Basics of Exit Devices

Exit devices come in mortise, rim, surface, and concealed vertical rod exit device configurations that can provide electrified functions such as electric latch retraction, locking (and unlocking), dogging, exit alarms, and delayed egress. Exit devices are categorized as either panic or fire exit hardware and have a touch bar, cross bar, or integral device design. Fire exit hardware must be labeled and tested for use on fire-rated assemblies and some features of standard panic hardware cannot be used on fire-rated openings.

Touch Bar

Touch bar devices are the most common design of exit devices used today. When pushed, the push pad retracts the latch, allowing the door to swing open. Width of the touch bar must be one half the width of the door or greater.

Cross Bar

Cross bar devices are used much less as touch bar and integral devices have become more common. The latch is retracted when the the bar is moved down towards the door.


Integral devices are similar in function to touch bar devices, but the device is recessed into the face of the door.

Rim Exit Device

Rim devices are surface mounted.

Mortise Exit Device

Mortise devices have a lock body that is installed in a mortise pocket prepped door. Latch bolt engages the strike on frame on single opening or inactive door on pairs.

Surface Vertical Rod Exit Device

Surface vertical road exit devices have both a top and bottom rod and latch or just a top rod and latch. The rods are visible and extend the full height of the door.

Concealed Vertical Rod Exit Device

Concealed vertical road exit devices have both a top and bottom rod and latch or just a top rod and latch. The rods are not visible and are installed in the lock stile of the door.

Features and Related Details About Exit Devices

Dogging, mechanical or electronic – Panic hardware can be mechanically or electronically dogged to hold the latch bolt in the retracted position.

Electric latch retraction – Latchbolt can be electrically retracted momentarily or held in the retracted position to make the opening push/pull, depending on the desired application.

Exit alarms – Exit devices can be configured with an exit alarm to sound when the door is opened to deter unauthorized use, such as on emergency exits.

Delayed egress – Prevents immediate egress for a specified amount of time, commonly 15 or 30 seconds, for specific applications that require a delayed door opening.

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