Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
Email:, Blog: or

Apr 05 2012

WHY? Unequal Pair with Mag-Lock

Category: Electrified Hardware,WHY?Lori @ 12:11 am Comments (17)

Do you ever look at a door opening or a particular hardware installation and ask yourself, “Why’d they do that??”  I know you have!  I’ve decided to create a new category of posts, where we can puzzle these out together.

This pair is in the hotel which is my home-away-from-home this week.  I noticed the mag-lock on the unequal leaf right away.  As you can see, there is no motion sensor or push button to release the mag-lock.  What you can not see is that the panic hardware on the active leaf doesn’t release the mag-lock either.  The panic is an electric latch retraction device, and there are no flush bolts on the inactive leaf.  I’ve included a photo of the door loop / door cord because architects always ask me what they look like.

So…why’d they do that?  Why a mag-lock?

UPDATE:  For those of you who asked for more information (you’re asking all the right questions, by the way), here are some answers.  Sorry I didn’t take the exterior picture last night, but it was dark.

These doors are one of several pairs serving the guest room wing of the 2-story hotel.  They do not serve the Assembly spaces (restaurant/bar/function rooms).  On the exterior there is a pull handle on the active leaf, and nothing on the inactive.  There is a card reader which reads the guest room cards and retracts the latch of the panic device.  The mag-lock does not release when you insert your card.

I believe the fasteners at the top of the active leaf are for the concealed vertical rod panic hardware.  It is not a fire-rated door – it goes to the exterior.  The building is sprinklered.  There at least 3 of these pairs serving a wing of about 60 rooms counting both floors.  There is also a means of egress through the hotel lobby.

Here’s my take on it.  The mag-lock is acting as the world’s most expensive flush bolt.  There is nothing to release the mag-lock, except maybe the fire alarm.  Using the mag-lock to provide full egress width upon fire alarm isn’t code-compliant, because if the full width of the opening is required for egress upon fire alarm, it is also required when there isn’t a fire alarm.  The active leaf can accommodate 160 occupants, and the inactive leaf is not required for egress.  I can’t think of any good reason to use a mag-lock in this application.  

More photos:


17 Responses to “WHY? Unequal Pair with Mag-Lock”

  1. Khozema Kazi, AHC/FDAI says:

    They have used mag lock on one leaf to make it inactive instead of using CVR x ELR which would have been expensive. They may have got it approved by AHJ, siting the following :
    – clear opening is 64″ (I assume it is)
    – in case of emergency/power failure, the opening will function same as it would if it had 2nos CVRxELR.

  2. David Kelly says:

    They could have at least put in a dark bronze door loop and mag lock.

  3. Jerry says:

    I would like to know the occupant load needing serviced thru this opening. My guess is that when the hotel was built the extra inches of clear width from the inactive leaf was ‘counted’ on during design. I agree with K’s post on function, but my guess is it does not meet Life Safety in their egress plan. If they did not need the width in the first place, they (Arch) probably would have designed using a single (saves money).

  4. cda says:

    also human nature is goning to aim for the door with the panic hardware, so the other leaf is almost useless

  5. Dino Dusi says:

    What is on the pull side (outside) of this opening? Is there Pull/Lever trim on both doors? A card reader? If so, which item does it control, the EL exit device or the mag lock?
    The Exit device has no visible dogging feature, so this mey be a labelled opening, although there seems to be a lot of glass area. We need more information to figure this one out…come on Lori..more details..

  6. Jack Ostergaard says:

    What does the exterior side look like? I’m assuming there is no pull on the inactive side. Some sort of access control device which activates the EL device?
    What operates the mag lock? Key Switch? Remotely operated? Does it have an emergency release? I’m going with the replacement for flush bolt concept. Mag lock provides greater control. Legal assuming all criteria of 2009 IBC 1008.4 Excpt 4.
    And door loops sure are ugly -but allow for larger wires that thru wire hinges. Better for the initial power surge.

  7. Bob Caron says:

    My guess would be that the two doors would be free in an alarm situation. Even if there is no exit device on the inactive leaf, the door will fly open once you have people piling up to get through the active leaf.

  8. Dave Saltmarsh says:

    Looks like vintage early 90’s chea-Econolodge decor. I do not see a fire supression system on the wall,(sprinkler of pull station) it appears as though the doors go into another hallway, it is an egress pair (exit sign), so I assume they are smoke doors. No PIR motion detector, emergency release button within 5′ of the opening or appropriate signage; all required by code. Mag on the INA,VD wire door loop, narrow stile device???? The only way the door would latch is if it was an electrified CVR. Fire alarm relays: hopefully it’s connected to the FA system but I dought it; the mag would be on a normally closed relay, device would be normally open; when the FA system cuts the juice, the device will latch and the mag will de-energize. Bizaar; must have been on a budget plan.

  9. Dennis Hall says:

    Access control guys love mag locks, so I’m assuming they have a card reader on the other side to release the inactive & active door.

  10. cda says:

    I wonder what is bolted on the other side, top right, of the door with panic hardware???

  11. RNB says:

    If flushbolts had been used, guests would open the inactive leaf making the opening unsecure. A maglock that only releases via front desk keeps guests from endangering their own safety.

  12. AG says:

    Anybody ever think that different key cards do different things ?

    Not saying that it’s not hooked up to the fire alarm, but maybe staff key cards open both halves whereas guest key cards only open one side ?

    Just a thought…

  13. Jon Payne says:

    While I don’t have specific knowledge of this particular job I can offer a possible reason.

    Ordinary flush bolts could be tampered with by a person wishing later access without a key. If the flush bolts were released, both leaves could be pulled open at the same time without using the card to unlock.

    AG – the lock system is Onity, my employer for 15 years before I retired in 2008. In the Onity system it is possible to use the “8 relay board” to detect the individual “card authorization bit” to unlock each device individually, or together. Given my experience with how jobs were engineered, I doubt it was used in this case.

  14. tim kenner says:

    I’ve been a welder for 25 years.
    I use maglock for a number of different entries. this one is more than likely attached to the fire system. when you pull the lever for the fire alarm those doors will open. You can find these levers on the internet

  15. Scott K. says:

    I agree with Jon. It looks like a way of controlling unauthorized use of fixed leaf. This is likely only for moving equipment, furniture etc. Keyed flush bolts would be a simpler way to do it.

  16. Michael Glasser says:

    Just a guess but considering the exposed door loop on the panic, I dont think panic hardware was the original intent of the pair. My guess is both doors were to receive mag locks, but the AHJ caught it prior to install and required them to field modify the unprep’ed door for a panic bar. The other door received the mag lock as originally planned.

    Just my guess.

Leave a Reply

This website or its third party tools use cookies, which are necessary to its functioning and required to achieve the purposes illustrated in the cookie policy. If you want to know more or withdraw your consent to all or some of the cookies, please refer to the cookie policy. By closing this banner, scrolling this page, clicking a link or continuing to browse otherwise, you agree to the use of cookies.

This website or its third party tools use cookies, which are necessary to its functioning and required to achieve the purposes illustrated in the cookie policy. If you want to know more or withdraw your consent to all or some of the cookies, please refer to the cookie policy. By closing this banner, scrolling this page, clicking a link or continuing to browse otherwise, you agree to the use of cookies.