Keyless Entry Lock Sets – Expert advice from Bob Vila, the most trusted name in home improvement, home improvement, home repair and DIY. Experienced, real and reliable home advice
Solved! What is a keyless door lock, and is it a safe option for the home? Keyless entry locks are becoming more and more common as integration with smart home devices expands, and they can become a great option for busy families.
Keyless Entry Lock Sets
Q: Our family regularly locks us out of our house. It’s funny at first, and then just uncomfortable and annoying. We considered installing a keyless door lock for this and other convenience reasons, but is this a safe and secure option?
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A: Most people have experienced, at one point or another, the sinking feeling of hearing a door close just as they realize their keys are on the other side. If you have a traditional door lock, re-entry may mean calling a locksmith, hoping to find the stash buried in your yard or smashing your window. Keyless door locks used to be a luxury, expensive and required professional installation and wiring. As home technology has advanced and smart homes have become more common, keyless door locks have followed suit, with options that are easy for homeowners to install and integrate with smart devices. A keyless lock means you can get home in moments using a keypad code, fingerprint or a quick swipe on your phone.
But are they safe? Or are they more secure than traditional locks? The answer is that they can be. If a keyless lock means you’re more likely to open the doors every time you leave, less likely to hide a key under the doormat, or carry tons of extra keys to share that you’ll eventually lose, then they can be safer. However, traditional front door locks offer several options for modifications that add more security, and keyless locks have some weaknesses in their reliance on technology. Depending on your habits and needs, they can be a great option.
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Keyless door locks do not require a physical key like traditional door locks. They can be opened in different ways, depending on the brand and model.
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A keyless lock can lighten your load – literally. The fat ring of keys weighing on your pocket can be reduced because keyless locks require no key at all.
Keypad locks have an integrated 10-digit backlit keypad where the homeowner enters a code to unlock the door. They are simple, easy to program and easy to use – as long as you change the code often so the keys don’t get lost, and as long as you choose codes you can remember. Any pretense of security is lost when you choose an easy-to-guess code such as your birthday, house number or phone number. However, with a secure code, keypad locks offer many advantages. Users can share the code with children and family members, so there are no keys to track. Many key locks can be programmed so that temporary codes can be given to repair professionals, dog walkers and babysitters, and some locks can limit the window of time each code will work. There’s nothing extra to carry around or lose, and since most keyboard locks are battery operated, they always work (as long as you change the batteries on schedule).
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Fingerprint locks combine the keyboard lock with another technology: a fingerprint reader. Similar to the fingerprint security pad on many cell phones, the fingerprint lock features a small touch pad that reads your fingerprint and opens the door if the fingerprint is registered to the lock’s technology. The fingerprint scanner is paired with the keyboard as a backup and to allow the homeowner to share a code with others whose fingerprints they don’t want in the system. Some locks now use a facial recognition scanner instead of a similar keyboard-backed fingerprint reader.
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Bluetooth-enabled door locks use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology to unlock the door using a compatible remote or app. Ideal when your hands are full, there is no need to lock the steps or handle them in any way: the remote will open the door when you reach for it deep in your pocket, purse or bag. These locks can usually be opened from an app as well, as common Bluetooth technology pairs the remote control with the lock and the lock with the home’s Wi-Fi system, allowing control from anywhere via an app and giving you full control over who comes to your home. At home, even when you’re not there. Bluetooth locks have some issues in terms of connectivity and potential for hacking, but these challenges can be overcome with careful security practices.
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Depending on the type of keyless door lock, the ability to enter your home may be affected by power outages.
This is probably the most obvious weakness of some keyless locks. While some are battery operated, any lock that needs to be connected to a power source or the internet is at risk if there is a power outage. A battery backup can power the lock itself, but Bluetooth locks require a connection to the home’s Wi-Fi system, so if the router loses power, the door lock can get stuck whenever the power goes out. Most can be manually opened from the inside if someone is inside, but some lock in place until power is restored, which is both a safety hazard and a problem getting in or out of your home.
What’s So Smart About Smart Locks?
Battery operated locks and battery backups can stop this problem – sometimes. Like many things that aren’t used often, it’s easy to forget to replace the backup batteries often. If this is the case in your home, look for a lock that has an indicator light or sends an alert when the backup batteries are low, or schedule replacements in your calendar so you’re not locked out if there’s a power outage.
Almost every keyless lock on the market also includes a manual backup hole, but if your reason for choosing a keyless lock in the first place was to avoid an extra key, it’s important to be realistic about how likely you are to have the backup key with you when you need it.
Early criticism of keyless locks stems from the fact that they were only available for knob or latch locks, as the early versions were not strong enough to open or close a bolt. As a result, homeowners must add a separate key lock to their doors to properly secure their homes, negating the convenience factor of a keyless lock.
Fortunately, this is no longer the case. Keyless locks are available in a wide variety of configurations: handle locks, handle sets with coordinated deadbolts, deadbolt inserts, and full panel locks that look elegant even on traditional doors. Additionally, keyless locks retrofit your existing deadbolt by attaching a controller box over the existing switch, so if you want to keep your existing handle for aesthetic reasons, you can add a keyless feature.
Electronic Door Locks
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Tech keyless locks must be difficult and expensive to install, right? No! All you need to install one of these locks yourself are a few basic tools. The instructions will walk you through the process of removing the old lock set, making all the necessary adjustments and installing the new keyless lock in its place. If you are not comfortable doing the installation yourself, a handyman (or a handy neighbor) can help you; The installation is fast, and there is no need to hire a locksmith.
If you choose a lock that connects via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, there is a small technological obstacle, because the lock must be connected to the home network, download the appropriate mobile application, create an account and log in to set the codes or register fingerprints or faces. Programmable locks require some setup. But the locks come with excellent instructions and links to helpful online videos, and most have customer service lines where representatives are waiting in line if you have problems.
It seems that almost every aspect of the home can now be automated and programmed using smart home devices. Lighting, temperature and HVAC, TVs, ovens and washing machines, alarm systems – even light bulbs can be controlled with a few swipes on your phone or tablet or a quick word with a smart home assistant. Keyless locks are no exception. Integration with a
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