Join or Sign in

Register for your free asmag.com membership or if you are already a member,
sign in using your preferred method below.

To check your latest product inquiries, manage newsletter preference, update personal / company profile, or download member-exclusive reports, log in to your account now!
Login asmag.comMember Registration
https://www.dahuasecurity.com/products/keyTechnologies/902
INSIGHTS

Fail safe vs. fail secure: Why you should know the difference

Fail safe vs. fail secure: Why you should know the difference
Fail safe and fail secure are important concepts to know, since installing the right product can help save lives and keep company assets secure. This note discusses what their main differences are and how to make the right selection.
Fail safe and fail secure are terms common among security professionals and installers. They are important concepts to know, since installing the right product can help save lives and keep company assets secure. This note discusses what their main differences are and how to make the right selection.

What is fail safe? What is fail secure?

These refer to the type of access control in the event of power outage. During an emergency, be it a fire or a severe storm, power may go out. Making sure the organization's staff and data can remain safe and secure during this time, then, is important.
 
This is where knowing the difference between fail safe and fail secure becomes critical. Below we discuss key points the users should know about fail safe and fail secure.

What’s different between fail safe and fail secure?

 Fail safe, as its name suggests, keeps things safe during a power failure. In a fail safe configuration, the door is unlocked when power is gone. “Fail safe, or fail open, requires an electric current to hold it closed. A maglock is an example of this type of lock. If there is a power failure, all the doors are unlocked. This is ‘safer’ in a fire,” said Bob Mesnik, President of Kintronics.
 
Fail secure, on the other hand, keeps things secure during a power failure. In fail secure mode, the door is locked when power is gone. “Fail secure is also called fail-locked or non-fail safe. In this configuration, applying an electrical current to the strike will cause it to open. If power is lost, the lock stays shut. If the door has a strike in the fail-secure configuration and there is a power failure, people can still exit by turning the knob from the inside, but the people can’t get in. A maglock would require a backup battery to be configured in a fail-secure configuration,” Mesnik said.

How to know if I should use fail safe or fail secure lock?

 Fail safe doors are unlocked when power goes out. This ensures that medical staff or first responders can get into the building quickly and freely. As such, fail safe is typically deployed in lobbies and stairwells.
 
Fail secure doors are locked when power goes out. This can be applied to certain areas in the building where access should still be limited even during a power outage. “There may be a reason to use fail secure in internal doors. For example, you may want to keep the computer room secure during a power failure,” Mesnik said.
 
Needless to say, there are different accesses in a building. As such, the user may require both configurations in their entities. According to a blogpost by Automated Systems Design, the following can be used to guide the decision on whether fail safe or fail secure should be used:
 
  • During a power outage, would the locked door endanger lives? If yes, use fail-safe.
  • During a power outage, would the unlocked door put valuables or sensitive information at risk? If yes, use fail-secure.

Egress

Egress means exit. It should be pointed out fail safe and fail secure both refer to entry configurations seen from the outside. During an emergency, people can still go out of a door regardless it’s fail safe or fail secure.
 
“Doors that have fail-secure locks can also be equipped with exit devices that facilitate exit in a fire. For example, a door can include a REX (request to exit) button, a motion detector, a crash bar, or a power control from the fire alarm box that assures the door is easily opened in an emergency,” Mesnik said.

Which one is more expensive or harder to install

When using a strike, there is usually no difference in cost or installation. “Most strikes have two modes that are selected by the wiring. Mag-locks would require an extra battery to provide power during a power failure so they are more expensive and more complicated to wire,” Mesnik said.
 
Power consumption is another factor. For example, fail safe requires constant power to keep doors shut and therefore may be more expensive.

Conclusion

 Fail safe and fail secure – choosing the right solution is a balancing act between security and safety. There are also other factors at play, for example local fire codes. Either way, it’s important for the user to gain a deep understanding about both. Making the right selection can ultimately help save lives and reduce damage to a minimal.


Product Adopted:
Locks
Subscribe to Newsletter
Stay updated with the latest trends and technologies in physical security

Share to: