Electric Strikes vs. Magnetic Locks: The Differences, Pros And Cons

Fatima Buzdar

November 14, 2022

A silver electromagnetic door lock with a visible coil cord at the top is mounted onto a metal door frame. There is a red indicator light on the lock. This setup, likely installed by a skilled locksmith, appears to be part of a security system.

Deciding the right type of locking system that balances security, convenience and safety for your premises is very crucial. You need to keep your premises safe from the malicious parties, while ensuring that the authorized entrants can conveniently enter and leave the premises, as well as that the doors ensure their safety in emergency situations. You also need to consider how these systems can be maintained, as well as the budgeting for implementing and maintaining the locks.

Within this process of contemplation, you must have come to consider the electric strikes (also known as electric locks) and magnetic locks (also known as mag locks). They are undoubtedly the strongest contenders for commercial lock options. While they share some similarities like being powered by electricity, they also have many distinctions. And of course this raises the comparison: when it comes to mag locks vs. electric strikes, which wins? And ultimately, which locking system would suit your premises best?

There is no cookie-cutter answer for which locking system might be the best, as there are different needs for different commercial properties. However, perhaps learning about the differences between mag locks and electric strikes, as well as the general pros and cons for each, may help you find the direction in your decision! Remember that a commercial locksmith can also provide you with security consultation and assistance for picking just the right locking system for your property needs.

Key Differences Between Electric Strikes (Electric Locks) And Magnetic Locks (Mag Locks)


  • Electric Strikes: The installation procedure for electric strikes is intricate and requires the need of seeking the services of a professional with robust expertise. They come with an electric motor and cables, which are all mounted within the door frame, and a strike that blocks the latch until a signal to retract.

    Due to the electric strike components having to be installed inside of the door frame and hence requiring thick frames, not all doors are compatible with the door strikes. For example, installing them on aluminum doors or other doors that do not have a solid structure can be tricky.
  • Magnetic Locks: Compared to electric strikes, electromagnetic locks are much simpler to install and do not have as intricate structure. They comprise a large electromagnet which is installed on the door frame top and a metal armature plate lined up with that electromagnet.

Overall, the installation procedure for electric strikes is more complex, time-consuming and expensive than magnetic locks. Additionally, when it comes to the electric strikes, you have to take into consideration whether your door would be compatible with them. Magnetic locks, on the other hand, have much simpler installation requirements.


  • Electric Strikes: Under an electric strike system, the doors remain locked until they receive an electric signal to unlock. The triggers for the signal can be sourced from whatever means chosen, e.g. keypads, smart locks, card readers, etc. The signal is received by the motor which controls the electricity in the system, which then transmits the signal to the strike. The strike moves away to allow the latch to be released and the door gets unlocked.
  • Magnetic Locks: Utilizing electromagnetism, the magnetic locks use electricity to run electric current through the electromagnet. This produces a magnetic field, attracting both the electromagnet and the armature to each other. When the door is closed, they both come into contact and form a firm bond to lock the door.

    This retention force is adaptable, and can be increased or decreased through adjusting the electric current. This bond between both components would be upheld until the disruption of power, which allows to release the lock. The disruption of power to unlock the door can be triggered through the means of keypads, card readers, smart locks and more.

Electric strikes utilize the power to unlock the door, while the magnetic locks need constant power to keep the door locked. This is a very notable difference between mag locks and electric strikes.

Power Modes

  • Electric Strikes: Electric strikes are capable of operating under the fail-secure mode. This means that even in the event of a power outage, the door would remain locked. However, since the electric strikes require power to unlock a door, obviously this can not be left as is.

    Otherwise, this would prevent people from leaving in the event of a power outage, posing a massive safety hazard and inconvenience, as well as law violation. Hence, fail-secure electric strikes are used with a panic bar in order to allow exiting the building even if power is out. Alternatively, electric strikes can also operate under the fail-safe mode.
  • Magnetic Locks: Magnetic locks, on the other hand, only operate in the fail-safe mode. This entails the door getting unlocked once it experiences a power supply cut due to the power outage. As magnetic locks require a constant supply of power to generate the magnetic charge for keeping the door locked, they are incapable of keeping the door locked due to lack of power.

    This is a major security concern, since it would leave your door vulnerable in the case of a power supply cut. In order to cover this area, you must have a back-up source for providing power to the magnetic locks to constantly function, e.g. a battery.

Electric strikes can operate under either the fail-secure or fail-safe mode, while magnetic locks operate exclusively under the fail-safe mode. Either of modes must have a back-up component: a panic door hardware for fail-secure mode to accommodate exiting the building during power outage and a back-up power source for fail-safe mode to keep the door locked during power outage.


  • Electric Strikes: Capable of holding force as high as 700 kilograms, electric strikes provide an excellent security and are effectively resistant to forceful break-in attempts with the robust strike in place. Additionally, they keep the door securely locked even in the event of a power outage, giving you the peace of mind that your door is always secure regardless of power supply status. Within this system, only one direction is locked, which can be an advantage depending upon your preferences.
  • Magnetic Locks: Magnetic locks can boast the holding force as high as 500 kilograms and are also capable of providing durable security with the strong magnetic force bond. Their holding force can be increased by controlling the retention force.

    A concerning security downside is them being unable to operate without power and unlocking the door should the power supply be cut, but that issue can be resolved through a back-up power source. Magnetic locks are capable of securing both sides of the door, but obviously this approach must take safety concerns and laws in consideration.

Both electric strikes and magnetic locks are capable of keeping your door durably secure. They both are high-security locks that can elevate your security much more strongly than many other locking systems. However, magnetic locks have the downside of unlocking the door when power supply is cut, but this can be covered by keeping a back-up power supply source.


  • Electric Strikes: The installation for electric strikes can be rather expensive due to the intricacy of the procedure. However, they are an economical choice overall, considering the costs for their purchase and long-term maintenance.
  • Magnetic Locks: Magnetic locks can take up a lot of your budget. Due to them using constant power supply, they can add up to the utility costs. Additionally, their back-up power source system needs to be established and regularly maintained.

While magnetic locks are less expensive to install than electric strikes, their maintenance and back-up system costs can be a lot more expensive. Electric strikes are a much more affordable choice.

Need Help With Making or Implementing Your Choice? Get in Touch With Us

Now that you have acknowledged the differences between mag locks and electric strikes, you are equipped with better knowledge for making the decision when considering the comparison of mag locks vs. electric strikes. Both locks offer their own set of strengths and downsides, and overall, they make excellent choices for securing commercial premises. They are very durable and resistant to break-in attempts through physical force or tampering, and offer a wide range of conveniences. If you are still in doubt, then you can seek consultation from a professional to help guide your decision.

And this is certainly something our expert locksmiths in Vaughan can assist with! We have robust knowledge of locking systems which countless commercial premises have benefited from. Not only can we help you choose the best access control system, we can also assist with delivering and installing it to your premises, making the process of securing your premise smooth for you.

Safeguard your property with our expert locksmith solutions. Get in touch with our approachable, knowledgeable team.