With the way manufacturers brand and rebrand their products, one can easily confuse an exit bar and a panic bar. However, both are exit devices and can be used in addition to locks and keys. Let’s consider the slight difference between the two to determine the most suitable one for your facility.


What is a Panic Bar?

A panic bar can also be called a push bar or a panic device. It is used for opening a door in case of an emergency. A panic bar allows occupants in a building to evacuate a building quickly. It is usually installed on fire doors and commercial doors.

A panic bar is designed with a push button metal bar or touchpad. This touchpad, horizontally attached to the door side, makes it easier for people to open without a key, lever, etc. However, most public buildings like schools, supermarkets, hospitals, theaters, or airports have panic bars installed by a locksmith.


When a Panic Device is Required?

According to the IBC (International Building Code) basic requirement in the 2006 edition, panic devices are required in buildings under the following classification:

  • Education (E)
  • High Hazard (H)
  • Assembly (A)

Any of the above-mentioned structures with 50 or more occupancies are required to have a panic hardware device on doors that latch or lock. Yet, the only exception is the high-hazard facility with any number of occupants.

In addition, structures within premises that can occupy 50 or more people are not under the requirement to have panic hardware on their doors. This includes retail facilities, office buildings, and apartments with no educational, high hazard, or assembly.


What are Exit Bars?

Simply put, exit bars are locking devices with a bar fixed across the door from the inside. The latch is released just by pressing the bar to allow exit.

Contrary to panic bars, exit bars can require a code or key to exit a building. They are used without following the life safety standards applied to panic hardware. For instance, If a facility’s occupant load is less than 50 and doesn’t fall under the E, H, or A classification, an exit bar will be a suitable choice as an exit device. In such cases, exit bars can be used since they require either a code or key to exit.


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