There are many different types of locks and locking hardware available, and it’s not always easy to determine the difference between product types. On the surface, they may seem (and even look) similar, but as you learned when we discussed the difference between mortise and cylindrical locks, there’s often a huge difference. Today we dive into the variances between panic versus exit bars.
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. When the lever is depressed, it activates a mechanism which unlatches the door. This actuation allows occupants to quickly exit from the building, avoiding delay and crowds, which are known to be highly hazardous in emergencies. So when is panic hardware required? The 2009 edition of the International Building Code requires panic hardware on buildings that are classified as Education (E), High Hazard (H), and Assembly (A) Occupancies along with an occupant load of 50 or more.
An exit device (exit hardware or exit bar) is a locking device consisting of a bar across the inside of a door. When the bar is pushed, the door latch is released. When the door is installed on occupancies other than E, H, and A with an occupant load of LESS THAN 50, a standard exit device is acceptable. Unlike panic bars, these devices can require a key or code to exit because code doesn’t require the life safety standards of panic hardware.