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How Magnetic Locks Work

Fire & Security, Information

When it comes to access control systems, magnetic locks have become a reliable and innovative solution for provided a secure locking system with multiple customisation options.

Also known as electromagnetic locks or maglocks, they have gained popularity for their robustness, efficiency, and ease of use with businesses up and down the country benefiting from their use. From securing sensitive areas in commercial buildings to ensuring the safety of homes, magnetic locks have proven to be an invaluable tool. But how do these locks actually work?

The Basics of Magnetic Locks

Magnetic locks consist of two main components. An electromagnet and an armature plate. The electromagnet is typically mounted on the door frame, while the armature plate is attached to the door itself. When the lock is engaged, the electromagnet generates a strong magnetic attraction that holds the armature plate against it, effectively keeping the door securely closed. The power required to maintain this magnetic hold is relatively minimal, making magnetic locks both energy-efficient and reliable.

The Attraction Process

The core principle behind the operation of magnetic locks is electromagnetism. When an electric current flows through a coil of wire, it generates a magnetic field around the coil. In the context of a magnetic lock, the coil of wire is wound around a ferrous core, usually made of materials like iron or steel. As the electric current flows through the coil, it creates a magnetic field that turns the core into a temporary magnet. This magnetic force is strong enough to attract and hold the armature plate against the electromagnet.

Fail-Safe and Fail-Secure Modes

Magnetic locks can operate in two primary modes. Fail-safe and fail-secure. In the fail-safe mode, the magnetic lock remains locked when power is applied. However, when power is cut, the magnetic attraction dissipates, allowing the door to be easily opened. Fail-safe magnetic locks are often used in emergency exit doors or areas where quick evacuation might be necessary.

However, in the fail-secure mode, the magnetic lock remains locked even during a power outage. This mode ensures that the locked door cannot be opened without the application of power, adding an extra layer of security. Fail-secure magnetic locks are often found in sensitive areas such as server rooms or research facilities where intruders attempts to ‘cut the power’ to the building will have no effect on the locking mechanism.

How magnetic lock can integrate with Access Control Systems

Modern magnetic locks used in a business environment are often integrated into access control systems, allowing for sophisticated management of entry points. Access can be granted or denied remotely through various means, such as key cards, PIN codes, biometric scanners, or even smartphone apps. This integration not only enhances security but also provides an audit trail of who accessed a particular area and when. During the Covid-19, this system was invaluable for businesses as they entered a controlled phase of allowing employees back to work.

Advantages of Magnetic Locks

Magnetic locks offer several advantages that have contributed to their widespread adoption:

Strength and Durability

Magnetic locks can provide a high level of security due to their powerful magnetic attraction, making them resistant to forced entry.

Energy Efficiency

These locks require minimal power to maintain their magnetic hold, making them energy-efficient and cost-effective.

Quick Response Time

Magnetic locks can engage and disengage rapidly, ensuring swift access for authorised individuals.

Low Maintenance

With fewer moving parts, magnetic locks are less prone to wear and tear, resulting in lower maintenance requirements. As they do not require keys, there is no cost for a set of replacement keys should a set be lost.


Magnetic locks can be customised to fit various door sizes and security needs, making them versatile for different applications.

The functionality of magnetic locks rests upon the principles of electromagnetism, offering a secure and efficient solution for access control. As technology continues to advance, magnetic locks are likely to remain a key player in the evolving landscape of security systems. Whether used in commercial, industrial, or residential settings, their ability to combine strength, efficiency, and flexibility makes them an indispensable asset in safeguarding valuable assets and ensuring controlled access.

At HF, our Fire & Security services are backed up with NSI Gold and NSI Fire Gold accreditation so that we can operate to the highest possible industry standard and guidelines across the UK.

Our team can advise you on all types of security system that you should have for y our home or business, giving you the very best in security to suit your needs.  We can review your domestic or commercial property and provide recommendations on what products, system design and installation requirements you should have.

From CCTV to Intruder Alarms, Fire Alarms to Access Solutions, we can provide the complete installation, maintenance and emergency call-out service.  24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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