Push to Exit Buttons

Explore two main types of push-to-exit buttons, and the considerations to take note when deciding between the two types. Read on to find out more!

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Today, businesses often implement security measures to stop unauthorized personnel from getting into a building or restricted area. To do this, access control systems are installed on doors, exits, and gates. This ensures that only authorized individuals are granted access to the building. At the same time, someone inside the building will want to exit. However, exiting the building does not require any sophisticated equipment. Only a simple device will be needed to unlock the door. The push to exit button is often the item of choice.

What is a Push to Exit Button?

Push to exit buttons are an essential part of access control applications. It is a spring-loaded, button which is often mounted on a stainless steel plate. The button comes in different styles. It can be a simple or large button, green, or button that illuminate LED lights. The exit push button is used to “request to exit” devices in the access control system that are used on doors, exits, gates, automation control, and so forth.

When Should a Push to Exit Button Be Installed?

One of the advantages of the push to exit button is the versatility it offers. Exit buttons are suitable for use in electronic locking solution which needs to provide a free exit option on the door. The exit push button can be used on fire doors, gates, or anywhere you can install an access control system. It can be used as exit devices in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.

In some cases, the push to exit buttons can be used when the access control panel fails to unlock the door. It can be used when the door’s handle isn’t suitable, or the user is not able to use the handle physically. However, the button must be able to hold enough power for the door to open freely.

How Does the Exit Push Button Work?

The push to exit button is connected to the access control application, which controls the locking mechanism of the door, using wires. Any individual that needs to exit the building or pass through the door simply has to push or press the button.

When pushed, it momentarily releases the fail-secure or fail-safe lock of the door. The exit button releases power to the magnetic lock. With this, the door automatically releases and allows free exit. The lock will disengage, thus, opening the door as required.

Push to exit buttons mainly come in two types:

1. Regular wall-mount push to exit buttons

2. Motion sensors to trigger the door to unlock

There are also panic exit devices such as push to exit bars. Here is a quick video of how push to exit buttons work:

Either one of the push-to-exit or motions sensor can be used for securing doors that can't be unlocked with a regular lock or deadbolt. That means we are talking about locks which are locked permanently and you can only get out if you trigger the exit sensor or push to exit button. The biggest manufacturer is Seco-Larm who manufactures the Enforcer brand push to exit buttons.

Here are more details around push to exit buttons and our opinion and rating:

Push to exit (or push to release) button

You have seen this on the inside of many offices because the push to exit button is mostly illuminated so people find it in emergency cases.

Kisi's opinion: Push to exit buttons will be used quite a lot. It pays off to invest in a good model, but stay away from the "touch buttons" for exit, you need something that works very quick and reliably. If people have to figure out how to get out, that's going to be frustrating.

Guide to Install

Motion sensors can take over the job of push to exit buttons. They are mounted right over the door at the inside of the door frame. Due to their motion sensor they can trigger motion and thus unlock the door right when you walk up to the door to exit the space.

Kisi's opinion: Strongly recommend motion sensors for larger offices. You don't want to push a button to get out of the office all day long.
Motion sensor for doors
motion sensor

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How to connect a Request to Exit button in a Kisi stand-alone setup

When installing Kisi as a stand alone product on a Fail-Safe lock, it is important to understand how to wire necessary, non-Kisi components to the setup. This guide specifically will explain the wiring of a Request to Exit (REX) button.

push to exit button installed
Door setup with push to exit button

Note: A REX button is primarily used in Kisi-standalone installations on a Fail-Safe lock. There should be no need to install a REX for Fail-Secure locks because you should always have free egress via lockset.

Here are the questions you should ask when installing a REX button:

Where are you getting your power from?

You may have a few options for a power source during your installation. The main options we will discuss are 1) External Power Supply and 2) Kisi Pro Controller’s power outputs.

Kisi recommends that you always power your ancillary components based off of an external power supply. An external power supply is more likely to provide the amperage you need to power those components. As a reminder, if you pull more than 4A through the Kisi Controller, the board will short circuit and become useless.

If you are in a situation where you do not have a power supply on hand and need to power a small amount of ancillary components, you can elect to use the power outputs located on the Kisi Controller.

How are you connecting your REX button with the rest of your circuit?

The typical REX button has 5 wires, (+, -, COM, NO, NC), although only 4 are needed for normal operation. Two wires (+, -) will power the LED on the button, and two wires ( C-NC or C-NO) will serve as signal wires that connect to the rest of your installation components (lock, Kisi, other ancillary parts).

push to exit button wiring guide
Push to exit button wiring guide

Note: + and - can sometimes be labeled as LED+ and LED- but are essentially the same.

If you are not completely familiar with installing REX buttons, Kisi highly recommends that you make your connections one pair at a time. The easiest connection order is as follows:

Connect and power the LED on your REX button

Connect + and - on the REX button to power the LED light using a 12/24V power supply. When you plug the power supply in, you should see the LED light of the button turn on. If the button does not light up, you may have to observe the polarity of the LED. Swap the wires on the button’s terminals and plug in the button again to test.

Connect the circuit signal wires to Common (COM) and Normally Closed (NC)

If you are wiring a Fail-Safe lock, you must maintain a closed (Series) circuit to continuously power your lock. From the COM port on the REX, connect to the positive lead of your power supply. From the NC port on your REX, connect to the COM of the next hardware component in the circuit. This could be a motion sensor, maglock, or Kisi.

In order to test this connection, you will need to wire the button to power.

Connect and power the REX button itself (separate from the LED in step 1)

This connection will provide power to your REX button. Connect the negative terminal from your REX button to the negative lead from your power supply. Then, connect the positive terminal from your REX button to the positive lead from your power supply.

When you plug your power supply back in, you should have the LED of the button turn on. As long as you’ve completed the rest of your circuit, when you press the button, it should open your circuit and release the door lock.

Below is a basic diagram outlining what your entire wiring setup should look like:

If the button does not release the door

A failure in the controlling circuit is preventing power from being interrupted to the lock. It could be a shorted wire in a power transfer, or some other failed device in the circuit.

To identify the issue, you should test each option to open the circuit. In most cases that will be the keypad, push to exit button, motion sensor, and Kisi. If you can open the circuit with other components, then you can narrow down your issue.

Assuming the issue exists with the REX button, you should double check all of your connections. Make sure you observe polarity in your power connections and make sure your signal wires are connected to the proper terminals (NC and COM). If the issue still persists, the REX button may be damaged and you should consider installing a new button.

How to Choose the Right Push to Exit Button for Your Access Control System

Furthermore, it is important to choose the ideal exit push button for your access control system. However, the right exit button for your access control application will depend on your existing door locking system. The available exit buttons include:

  • N/C circuits – Normally Closed Circuit
  • N/O circuits – Normally Open Circuit
  • COM option

The N/C interrupts power flow when the exit button is pressed while the N/O allows power to flow when the button is pressed. The COM option can operate for both closed and open circuits. Ensure that you use the right push to exit button, which is compatible with your access control system.

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