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BHMA was founded in 1925 as the Hardware Manufacturers’ Statistical Association. Today BHMA is nationally recognized for its leadership role in ensuring the quality and performance of builders hardware.

BHMA Building Hardware Manufacturer Association

Builders Hardware Goes Electronic – and Gets Put to the Test 

When it comes to architectural hardware, electronics are probably not the first thing that springs to mind. But take a closer look – electronic hardware devices are in most of the facilities you interact with every day: airports, hospitals, malls, grocery stores, hotels, and more.

Electronic and electrified hardware is playing an increasingly significant role in builders hardware, especially when it comes to maintaining the delicate balance between security and accessibility in public spaces. It has proven useful in controlling access points while complying with government codes, preserving energy, and managing the flow of large groups of people.

The Builders Hardware Manufacturer’s Association (BHMA) certifies all types of builders hardware and over the decades has expanded its standards to include rigorous testing for emerging technology and the ever-growing roster of electronic hardware products. So what are they and where are they most common? And how are they tested?

Power-Operated Doors. Probably one of the most prevalent and familiar electronic builders hardware, power-operated doors are actually broken down into three categories:

Electric Strikes and Electrified Locks. To secure doors, electric strikes and electrified locks play an integral role in the security of many buildings, such as banks. For example, electric strikes are commonly found on the doors of ATM vestibules in order to prevent unauthorized access. When the proper credential is swiped (such as a bank card), it causes the frame itself to be retracted from the lock or latch and release the door without the need for manual lock operation.

Since electric strikes preceded much of the electronic builders hardware seen today, it was one of the first standards for electronic hardware that BHMA specified. Standard A156.31 tests electric strikes and frame mounted actuators.

Electrified Keys. In situations where actual keys are necessary, electrified keys offer a variety of options. Electrical contact readers, insertion or swipe cards, electronic sensor keys, proximity cards (also known as “prox cards”) and keypads all provide a higher level of specificity in determining who can access a property than traditional keys inserted into mechanical locks.

Delayed Egress Locks. Delayed egress locks can be extremely helpful in fulfilling egress requirements. These are electrified locks installed to control access over what is usually an emergency exit. For example, to be up to code, hotels are required to have a certain number of exits, but owners want control over who enters and exits from that door when there is not an emergency.

When the door to exit is pressed, a delayed egress lock will not allow the door to release for several seconds. Upon being opened, an alarm will sound to indicate that it has been activated. These doors usually have signs which indicate, “Press exit, alarm will sound.” Due to the obvious safety implications, these must be heavily tested and can delay egress no more than 15 seconds, depending on the specific application.

Electrified locking systems are covered in ANSI/BHMA standard A156.25, which encompasses locking devices, input devices, controlling devices, and power supplies. Delayed egress locks are covered in ANSI/BHMA 156.24

Hinges. Finally, hinges are a surprising product often featuring electricity. Since hinges involve minimal movement, they have proven a useful storage vehicle to thread electrical wiring from the frame to the door.

While electromagnetic locks, electric strikes, electrified keys, and other products can be some of the most difficult to specify, Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association ensures its technical committees are always up-to-date on products, using members as an important resource.

Learn more about electrified builders hardware and its testing at or ordering a copy of the full list of ANSI/BHMA Standards.

For more help, view the BHMA “A Guide to Builders Hardware Terminology