People have been using door locks for over 4,000 years, but the history of locks has dramatically changed in the past five years with the advent of modern keyless locks. If you have not used a keyless lock in the past, or are considering a smart lock upgrade, it pays to know what to expect as well as the latest choices. Once you have all of the information, you can make the best decision for keeping your home, condo, business, AirBnB rental or commercial rental safe.
A Brief History of Locks
When the ancient Egyptians created locks for doors over four millennia ago, they made a simple pin tumbler lock from wood with a “key” made of pegs. Like modern doors, these ancient Egyptian locks worked with a bolt that slides horizontally into a post on the other side of the door. When the right combination of pegs were placed into holes in the bolt, the door unlocked. Around the time of the Romans in the 1st Century, metal was used to create locks similar to modern padlocks, and metal keys were also widely used. For the next 2,000 years, locks did not evolve much, but the keyhole was often designed to be concealed. In the 1960’s this all dramatically changed, and deviations from the traditional door locks were invented.
Basic Lock Types Until the 1960’s
Keyed-in door locks or keyed-in latch and bolt locks are the old-fashioned mechanical locks still on the market today. The types associated with these door locks are rim, cross bore and mortise. While these might not be the best choices for a front door, they still have a great deal of function for classroom doors, closet doors and storage closets. Regardless, for legal reasons, the keyless door lock is being used for all doors within certain places of business such as schools, hospitals and any office that handles client information protected by privacy acts.
Keyless Locks: New Keys, Similar Mechanisms
When you are shopping for keyless locks, you will see that they are still available in rim, mortise and cross bore even though they do not have keys. The reason for this is that keyless locks still use the same mechanisms to secure the door, but the way the lock is turned is with the keyless lock activation device. For example, a deadbolt will still be in place, but it will no longer use a key to open or close it. Despite this, there are more than the pin and tumbler systems for locking a door with keyless access.
Types of Keyless Locks and How They Work
When you use a keyless door lock, it might involve the traditional pin and tumbler system, but it uses a push-button lock to grant access. In addition to the type that uses the old-fashioned pin and tumbler, there is the electronic cipher lock, the keycard, fingerprint locks, and the FOB. No matter which type of door lock it is, it can be fitted with mortise, rim and cross-bore parts.
Can My Old Door Take on a New Keyless Lock?
Almost all mechanical key locks can be retrofitted to take a keyless door lock. This means no major drilling or modification is needed for the door to install this lock type. For this reason, antique doors or custom-doors will be safe when the keyless lock is installed. The exceptions to this rule are heavy-duty doors found in commercial or industrial spaces. In these cases, a few extra holes will be drilled to accommodate fastening the new keyless lock to the door.
Benefits of Keyless Locks
When most homeowners or property owners are getting keyless locks, it is due to the convenience of not having to physically use a key. This type of system is also especially helpful if multiple employees need to open a door that is rarely used. It is also beneficial to not need to have the door re-keyed periodically for security reasons because you can inexpensively change the code instead. Despite this, there are several other trending reasons that property owners are making the switch to keyless locks.
Smart Locks: the Top Trend in Entryway Security
When it comes to the latest in keyless locks, the main trending technology is the smarthome smart lock. These locks can be controlled by an app on a smartphone using Bluetooth and they are extremely popular compared to other keyless lock models. Smart locks might also be advertised as having RFID or security tokens as a feature. In short, this means that, in addition to unlocking a door with a smartphone, additional “keys” can be assigned that are not smartphone-based. Security tokens and RFID mean that a card is waved in front of the device to unlock the door.
For homeowners, security tokens and RFID cards are important for children to use as keys instead of smartphones. This also gives you a chance to give a “key” to other immediate family members that may need to visit your home when you are not present. Added features to the smart lock system include having the lock recognize your phone is approaching and automatically unlocking. Others will send you a text any time someone accesses the door.
Why Biometric Keypads are Business Standards
Another popular lock is the biometric keypad that opens when a fingerprint or the retina of the eye is scanned. One reason they are becoming more popular is due to the fact they are now only about $100 more expensive than other keyless door models. Fingerprint locks are also extremely helpful for legal reasons, and they are becoming standards where narcotics-based pharmaceuticals are stored. Biometric keypad locks are also becoming increasingly popular for internal doors in legal offices where files are stored.
Keyless Door Accessories or Add-ons
Along with RFID or security token cards, a key fob or proximity lock can be a part of your new keyless locks. This is similar to the key fob that is used to automatically open a locked door in a vehicle. Another add-on for a keyless lock is the surveillance feature that takes a picture of whomever unlocks the door. Upgrading to a keyless locking door is an ideal time to increase safety in other ways such as having a professional security system installed.
What If the Battery Dies in the Smart Lock or Keyless Lock?
If you are using the keyless lock for business purposes or with children involved, there needs to be a backup in case the battery fails. Although having the battery changed once every couple of years is all that is required for most models, these locks are still able to be accessed. For example, inside of the house, no one can get locked in because there is a manual lock on the other side of the keyless lock. From the outside of the keyless lock, a professional locksmith can change the battery. Thankfully, most locksmiths have mobile stores in their vans to service locks as well as 24-hour on-site services.
Best Uses for Keyless Locks
In the past, showing a rental property meant that an employee had to show up at the unit just to unlock the doors. On top of this, it was difficult for some potential renters to find the property and arrive on time. Instead of hiring extra labor to show the property or having a lockbox in plain sight that can get burglarized, having a keyless system is the best choice for realtors. In addition, rental properties like AirBnB are easier to manage if keys do not need to be exchanged in person. This also prevents keys from being copied by previous occupants of a rental property to use for unauthorized purposes.
Other Reasons Keyless Locks Work for Rental Properties
No matter which reasons you choose to rent a property, all that is required to change the door lock code is using simple instructions or an app on your smartphone, and your door lock security issues are over. You can also change the codes as often as you like throughout the day, and some allow you to program the codes to expire within a short period of time. Another feature helpful for forgetful renters is having doors that are set to automatically lock after they are opened or closed.
Forget Waking up Early for Friends or Business Deliveries
When people are excited about a keyless door code that they can easily give out to someone, it could be because they do not need to be present to open the door. This is especially significant to business owners that need to show up once or twice a week to open a door for a special delivery. Instead of getting less sleep because you need to meet the delivery van at 4 a.m., giving the driver the door code is a better solution. Speaking of 4 a.m. – if you have a friend that frequently wakes you up because they partied too much and need a place to stay to avoid driving, a keyless door code could be a lifesaver.
Do Keyless Locks Actually Increase Safety?
One of the biggest unanswered questions is whether or not the lock itself will deter criminals. Unfortunately, burglars are going to look for the path of least resistance, and your lock is always an unlikely candidate. For example, if your front door is hollow or has easy-to-break glass, the thief will likely choose these options over picking a keyless lock. In other words, the quality of your lock and the integrity of your door are two separate issues. Fortunately, getting advice on improving the security of your current door is easy when you have professional technicians on your side.
On the other hand, keyless locks on any door will certainly increase security in other ways, especially when they are employed in conjunction with other security features. For instance, many systems take pictures of the person operating the door or attempting to punch in a code. These photos can be automatically sent to an app within seconds. This information can then be sent to security guards or the police. Along with a silent alarm system, warning sounds can be employed to deter a break-in.