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Panic bar on red door


Panic bars are very common in all types of commercial buildings. These devices are made up of spring loaded metal bars that are horizontally attached to the inside of a door. They are used in place of a conventional door lever or knob and are designed to allow quick and easy egress from a building. Simply push the metal bar to unlatch and open the door. Panic bars were originally designed as a safety device for buildings. During an emergency in a crowded facility, standard door knobs and levers can greatly impede a mass evacuation and cause crowd crushing. Tragedies in the past have led to the invention of this safey device. Since the advent of panic bars, building evacuations have been much safer and more efficient.


The greatest benefit of panic bars is, by far, safety. Allowing safe, quick and easy egress from a facility is one of the most important safety requirements of a building and have been proven to save lives. In addition to this main advantage, panic bars are:

  • Economical - When comparing the overall maintenance cost and lifespan of a panic bar to their conventional counterparts, these devices will cost you less in the long run and take less time to maintain.
  • Durable - Panic bars are designed for very high traffic exit points in a building, which is why they are built to withstand much more stress than the typical doorknob. As a result, they will last much longer and require less maintenance.
  • Great for insurance rates - Since panic bars are meant to improve the overall safety of a building, insurance carriers will sometimes provide a discount for having these exit devices installed on doors throughout a property.


The terms panic bar, push bar and crash bar are used interchangeably and refer to the same general category of an exit device. However, there are many different types of these devices. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Rim - The most basic type of panic bar, this variation is surface mounted on the door with a latch that projects from the device itself. They are very economical and easy to maintain, which makes them a great choice in many applications.
  • Mortise - This type of exit device is surface mounted on the door with a mortise lock incorporated in the side of the door. Preparation and installation is generally more laborious and complex, which makes them less commonly used.
  • Surface Vertical Rod - The hardware on this panic bar consists of 2 veritical rods extending the height of the door, which have lockable latches at the top and bottom of the device. This setup, along with the concealed variant, is typically utilized on double door applications.
  • Concealed Vertical Rod - Like the surface mounted type, the concealed vertical rod uses 2 vertical rods with lockable latches at both ends. However, this model has the rods hidden within the door. Cables instead of rods are available as well.

There are several different designs for these exit device as well, some of the most widely used are:

  • Push Pad - This device consists of a raised horizontal metal pad-like structure that typically does not extend the entire width of the device.
  • Cross Bar - Rod-like bar that extends the entire width of the device.
  • Recessed - The design on this type of panic device is made up of a wide bar that is usually as wide as the device and has a reduced projection from the door.