Understanding Electrified Panic Devices: How They Work and Why You Need Them

emergency exit

Panic hardware allows for quick and easy egress from commercial doors. These devices, called crash bars, enable occupants to exit without twisting or pushing levers.

Local building and fire safety codes dictate what type of panic hardware must be used in different commercial settings. This is why understanding a wide range of electrified options, such as electric latch retraction, delayed egress, and ADA requirements, is essential for specifiers.

How They Work

Panic hardware is required for doors leading to classrooms, theaters, and other occupancies with a high number of people or calculated occupant load. Codes also need them for rooms housing electrical equipment of a specific voltage or amperage and some refrigeration machinery rooms.

Now, what are electrified panic devices? Electrified panic bars provide free egress from the push side of the door in an emergency, such as a fire. They are typically tied to the fire alarm system and operate automatically when activated by a fire sensor. This ensures occupants can exit quickly, and the door cannot be locked from the inside with a key or other locking device.

Electrified panic hardware can be used with various locks depending on the application. Touchpad-style hardware with electric latch retraction can work with most door types and is the most common choice when access control is involved. In this case, presenting a valid credential to an access control reader unlocks the lever trim to retract the panic hardware’s latches.

Why You Need Them

Building and fire safety codes require an electrified panic bar for a quality door that leads to egress from buildings. The requirements are based on local laws, so always consult your building and fire codes to find the specifics for your area.

Panic hardware must be mounted between 34 and 48 inches above the floor, and a minimum of 15 pounds of force must be applied to the touchpad or crossbar to release the latches. The hardware must also be marked as emergency exits and must comply with ADA standards for accessibility.

Panic devices are not the most stylish and are essential in an emergency. Unlike access control systems that require coordination between the door leaves, panic devices bypass the electronics and open the door directly. This allows people to escape without having to unlock and lock a door, preventing them from getting trapped on the other side of a locked door.


Panic bars are typically used on emergency exits, and they can be wired to alarms so that if you open the door, it will trigger your system’s alarm. You must work with a security company to ensure your panic bar is properly installed and wired to work with your system.

There are also regulations regarding panic hardware that you need to be aware of. For example, some require panic hardware for doors leading to rooms that contain electrical equipment of a specific voltage or amperage. It also stipulates that panic hardware must be mounted at a certain height. When choosing panic hardware for your project, local codes and manufacturers’ certifications.

It offers various industrial, commercial, and architectural exit devices and retrofit electric latch retraction kits for virtually any application. 


Panic bars (rim exit devices, push bars, and crash bars) replace traditional door handles and locks in interior doors. They’re often required in high-occupied areas as part of life safety codes to allow quick and efficient egress during emergencies or other crises.

Most panic bar models are recessed to reduce visibility from the door’s surface and can only be installed on hollow metal doors. Some styles can be pushed or pulled with the touchpad, while others require a pivotal cylinder to open. Many types are also available in different finishes to fit your building’s aesthetic.

You can add a mechanical dogging feature to your panic bar to hold the latch(es) in a retracted position when not in use to keep the door open for free egress and prevent intruders from entering your facility. Dogging isn’t possible for fire doors wired to fire alarms but is an excellent option for other types of panic hardware on interior access doors.


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