The 411 on Exit Devices and Panic Bars
Which Type of Exit Device is Best?
When choosing an exit device for a commercial door, you should consider the type of door you will be installing it on, the material it is made from, and the scenario in which someone will be using the door. Different exit devices are better in certain situations depending on the door’s use.
Alarmed exit devices let the user know that the fire-rated door will sound when opened and should only be used in dire situations.
For doors that are commonly used to exit the building, but should have no exterior access, a simple rim exit device combined with a heavy-duty door is a great choice.
Ease of Access
Single doors that need both quick egress in emergencies and the ability to be opened from the outside may benefit from an exit device trim on the exterior.
Vertical rod exit devices are used with double doors that do not have a fixed mullion for a latch. Instead, the rods will lock latches into place below or above the door.
For buildings that need to meet the code specified by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a concealed vertical rod exit device may be the best choice. Ensure your exit device is ADA compliant if needed.
Exit devices can be made from a few different materials, but tainless steel is a very common choice because of it’s durability and clean look.
Frequently Asked Questions
Fire-rated door units have to be self-closing and self-latching so you cannot hex dog, cylinder dog or dog down a fire rated exit device. Nonfire-rated exit devices on the other hand can be dogged down because they do not have to be self-latching.
RX (request to exit) Signal Switch feature is used to signal the use of an opening from the push side. When the push pad is depressed, the switch is activated. These devices are equipped with an internal SPDT (single pole double throw) switch that monitors the touch bar.
Exit device dogging is when a dogging key is used on the exit device to hold the latch bolt in its retracted state. When the latch bolt is retracted, the door can be opened by being pushed or pulled from anywhere. You will not need to depress the touch bar to open the door or turn a handle and can open it non-handed.
Check your specific device's instructions, but you can often find the dogging screw in the center of the push bar. You will need a dogging key to turn this screw and retract the latch.
Panic bars consist of a flat, horizontal bar attached to the inside of an outward-opening door. This flat bar retracts a latch mechanism when pushed, unlocking the door for fast exit. Doors using a classic crash bar require no knowledge or keys to operate and are ADA-compliant for handicapped usage.
A panic bar, sometimes referred to as a crash bar or panic device, is used for quickly unlocking a door during an emergency situation. Designed for life safety compliance, the mechanism consists of a spring-loaded metal bar fixed horizontally to the inside of an egress-opening door. They require no previous knowledge to operate and can even be opened by users with limited mobility that may have a hard time using a traditional style door handle.
Narrow stile panic bars/exit devices are full glass doors or mounting when the space on the rails is limited. In most cases, the rails of the door would be less than 4" but differ pending on the make and model of the manufacturer.