fail-secure, remaining locked even during a power outage, thus ensuring safety.

What is the alternative to a mag lock?

An alternative to a mag lock is an electric strike, which allows the door to be secured while providing easier egress in compliance with fire safety regulations. Mechanical and newer technologies, like wireless electronic locks, that provide similar security without needing a constant power supply are also viable alternatives.

Do magnetic locks use a lot of electricity?

Magnetic locks require a constant electric current to remain locked, but they are designed to use a low voltage, making them relatively energy-efficient. Modern mag locks are also being designed with energy-saving features to reduce electricity usage further.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the nuances between mag locks and electric strikes is essential for choosing the right security setup. Each system offers unique benefits, and selecting the right one can significantly enhance the security and functionality of your building.

If you’re looking for tailored advice or need more information on installing these systems, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. Our experts are ready to help you secure your property with the best solutions available.

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