A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.
Posted On by Ralph
Before you install a keypad door lock, it is important to understand what you are getting and what you are potentially giving up. There are pros and cons to many security measures but keypad door locks also have some of the issues you run into with new technology and electronics.
This is not to say that keypad door locks are a new technology. United locksmith has installed and changed keypad door locks for decades, but the issue with electronics is they are always evolving. So where are we in the evolution of keypad door locks? How good are these locks? How bad are they? Let’s take a look at what we know.
The reasons to install a keypad door lock include:
The reasons NOT to install a keypad door lock consist of:
Most residential keypad door locks follow the same basic tenants of lock installation, with a starting price of $35 if the lock is being changed and $65 if you have a fresh new door that needs to be cut/prepped. If you need to install a keypad door lock with a motorized bolt actuator, this may be more expensive because of how the tolerances affect the motor. Programming and additional services may be required and will affect the cost of calling a locksmith.
In most cases, residential keypad door locks will have rather straightforward instructions that come with the product. If the lock is hardwired into a power source, you will likely need some assistance. If you want to change locks on your apartment or rented house, ask the landlord first. Building managers may request professional service for lock changes to assure the security of the property.
The process of changing the code on a keypad lock will vary depending on the product, but there are similarities between locks. Mechanical locks commonly need to be disassembled so the coded tumblers can be reorientated for a new code. Most digital keypad locks have programming code separate from the various opening codes, which allows codes to be updated.
Keypad door locks have the risk of the code being discovered or passed along without your knowledge. An overly observant or interested stranger can potentially decode your lock by watching it be opened. But beyond targeted attacks, opportunistic criminals will often be able to decode low-security mechanical keypad door locks.
Mechanical keypad locks do not use any electricity. Most electronic keypad door locks use batteries for user convenience. A battery-operated door lock is exceedingly easier to install than something that needs to be hardwired into a grid-based power supply. Front door lock replacement that requires an electrician is extremely uncommon. If you are buying a lock from Home Depot or a similar big box store, it likely uses batteries.
If you want to install a keypad door lock, you need to choose whether or not the device will be electronic or use a manual mechanical keypad. Electronic locks utilize an energy source, whereas mechanical keypad door locks are energy independent, functioning much like a traditional door lock.
The pros and cons vary depending on whether the lock is digital or analog, with the main difference being that the electronics offer convenience and the mechanical offer durability. If you want to make a lock work with multiple codes and easily reprogram the device, electronic locks are best. If you want a lock that will continue to work under harsh weather and repetitive use, install a keypad door lock that is mechanical.
If you install a keypad door lock with electronic functionality, you are likely to run into the issue that caused cell phone manufacturers to move toward touchscreen technology. That is to say, the buttons on electronics tend to wear out or lose their connections. Install a keypad door lock that is purely mechanical, and the device will last longer for the same reason a mechanical watch lasts so long.
With the modern technology of electronic locks, you will not have to worry about disassembling and re-installing the keypad door lock every time the code is changed. Changing codes is simple, and it is even possible to make multiple codes work on the same lock. This same convenience is not available when you install a keypad door lock with purely mechanical components.
Most keypad door lock installations are going to be relatively straightforward. However, there are a few difficulties you may encounter. If you are trying to install a keypad door lock on a residential home, you are likely using a product that is intended to have user-friendly installation. Just be on the lookout for any motor-operated actuators.
Some smart locks will have keypads, but no handle/knob. They rely instead on a motorized actuator to move the bolt after the proper code is input. They are easy to install improperly so the motor wears out or is not strong enough to throw or retract the bolt. When you install a keypad door lock with motorized actuators, beware of the bolt alignment and how tight the tolerances are.
The door may be misaligned so the metal of the bolt is grinding or missing the strike hole entirely. The door may not fit the lock, handles may need to be rotated, or trouble programming a new code are common issues. You can always turn to a residential locksmith to install your keypad door lock if you run into any troubles.
Other than the residential concerns when you install a keypad door lock, this may be part of a commercial door lock replacement. Commercial keypad door lock installation is likely to be a bit more complicated because these devices often are hardwired into a power supply instead of using batteries. Even with mechanical commercial keypad locks, you may need a commercial locksmith due to the complexity of re-coding.
There are many reasons it may behoove you to install a keypad door lock. These positive qualities should be available in the best keypad door locks, but may not be present in every single keypad door lock. How much you get out of these positive attributes will also depend on the style of keypad door lock you choose (electronic or mechanical).
When a property is constantly changing which service technicians need access to a specific area or the tenants, you want to avoid the hassle of always rekeying or replacing locks. When you install keypad door locks, you allow for easier access changes without the need for new keys, new locks, or new pins. Everything you need to change access is within the lock.
Along with changing who has access, you can also easily make multiple locks work with the same code. Unlike rekeying several locks to work with a single key, keypad door locks do not need to be the same brand to use the same code. Once you become familiar with changing these codes the process will become quick and easy.
If you are using several mechanical locks, you may wish to hire a locksmith to handle the code change due to the required disassembly and reassembly of each lock. Often this service will fall into the price to rekey a lock but may lean toward the higher end of the price range depending on the lock.
Cutting new keys, passing out keys, and storing keys all create their own problems. Besides the time it takes to deal with keys, you also have to worry about lost keys, broken keys, and getting keys back once you need to change access. Install a keypad door lock and you don’t have to worry about keys anymore.
Each key you put out into the world creates the opportunity for a duplicate to be made. Even with “DO NOT DUPLICATE” stamped on the key, a self-serve key machine has no way to enforce the order. Not a concern when you install a keypad door lock. Every time access is revoked just change the code and move on.
Having no key does have the potential to make a property more secure. If you are looking for unpickable locks, there is nothing more unpickable than a lock with no keyway. Of course, there may be other security concerns for your particular lock, but you will not have to worry about locking picking as an exploit.
Besides changing access with less of a headache, installing keypad door locks can allow you to easily structure an access hierarchy similar to what you would have with a master key system. This will be dependent on whether you install a keypad door lock that can use multiple codes simultaneously.
Similar to a master key system, the more codes there are for a door, the less secure that door is. There is not really a risk of someone brute-forcing the combination (trying every possible combination), but you will have to worry about the number of people who have access to a given door. But with access control, you can limit the number of code holders for sensitive areas.
If you install keypad door locks that cannot use simultaneous codes, you can still use your locks to improve your access control. One code can be made to open all the perimeter keypad door locks, whereas interior locks use a separate code. Instead of everyone having to remember one code, some people will have to learn several codes.
Before you install a keypad door lock there are some shortcomings you need to be aware of. If you have already installed keypad door locks, still consider these potential issues before they confront you more plainly. If you find any of these points destressing, it may be best to uninstall your keypad door lock and use a standard front door lock.
Even the best electronic door locks are by their very nature, energy-dependent. That means they lose functionality when their power supply is interrupted. This interruption could come in the form of batteries dying or the power going out – in the case of a lock hardwired into a power source.
Whether the lock opens or stays locked when power is lost will depend on whether it is fail-safe or fail-safe. This is a common dichotomy among fire doors and emergency exits, but most keypad door locks will be fail-secure. This means they cannot be opened without an electrical current (unless there is a redundant keyed cylinder).
How concerned should you be that you installed a keypad door lock that will not open from the outside without power? It depends on whether or not there is a key override and whether or not most people with the access code also have a key. When there is no keyed cylinder or no one is issued a key for the existing cylinder, this may result in the need for lockout services.
A key cannot travel as fast as a code. You can’t send a key in a text message. The point is that once someone compromises access to a keypad door lock it can get out of hand very quickly. Though the access can indeed be changed very quickly, the compromise may not be apparent until after it is exploited.
No key means no worrying about who still has access by way of unauthorized duplicates, but once someone knows the code, they have a key until that code is changed. There is no way to tell if your lock has been picked if someone is opening the door with the correct key or code.
Other than the risk of the code being exposed, if you install a keypad door lock that is mechanical, there are potentially ways to decode it. Decoding methods will vary depending on the product, but if you install a keypad door lock that has particularly low security, no tools are required to find the combination. Some of these locks can be decoded by touch very easily.
The more moving parts, the greater the chance for one of them breaking. As we already mentioned if you install a keypad door lock that is electronic it will be less hardy than a mechanical lock. This is because the electronic lock is using two separate systems that can each break in a way that renders the other just as useless.
Each time a code is input, the lock is wearing down. This can happen very quickly or very slowly depending on how well made the keypad door lock is. A commercial-grade lock will use sturdier construction to increase the lifespan of the device because they are designed for many people to open and close repeatedly on a daily basis.
When you install a keypad door lock, you have to think about service. Is this a lock that you can fix when it begins to wear out, or is this a lock that you will have to replace? Because the price point of keypad door locks is much higher than standard door locks, this cannot be ignored. This is a bigger issue with electronic locks, as they suffer the risk of quickly becoming outdated.
Should you install a keypad door lock? The recommendation comes down to whether or not you will gain more than you risk. Weigh the positive attributes of installing a keypad door lock with the potential tradeoffs. You can also buy products that offset the negative issues with keypad door lock installation and maximize the positive qualities. If you need any recommendations or help to install a keypad door lock, be sure to give United Locksmith a call.