How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Panic Bar?
An “Exit Device”, also known as a “Panic Bar” or “Crash Bar” is hardware designed to be installed on the secured side (inside) of a door which opens outward. It provides single motion, almost effortless, ease in exiting the door; while also providing security against intrusion. Most people never even think about them until something goes wrong and they stop operating correctly. Technically, these exit devices are either “Panic Hardware” or “Fire Exit Hardware.” The devices should be physically labeled as one or the other, and must meet the criteria to be labeled as such.
The following table summarizes the cost for specific types of panic bars using at least commercial grade 2 product.
Note: We urge you to stay away from the ultra-cheap import versions of panic bars. Though their cost is attractive, but the liability risk and longevity of the parts makes them not worth the saving.
Table: Panic Bar Replacement Cost
|Type of Panic Bar||Self-Installed Cost||Professional Installation Cost by a Licensed Locksmith||Professional Installation Cos of High-End Panic Device|
|Rim Exit Device Installation Cost||$ 300||$ 500||$ 1700|
|Mortise Exit Device Installation Cost||Not Rec||$ 800||$ 2500|
|Vertical Rod Exit Device Installation Cost||Not Rec||$ 850||$ 4100|
The Purpose of Panic Hardware – The Cost of Liability
What is a panic bar? A panic bar is a device designed to save lives by allowing people to quickly and easily escape a building while under duress.
It should be stated unequivocally: Exit devices must be installed on doors in which local building codes require them, they must be operational, and they must have nothing added that would defeat their purpose in allowing for a quick, safe exit from the building.
Many lives have been lost and are still being lost because of either the lack of a properly functioning crash bar or by the misuse of inappropriate hardware added to them, and building codes are in place to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
Don’t let someone in your workplace potentially become one more victim of fire or workplace violence because of a choice between safety and expense. There are other hardware options if your workplace has additional needs that will not compromise the safety of the occupants of the building.
Exit device hardware was specifically designed to address safety issues which had led to the deaths of hundreds of people in building fires, like the famous Iroquois Theater Fire in 1903, in which over 600 people died, in part due to door locks being so complicated the people behind them couldn’t unlock them to escape.
The goal is to have a door so simple to operate that you could literally crash into it and be allowed out, yet also one which securely prevent access from the outside of the door. Over time, many designs that allow this feature have been developed, and the costs for replacing each type varies immensely.
If you are a business owner, and your panic bars are not functioning and not allowing free egress out of your building, you may be liable for any and all injuries that may occur as a result of an emergency.
Always, be sure to check with your local building code agency to ensure that your replacement parts meet current building codes.
How Panic Bars Work – Replacement Cost Based on Panic Bar Type
The three main types of panic bars are (in order of cost) rim devices, mortise devises, and vertical rod devices.
Exit devices tend to be specific to doors of certain constructions, so if you need to replace one, you will typically be looking for a device that operates in the same manner as the one you are seeking to replace.
In addition to the types of panic bars above, there are several styles of panic bars:
- A Touch Bar device is the most common today. They mount flush on the door, and feature a pad that when pushed will operate the latch and open the door.
- A Cross Bar device has a horizontal bar attached to mounts on either side of the door, and are operated by pressing the bar down.
- Integral devices are similar to touch bars, but these are recessed into the door frame so they don’t stick out as far.
The Cost of Rim Exit Device Panic Bars & Installation
Rim panic bars are the least expensive types. They are installed on the interior surface of outward opening doors, and latch to a strike that is surface mounted to the door frame. Since they are surface mount device these crash bars don’t require a lot of prep work to install.
These exist devices are also generally less costly than other types of exit devices. You will commonly find these in small business applications, like strip malls and fast food restaurants.
If you are skilled with tools, you may be able to handle the installation yourself for just the cost of the panic bar so long as there is no exterior trim. This is especially true if you replace the panic device with the exact one that is already installed. There are some good prices for rim panic bars on Amazon by Lawrence, but be sure to purchase at least a commercial grade 2 panic bar. If you go it alone, be sure that you are following all of your local building codes.
Since the labor cost to replace the surface mount panic bar is minimal, it may just be easier to hire a local locksmith to replace or install the panic bar. A licensed locksmith will be aware of all the building codes required.
Costs vary considerably depending on the ‘grade’ of the device (a measure of durability), the style, and the features required from the device.
The least expensive would be a basic installation of a simple crash bar with no necessity for outside access to the door. Since there is no entrance to the door, there is no exit trim needed and part and labor are minimal.
A much more expensive installation might feature a design that matches other design elements in the space (in other words, a more ‘decorative’ crash bar), one that may incorporate some exterior access trim be added to allow for access from the outside.
Regardless of these conditions, however, the overall cost to replace this type of exit device will be the least costly option, when compared to the other types.
As an example, a Grade 2 basic rim exit device, suitable for light use, exit-only applications will be around $250 USD on Amazon.
It would require about an hour of labor on a suitable door to mount. So, installed by a licensed locksmith onsite would be under $500 USD (this includes trip charge, labor, and part.) and would be suitable for most mom-and-pop, strip-mall style of businesses.
Here’s an example of a high-end Grade 1 rim exit push bar by Von Duprin. It features a stylish crossbar design, is sizable in the field to a range of door sizes, and has available exterior trim pieces that would allow for entry functions from the outside.
Its list price is around $1400 USD (that’s just the inside part – the exterior applications would add costs). But you may be able to find them for less on Amazon (depends on style). Von Duprin is a high-end company whose panic bars are built to last. Part, installation, labor, before consideration of any exterior trim would run roughly $1700 fully installed.
Mortise Exit Device Installation Cost
Mortise crash bars are a bit more expensive than rim exit devices. These are more common in large business applications and buildings. They are more secure and less prone to tampering. These panic bars incorporate a lock body housed into a pocket within the door. The exit bar is then mounted to the door, and a spindle or tailpiece engages the latch bolt.
The mortise panic bar isn’t much more complicated to replace than a rim panic bar, if the lock body is of the same size as the one being replaced, but the parts themselves are both more durable and more complicated, and so the parts will have a higher cost.
If the crash bar being replaced is of a different product than the one installed, however, there may be significantly more labor involved if further expanding the size of the mortise chamber is needed.
If you know the part number of the installed panic bar and are simply replacing it with the exact part, then you may be able to install the device. But because they are more difficult to install, it is unlikely you will find them on major vending sites. You will likely need a locksmith to purchase the part and to ensure all building codes and functionality are meant, we recommend hiring a licensed locksmith to perform the installation.
Like the rim exit devices, the costs vary based on design, function, and aesthetics, but we are starting from a higher low-end price point, and ending at a significantly higher high-end price. Applications using mortise panic bars tend to have more strict codes applied, and more functionality design options available, and the costs for these products reflects this.
The Adams Rite is an example of an affordable Grade 1 panic bar. As with the rim device shown above, this is an exit-only device, and it lists for about $650. Installed by a locksmith onsite would be about $800 USD.
The Von Duprin is an example of a high-end, fire exit device. It’s Grade 1, and meets a host of requirements for a fire exit device on a fire door. It also features things like an anti-microbial coating to prevent the spread of germs. Its list price is roughly $2200 USD. Fully installed by a licensed locksmith would be roughly $2500 USD. Additional exterior function trims would add to the cost.
There are some off-brand examples that cost less but fire safety exit bars are not a place to try skimp on off brand products. There are some fancier designs that may cost more.
The cost to have a mortise type panic bar installed, by a professional licensed locksmith, will range from $800 to $2500 depending on the desired parts.
Vertical Rod Exit Device Installation Cost
Vertical rod crash bars are used in double door applications where no central bar between the doors (called a mullion) exists.
The vertical rods allow the securing of the door to either the soffit at the top door frame or a strike in the floor, or both (the floor rod is often undesirable and omitted in some applications).
These systems can be used for one or both doors, or for just one side with the other door employing a mortise lock exit device that latches to the first door.
Vertical rod panic bars come in both surface-mount and concealed-mount styles, with the latter being more expensive and difficult to install. These will, overall, be the costliest to replace, both in the price for the parts and the labor required to replace them. However, they provide options to ensure meeting building codes that cannot be avoided in double-door applications.
It is NOT recommended that these be installed by anyone other than a professional licensed locksmith.
The Falcon product line is an example of a low-end (yet Grade 1) surface vertical rod exit-only device. It’s lists for about $500 USD, and professionally installed would come to around $850 USD before taking into consideration any exit trim if desired. The surface mount versions are available on Amazon but we again urge you to hire a professional locksmith to ensure the safety of your patronage.
And here is a high-end concealed vertical rod fire exit device by Von Duprin. It lists for about $3600 USD (that’s just the exit-only function; outside trim is more). Professionally installed is going to cost around $4100.
The cost to replace a vertical rod exit device, with professionally installation by a licensed locksmith, will range from $800 to $4100 depending on the desired parts, before considering any hardware on the exterior side of the door.
Panic bars are not normally a do it yourself type of installation. But, on the low end, the rim style surface mount panic devices can be installed by a tool savvy entrepreneur to save a bit of money. But we strongly recommend hiring a local, licensed locksmith for anything beyond and the prices shown in this article reflect the hiring of a licensed locksmith company. Variations in prices shown should be expected based on locality.
Disclosure: As an eBay / Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.
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