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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

The Pros And Cons Of Keyed Alike Padlocks

by Ralph November 3, 2021

If you are looking to be able to open several padlocks with the same key, you should know a little more about keyed alike padlocks. Though wonderfully convenient, there are potential tradeoffs to using padlocks keyed alike.

What you need to know about keyed alike padlocks boils down to:


What are keyed alike padlocks?

The term keyed alike describes multiple locks that all open with the same key. To open padlocks with the same key, they both must use the same type of key. This means two separate manufacturers cannot produce keyed alike padlocks unless they use the same lock core.

Do keyed alike padlocks have a master key?

A master key system uses keyed alike elements for the eponymous master key while still having a unique key for each lock. You can build out a master key system, so not every lock uses a different key, but not all keyed alike padlocks have a master key.

How do you have many padlocks open with the same key?

Keyed alike padlocks use identical internal components arranged in the same order. A key has to align these components within the padlock for the actuator to turn. With internals that mirror one another, one key can correspond to more than one lock.

Where can you buy Master Locks keyed alike?

Purchasing Master Locks keyed alike is made easy by many online retailers. Master Lock does not sell Master Locks keyed alike directly from their website. If you find a product you would like to purchase, they will refer you to a seller with those locks in stock.  

Can you buy keyed alike padlocks for an existing key?

To buy new keyed alike padlocks for an existing key, replace a keyed alike padlocks, or add a new keyed alike padlocks, you will need your current key code. The key code should be present in your initial purchasing information. But not all sellers provide additional locks for specific codes.

Is it possible to rekey a padlock?

You cannot rekey every padlock. For a padlock to be rekeyable, it must have a removable core or otherwise be designed for easy rekeying. Something like the Kwikset SmartKey cylinder system is built to be rekeyable without removing the core.

Tips For Buying Keyed Alike Padlocks

Before you invest in keyed alike padlocks, it is important to know what you are buying. This means evaluating the locks you think would be a good fit for your budget and needs with some general criteria. These are the features and considerations most likely to benefit you.

When you are buying keyed alike padlocks consider:

1. Security

Locks are the foundational element of physical security, but some keyed alike padlocks are sold based on convenience and neglect basic security features. You want to make sure that the keyed alike padlocks you purchase at least have shim protection and hardened steel shackles.

As long as your keyed alike padlocks use ball bearings instead of spring-loaded locking pawls, you are protected against shimming attacks. Hardened steel shackles prevent cutting from small bolt cutters. For more extensive security features, take a look at the best padlocks.

If your keyed alike padlocks can be easily shimmed or cut, they are only providing the illusion of security. You can cut corners with other security features, but these are the two I would recommend investing in at the bare minimum. For better home security or building security, you will want even sturdier locks.

2. Weather Resistance

Even when you are not looking for your keyed alike padlocks to provide any meaningful security, chances are you still don’t want to spend the time and money replacing them. To make sure your locks are not wearing down with exposure to the elements, you can invest in weather resistance.

The most tried and true form of weather resistance throughout the history of padlocks is a keyway cover. Even if your lock is using stainless steel or other non-corrosive metals, debris and dust can still clog the keyway over time.

Closing off the keyway may cause moisture to collect in the lock if there is not a drain hole on the lock body. If you do not want to make the upfront investment in keyed alike padlocks with strong weather resistance, you will have to invest on the backend with lock maintenance.

3. Future-proofing

Things happen, and locks need to be replaced. So it is beneficial to buy keyed alike padlocks that have convenient replacement options. The best replacement options include padlocks with documented key codes and rekeyable padlocks.

You can rekey locks as long as the core is removable or something like the Kwikset SmartKey system that allows for rekeying without disassembling the lock. But rekeyable or not, if you have to remove a broken padlock, it will need to be replaced.

You can also plan for the eventuality of replacement by getting more keyed alike padlocks than you initially need. Buying in bulk allows for the quickest hassle-free replacement. Other than that, you will need to prepare to key future locks or to buy products with the correct key code.

Pros Of Keyed Alike Padlocks

There are countless reasons you may benefit from keyed alike padlocks, but we are going to highlight what customers find most helpful about these products. To get the most out of opening padlocks with the same key, make sure you can benefit from the following perks.

The general perks of being able to open padlocks with same key are:

1. Convenience

With keyed alike padlocks, there is no more fiddling with overstuffed key rings. The key you use to open one padlock will open all keyed alike padlocks. This streamlined entry increases efficiency in large facilities and is ideal for campus and warehouse security.

Residential properties can still benefit from opening several padlocks with the same key just as they do with keyed alike door locks. If finding the right key is always a hassle, chances are you will leave the lock open. Trouble-free opening induces stricter usage.

Opening multiple padlocks with the same key, although convenient, does sacrifice a bit of security. In the security field, the main trade-off is often between security and convenience. But this can be reduced by investing in better padlocks, so they all have the same high security.

2. Simplicity

Keyed alike padlocks are straightforward along almost every metric. For example, there is no complex key control, where you have to worry if someone has all the keys they need. When you can open padlocks with the same key, then having that one key means having full access.

It is also simple to diagnose and anticipate complications with the locks or keys. If one padlock won’t open, the rest of the locks will likely have the same problem eventually. If all keyed alike padlock break at the same time, this is a good indication of a key issue.

When things are alike, the experience with one is similar to the experience with the other. That means once you have a method for replacing, fixing, or performing maintenance on your locks, it will apply to all keyed alike padlocks for the duration of their use.

3. Bulk Prices

Everything is more expensive when you do it piecemeal. With keyed alike padlocks, most if not all actions are bulk actions. The initial investment in a group of keyed alike padlocks is more expensive than buying a single padlock but less expensive than buying multiple locks separately.

Even the cost to rekey a lock can be offset by bulk purchasing. This is especially true if you intend on rekeying the padlocks yourself, as you can buy sets of replacement pins and tools that you will use over and over. The more use something gets, the more it pays for itself.

If you already need a set number of padlocks, and would benefit from the simplicity and convenience of opening padlocks with the same key, you can save money on your security. Bulk prices do not offset the cons of keyed alike padlocks, but it is worth noting it as a positive.

Cons Of Keyed Alike Padlocks

Opening several padlocks with the same key has some potential drawbacks. These disadvantages can be curbed by your intended use, but these may also be the reasons they are not right for you. In any case, it is good to be aware of the potentially negative side of keyed alike padlocks.

Opening several padlocks with same key can create issues with:

1. Access Control

Physical access control is how to prevent certain parties from accessing specific areas while still providing them general access to a property. Keyed alike padlocks can diminish this access control by not allowing you to differentiate between who can open which padlock.

You can get around the issue of access control by using a master key system. This way, only the holder of the master key will experience them as keyed alike padlocks. Access for everyone without master keys will only open certain locks and not all padlocks in the system.

In residential settings where you are giving workers temporary or limited access to your property, you may want different padlocks for gate security than what is on your garage, shed, or package deposit. Different workers include construction crews, gardeners, pool cleaners, etc.

2. Diversification 

Say you invest in several Master Locks keyed alike. Most Master Locks are not extremely secure, but some provide next to no security. With that being your only type of lock, not only can each lock be easily defeated, once a criminal finds a method of entry that works, it will open every lock.

If you are building out your perimeter security, you may need different locks to fit certain hasps and locations. Certain areas may require more security than others, so justifying the more expensive lock in one case does not necessarily mean it is worth it to buy five of that lock.

The need for diversity in your security potentially restricts the number of padlocks you can have open with a single key. You can get around this by using a range of locks that all have removable cores. As long as the same core can fit in each, they can be keyed alike.

3. Replacement 

If you ever want to upgrade your security or change the type of padlocks you are using, you will be replacing a lot at once. The darker side of having to purchase in bulk means you may also need to replace in bulk rather than spread out replacement costs over time.

Whether you are rekeying or replacing locks, whatever you do to one padlock, you have to do to all the others you want keyed the same. When you want to open padlocks with the same key, you have to accept that what is done to one largely has to be done to them all.

By taking weatherproofing and future-proofing into account, you can mitigate the need for replacement. But if you do not invest in locks that are built to last, replacement can become unwieldy. Factor in your replacement strategy before investing in keyed alike padlocks.

In Closing

Padlocks keyed alike should ideally be secure, weather-resistant, and easy to replace. These products offer convenience, simplicity, and can be purchased in bulk to save money. Using the same lock can limit the amount of differentiated access and diversity of your security.

If you need help minimizing the costs of replacing, rekeying, or fixing several keyed alike padlocks, reach out to a local locksmith. For the best service, see if United Locksmith is in your area. And if you have any questions or thoughts, leave them in the comments below.

Category: Commercial, Residential, Safety & Security

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