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How Does a Panic Exit Device Work?

How Does a Panic Exit Device Work?

A panic exit device, also known as a panic bar or crash bar, is an essential piece of hardware that allows people to quickly and safely exit a building during an emergency. Panic exit devices are often required by building codes and regulations for public buildings and areas with high occupancy. But how exactly do they work?

Mechanical Operation

Most panic exit devices operate mechanically, meaning they do not rely on electricity or any other external power source to function. Instead, they are designed with a series of interconnected mechanical components that allow the device to be easily opened from the inside, while also preventing unauthorized entry from the outside.

The basic components of a mechanical panic exit device include:

  • The latch bolt: A spring-loaded bolt that keeps the door securely closed until someone pushes the panic bar. When the bar is pushed, the latch bolt retracts, allowing the door to open.
  • The push bar: A horizontal bar that extends across the width of the door and is attached to the latch bolt. When the push bar is depressed, it disengages the latch bolt and allows the door to open.
  • The dogging mechanism: A feature that allows the latch bolt to be held in the retracted position, keeping the door open until it is manually reset.
  • The strike plate: The metal plate on the door frame that the latch bolt engages with when the door is closed.

When someone pushes the panic bar, the horizontal push bar rotates and depresses a mechanism that releases the latch bolt. This allows the door to be easily pushed open from the inside, providing a quick and safe exit route for occupants. If the dogging mechanism is engaged, the door can be kept open for an extended period of time, such as during a fire drill or other planned evacuation.

Electric Operation

While most panic exit devices operate mechanically, some models also feature electric operation. These devices are commonly used in buildings with higher security needs, such as government facilities or financial institutions.

Electric panic exit devices work similarly to mechanical models, but they also feature an electric latch retraction system. This system uses a solenoid or motor to retract the latch bolt when an electric signal is sent to the device, allowing the door to be opened electronically. This can be done through a variety of methods, such as a keypad or card reader.

Electric panic exit devices also often have a remote dogging feature, allowing the door to be held open or released from a remote location.


Panic exit devices are critical components of building safety and security, providing a quick and easy way for occupants to exit a building during an emergency. Whether mechanically or electrically operated, these devices are designed to withstand heavy use and provide reliable performance for many years.

At Automatic Door and Hardware, we offer a wide selection of panic exit devices to meet the needs of any commercial building. Our knowledgeable team can help you choose the right device for your specific application, and our competitive pricing ensures that you get the best value

Commercial door panic bars and exit device hardware are available at www.autodoorandhardware.com.

Disclaimer: The material in this article has no regard to the specific installation, building code requirements, law requirements, authority having jurisdiction, local or state requirements, or any particular needs of any viewer. This article is presented solely for informational and entertainment purposes and is not to be construed as a recommendation or solicitation. Nor should any of its content be taken as advice. Automatic Door and Hardware is not an installation advisor. The views expressed in this article are completely speculative opinions and do not guarantee any specific result. Commercial doors, hardware, and automatic door parts should only be worked on by trained, qualified, and licensed professionals; failure to do so can result in danger. Any opinions expressed in this article are subject to change without notice. Automatic Door and Hardware is not under any obligation to update or keep current the information contained herein. Automatic Door and Hardware may have an interest in the securities and commodities of any entities referred to in this material. Automatic Door and Hardware accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss or damage of any kind arising out of the use of all or any part of this material. Automatic Door and Hardware recommends that you consult with a licensed and qualified professional before making any modifications or repairs to commercial doors, automatic doors, or hardware components of those doors. The content covered in this article is NOT to be considered as advice. I’m NOT an adviser. These are only my own personal and speculative opinions, ideas, theories, hypotheses, charts, technical analysis, insights, and curated news publications. The technical analysis in this article is completely speculative and does NOT guarantee any specific result. The technical analysis in this article has NO proven rate of accuracy. Do NOT repair or modify your doors and/or hardware based upon the analysis presented in this article. Always do your own research and only use trained and licensed professionals for any repairs or modifications. I will NOT be held liable for any of your personal repairs or modifications or any losses/damages that you may incur if you do repair or modify your doors and/or hardware. Information provided through this article is provided to you as is without any express representations or warranties of any kind, and we make no representation or warranty that this article (or any information provided in response to your inquiry), will be accurate, complete, or error-free. You agree that you must evaluate all information and responses, and that you bear all risks associated with, the use of this article, including any reliance on the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information or materials made available through this article. This article is purely for entertainment purposes only!

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