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What Is An Electronic Lock? What Types Are There?

Sep. 18, 2021


The security provided by electronic locks extends from the security of the public to the security of private property. These locks, like all electronics, cater for a wide range of needs. Everything from homes to the highest levels of government security have been addressed with electronic locks.


Electronic locks allow you to choose your own adventure. The pairing of both unlocking and locking devices will affect the final outcome of your protection. This is important considering individual needs and the ever-changing nature of new technology. ZHONGDING gives you an overview of how electronic locks work and the common types.


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What is an electronic lock?

Electronic smart locks are locked or unlocked with the help of an electric current. Electric current can be used to power an electromagnet, a solenoid (an electromagnet with a single coil) or a motor. These devices will activate the lock in a fail-safe or fail-safe manner.

In most cases, how the device works will determine whether a power failure will lock or open a door, gate, hatch, etc. For other electronic locks, building codes may restrict the use of fail-safe or fail-safe. The main types of electronic locks are:


Electric strike

Electric strikes have a spring loaded keeper that manipulates the bolt on the lock. Without a suitable entry tool the keeper will remain in place. It can only be released and the bolt allowed to retract after correct verification with the keeper. The device is mounted on the door frame or, in the case of double doors, on a fixed door.

In most cases this type of strike is used to safely exit the building and in most cases will open from the inside even in a fail-safe situation. This is done by manual operation. A key can also be designed to override the lock from the outside.

Electric latch retraction

This electronic lock is designed with a unique fail-safe feature. The bolt will remain retracted until the current is cut or disabled. When there is no current, the bolt will remain secure, so special precautions must be taken in case of an emergency. As this is a high security device, a separate power supply is required so that a fire alarm can open these doors (if required or desired).

Electromechanical lock

This lock has a fail-safe or fail-safe function. They take their name from their contents and internal operation. A cross-section of this type of lock will show the latch and gear system that can be manipulated by the use of a lock cylinder and/or electric current. In the fail-safe version of this lock, the electric current will cause the bolt in the lock to remain extended. As a result of a power failure, the door will be fully unlocked and in the case of a fire the door can be set to power down. The fail-safe version will use the current to retract the bolt, so it will remain locked until the system is powered back on.

Electromagnetic locks

The electromagnetic lock is one of the most common types of magnetic lock. It uses a magnet that is generated when current is passed through a wire or solenoid that has multiple coils around a core. When the current is interrupted, the wire is no longer magnetised. Due to the nature of the electromagnet, it cannot be failsafe, which means that the door will unlock in the event of an emergency or power failure. The built-in function of unlocking in the event of a power failure (called fail-safe) is the founding concept of the solenoid.


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