Panic Hardware

First, what is panic hardware?

It is a door component that was designed to allow fast and unencumbered exit from a doorway.

Panic hardware is typically found on hallway doors to aid in the smoke, fire or heat control of a hotel, hospital, or office building.

Panic doors must be able to be opened from the inside without a key, hardware must meet certain standards within compliance of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and also comply with other national, state, and local fire codes to pass inspections.

Exit Device

In addition, the exit device can be found on the exit doors of most high traffic buildings such as movie theaters, large arena complexes, or restaurants.

Panic hardware is necessary in almost any place where swift evacuation from a building may be the difference between life and death. The most basic device is a stand-alone piece of hardware that provides egress only.

Push Bar

Exit Door With Exit Device

How Does Panic Hardware Work?

Panic hardware is an emergency exit device installed on commercial doors and fire doors which allows fast and easy egress. Also known as a crash bar, push bar, or panic device, this mechanism unlatches the door without the need of a key, twisting, pushing levers, or any other unlocking maneuvers. To make it easy to see and to use, the spring-loaded crossbar or touchpad is fixed horizontally across the interior side of the door.  

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The most vital aspect of all panic devices is that no special knowledge is required to use them. One simply pushes a rod or a bar, causing the latch mechanism to retract. The person can then push the door open and exit the building.

Panic Device

These types of devices function differently than a typical door lock, in that they are designed to allow exit without the use of a key or any rotary motion of any kind.

They are typically installed in the path of travel toward the exit of a building or controlled corridor. These devices are supposed to be equally suitable for the usage of both handicapped and able-bodied individuals.


Most modern panic devices are commonly referred to as “Crash-Bars”.

This piece of hardware is generally made up of a flat integral component that when pushed against, retracts a latch mechanism.

There are several options for the exterior side of a door equipped with an exit device. Some exit devices can be used as an exit only, and there can then be no reentry through this doorway.


Some exit only doors will also have a keyed lock cylinder on the exterior side of the door that would retract the latch mechanism when the key is turned. This allows an authorized user to open the door from the exterior side of the opening.

Security Options

In some sophisticated installations, a card key reader or push-button entry code reader could be used to retract the latching mechanism. Many higher security options are available as well, depending on the landowner’s preferences.

Panic Device 0005 panic device with alarm

Emergency Exit Door With Exit Device

Panic Device 0007 panic device

Another common feature of many panic devices is the ability to “dog-down” (to hold open or restrain the device from latching). This feature can be used when a panic device is in an area that needs to remain unlatched. For an example in a doorway of a restaurant or store where the fire code requires that the premises remain unlocked during normal business hours. 

Panic Devices

Depending upon the conditions of the installation, panic devices can be installed individually or work in pairs.

Some panic devices are activated electronically, have built-in delay circuitry, and are capable of being integrated into sophisticated monitored alarm and access systems. Additionally, they can be fire rated or unrated.

You should also consider making sure the hardware you choose to install meets or exceeds recommended fire ratings by the researchers at Underwriter Laboratories to ensure that they will function optimally during actual fire situations.

Do Not Underestimate A Proper Installation

Injuries resulting from panic hardware are quite common. Most often, they are a result of shoddy installation, lack of maintenance, and/or cheap parts.

As New York’s premier door repair and hardware expert, our technicians have installed and serviced thousands of panic devices and similar hardware to ensure that this will never happen to our customers and those they serve.

Panic Device 0001 push bar
Importance of a Professional Installation

When a panic bar is improperly installed by inexperienced technicians or has been damaged by abuse or poor maintenance, the effectiveness of its intended function cannot be assured.

Misalignment of latching components can be the cause of panic device failure.

Proper Installation

Alternatively, devices that were improperly positioned can also fail by not releasing to allow the unrestricted egress as required from an area, potentially trapping someone inside a hazardous area. For this reason, proper installation and maintenance of panic hardware are essential.

Access door from the exterior:

Commercial panic exit devices are designed the same in which you will always have a manual exit from the building, that choice is easy. Although what is not as easy to decide if and how to allow access from the exterior. Depending on the purpose of the door you may determine to not have any door trim on the outside at all.

A Crash-Bar and Automatic Locking

If the door is not a heavily used exterior door you may use a crash bar with cylinder lock access and put a dummy pull handle on the outside. This would result in key access only and automatic locking as soon as the key is removed from the door. If the door is heavily used outside trim such as knob or lever handles can be used. In this case, the handle would be locked or unlocked and general access can be allowed.

Lastly, for higher security properties that must allow general access, electronic access can be paired with all of the surface mount panic exit bars. This has nearly unlimited variations of access possibilities.