Should you get a keyless entry door lock instead of a basic deadbolt that opens with a key?
There are some really neat features that keyless door locks can have which can increase security. But they can also be less secure than an ordinary lock.
It depends on which keyless lock you have, as their are obvious differences in quality between highly rated and poorly rated models.
To answer your question if keyless door locks are safe, let’s take a look at the most important pros and cons first and then make a reasonable verdict.
1. Having multiple unique entry codes
If you have a well populated household, a maid, babysitter or a business with multiple employees, having the ability to use multiple entry codes can be very valuable. It can also be valuable for an apartment complex and buildings that require maximum security.
That’s because you can provide each person with their own unique entry code. When they enter or exit the place by inserting their code (the only one that they know), the date and the number of the code that was used will be registered.
This is a good way to increase your home or business security, because in order for someone to enter the door, they’ll need to use one of these codes. If a malevolent intruder inserts one of the unique codes to get inside, you can trace back how they got the code and eventually figure out their identity.
Perhaps the intruder stole your maid’s smartphone and found the entry code. Or perhaps the maid used the code to break in and steal your jewelry while you were away, without knowing that she had a unique code.
Either way, you’ll be able to narrow down the break-in much more than you’d be able to do if someone just used a stolen key to break in.
2. Not having to use keys
This benefit is pretty self-explanatory. Keys can get easily lost or stolen. An entry code? Not really. Unless you’ve literally wrote on a piece of paper or on your phone “this is the entry code to my home”. If you memorized the code or just wrote the numbers without mentioning what they are it’s definitely way safer.
There’s also the benefit of convenience. Not having to search for keys or check if they’re still in your pocket or purse is an easy way to reduce a common stress factor.
3. Advanced locking options
More advanced keypad locks provide various locking features. For example, you can lock the door within a designated time frame permanently, so that even if someone uses the code, it won’t unlock.
If you’re going away on holidays and want to make sure that your front door will be as secure as possible, you can use this or similar feature to prevent any unlocking attempts by crafty intruders.
4. Facial recognition and fingerprint recognition
Keyless locks don’t have to be based on numerical entry codes. Facial recognition and fingerprints can also be part of the system.
Of course, these types of keyless locks typically cost more and you should definitely not go cheap on this one because the scanner should be reliable.
Otherwise you could find yourself locked outside for no fault of your own (except for buying a fancy but unreliable lock).
5. Easier to use in case of injury
People who have problems with their fingers or hands, whether that’s a physical deformation or loss of strength, will find a keyless lock much easier to use. Since it doesn’t require virtually any physical strength.
In case of a keypad lock, a straw-like object can be used to enter a code even without having to use your hands.
1. Used buttons can reveal the code
Just as dirt and debris can accumulate on a mouse and keyboard from regular use, the same can happen on a keypad lock. This accumulation can reveal which buttons are being used in order to crack the code more easily.
This is obviously not a problem if many people are using the same lock with different codes. But if only one person is using it, cleaning the buttons from time to time is a good way to prevent this risk.
Overused buttons can also get damaged and change appearance more permanently, providing the same risk of recognizable code patterns. But it’s not the end of the world. Because in that case you can simply delete the old code and insert a new code that uses a few of the other buttons.
2. Power failure could unlock it
In case of digital door locks, power failure may prevent it from working. It really depends on the type of lock you have.
Many digital locks have a backup battery which allows it to function in case there’s no source of electricity available. If you have a backup power generator that turns on automatically, this will also not be a problem.
Having said that, most digital locks that don’t have any backup option will stay locked even in case of a power failure, but you won’t be able to use them during that time.
So overall, my advice is make sure you have one of these backup options available to be on the safe side. Otherwise a burglar could perhaps cut a cable and let themselves inside unnoticed.
3. Only trustworthy people should have the entry code
The entry code is somewhat safer than using regular keys. The main problem however is that a crafty intruder could set up a camera to monitor a keypad lock and see the codes that are being entered. Or they could stand fairly close and observe it for themselves.
Unfortunately many people are not aware of their environment or they’re too afraid to tell others to bug off in these situations. This is especially true when it comes to building entrances where there is a lot of foot traffic. My advice is to have a security camera monitoring the area so that any strange activities of this kind get recorded.
There is of course the chance of an employee or member of household writing the code somewhere and an intruder recognizing it for what it is. Or they could simply share it with someone. This is why it’s important that everyone has their own unique code so you can track back the point where things took a turn for the worse. Nevertheless, these are two important security concerns to reflect on.
4. Entry codes get forgotten and lost
While entering a PIN is easier than searching for keys day-in, day-out, it may take more brain power than some can afford. If the codes are too long, they’ll probably have to be written down. Which makes searching for the code every time a hassle by itself.
Furthermore, the numbers could get lost and then the code would have to be restarted for that person. But if you make the code too short, it’s easier to crack. I generally recommend using 4-6 digit codes. They’re pretty strong and fairly easy to remember after a few days of usage.
Final Word: Are Keyless Door Locks Safe?
Keyless door locks can be very safe, if they’re installed properly, everyone uses a different entry code and the users make sure that no one is watching them as they enter the code. Digital door locks should also have a backup power such as a battery in case of a power failure.
However, keyless door locks that are vulnerable to power failures and don’t provide the feature of multiple entry codes shouldn’t be used. At least not if multiple people will be using the lock, because in that case they’re as safe as any regular lock, perhaps even less.
If you want extra safety and to avoid any tricks, get a keyless lock that uses a facial or fingerprint recognition scanner. These are more expensive but the coolness factor and extra security surely make up for it. Hope this helps!