How To Choose the Lock That Best Complements Your Security
Finding the right lock for your building can be pretty daunting. It can also be very easy to overlook. The most important part of this selection process is paying attention to your needs. What risks are you trying to mitigate? What other parts of your security will the new lock need to interact with? And what do you need from your lock? Once you understand the functions you are looking for, and how the lock will need to interact with your other devices, you can make the best choice.
Assessing Your Needs
The biggest consideration that you need to make your lock selection is, figuring out what the existing weaknesses are for your building’s security. The best complimenting safety features are those that address a vulnerability. In a case where you have a window right next to your door, there is the risk of a person breaking the window and reaching in to open the lock. The best countermeasure to this type of threat is to use a double-sided deadbolt. The issue is solved because the criminal would still need the key to open the lock even when they access the other side of the door.
If you live in an area where you are not under any real threat of theft, the biggest concern for you may be convenience. You may want a lock that can be opened without using a key. Smart locks such as the August and Schlage Sense offer this exact type of convenience. In the case of the August, you will only be replacing the thumbturn on the back of your lock, so if you are happy with your existing lock, and just want to simplify your life, this is a product you could use. If you are looking for a complete lock, then the Schlage Sense is the best smart lock in terms of the physical lock construction, and it still has all of the standard smart lock features.
One of the biggest concerns, when you are getting a lock, is that it will not work with everything you already have installed. This could be as simple as the lock being smaller or larger than the holes in your door, or as severe as smart products being incompatible. Always do your research and find out exactly what you need. For example, the Schlage Sense Smart Lock uses Z-Wave technology. It needs a hub in order to get its full range of functionality. Without a bridge, the lock is not able to communicate with a smartphone, which decreases the ability of the product.
When it comes to the physical construction of a lock, there are also some concerns. For example, if you want to place an August Smart lock on your door, you need a deadbolt, and it needs to have a thumbturn. This lock is very particular on its prerequisites. You are not going to be able to use it on many mortise locks and euro cylinder profiles. Those locks, for the most part, do not have the hardware an August smart lock requires.
The main considerations with key control are how easy it is to give and revoke access to the lock. When it comes to locks, it is a huge deal who has a key. Those trusted with a key can potentially lose it or hand it out to others who you have not trusted with access. When it comes to employees, access control is a large concern. Individuals can become disgruntled after termination or can simply end up places they don’t belong by mistake. In terms of access control, electronic locks give you the greatest convenience in tracking and managing keys.
Codes, biometric readings, RFID signaling devices, etc. can be removed and programmed into a system with relative ease, but they also offer a greater level of protection. These access tokens are significantly harder to fake and duplicate. A physical key can be copied at almost any hardware store, regardless of “DO NOT DUPLICATE” markings. An electronic key requires knowledge, time, and access to equipment that is not readily available in order to make copies.
If you want records of lock usage, and up to the minute updates, then this limits the locks you can use. You will not be able to get this information from a standard mechanical lock. There will need to be an electronic interface that can send these messages, and it will need to be able to communicate this information to another device. If you already have other remotely monitored methods of security, this may not be a concern. Monitored alarms, surveillance cameras, etc. should serve as adequate means of access documentation.
Integration with your smartphone is often the most important concern for remote monitoring. This gives the user full-time unlimited access to updates from their security. In the case of smart locks, you will need a Wi-Fi bridge, such as a Honeywell alarm system, in order to receive real-time updates and alerts. Products like the August Smart Lock require additional products to utilize this feature, whereas your Z-Wave bridge for the Schlage sense should take care of the Wi-Fi issue organically.
Once you understand exactly what your security is giving you, you can better comprehend what you need. But understanding the various threats and vulnerabilities that your building faces is not enough. You also need to research the security products available to you. There is not a guarantee that they will work with the security foundation you built. Know exactly what you need before you buy. Once you have chosen your lock, remember that a lock is only as good as the person who installed it. For the best possible results contact a local locksmith so that you do not compromise a promising lock. Do what is best for your security, and take the time to find the right lock.
Ralph Goodman is a professional writer and the resident expert on locks and security over at the Lock Blog. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about keys, locks and safety. They offer tips, advice and how-to’s for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.