Whether you’re looking to equip a gym, school or a police station with lockers, you need to secure them with good locks. And if you’re just a regular person using a locker in a facility, you may wish to bring your own lock to feel more secure about leaving your possessions unattended.
In this article you’ll discover the best locks regardless of the situation, along with affiliate links to Amazon for some of our top choices.
1. Keyed Padlock
The padlock is the most basic lock you can use for a locker. A padlock features a sturdy steel or metal material that houses a mechanism that keeps the locker closed until someone opens it with a corresponding key. It does not require any combinations or other extensive pieces of technology.
A padlock works with a few cylinders that line up with the grooves on an accompanying key. The key someone inserts must match up with the cylinders to allow the padlock to open. The user can then close the padlock by pushing back down on the material on the top.
The key point on the padlock will appear on the bottom part of the lock. The key should be small enough to enter the lock without breaking apart.
For the gym and when travelling I frequently use this heavy duty Master keyed padlock. It’s got laminated steel body that is 50% harder than hardened steel. The shackle is octagonal and 8 mm in diameter. As for the lock itself, it features a 4-pin cylinder and dual ball bearing, so it’s more resistant to picking or prying. Although, you should know that a skilled thief is able to pick just about any lock. But hey, let’s make it more difficult for them, shall we?
- Padlocks are small and easy to transport or carry.
- A padlock could last for five to ten years on average when you maintain it well.
- Padlocks don’t cost as much as other materials. You could order many padlocks for every locker in your business.
- You don’t have to install anything on a locker to get a padlock ready. You could link the padlock over an opening on the locker.
- Each padlock is paired with a distinct key, making it where the user must use the proper key to open the padlock.
- The user is responsible for lost or stolen keys for the padlock, meaning a business or another entity that houses a locker won’t be as liable for any issues.
- You can order replacement keys from a local locksmith.
- Any business that houses lockers with padlocks will require bolt cutters or an override key for cases where the padlock cannot open.
- Padlocks could be easy for some people to try and break apart.
- A padlock could develop rust or wear after a while, making it harder for someone to open it without breaking it apart.
- Padlocks are vulnerable to damage from humidity and other environmental conditions. You’ll need to clean each padlock every few months.
2. Cam Lock
A cam lock is like a padlock, but it is integrated into the locker body. The design features a metal plate or cam that rotates when a compatible key is turned inside the body. The cam will rotate to unlock or lock the door. This lock option is flexible for use in many situations, including for lockers, desk drawers, file cabinets, and anything else with a slim profile.
I highly recommend the Admiral Tubular Cam Lock due to its strength and affordability, under $10 at the moment of writing. The key is also thick and durable and there are 9 different lock sizes to choose from based on your requirements.
- You can order new keys for cam locks as necessary.
- Since the cam lock is inside a locker, a person won’t lose the locking feature like one could with a padlock.
- The cam lock mechanism is easier to manage than what a padlock uses. The odds of the cam lock breaking apart or malfunctioning will be minimal.
- Cam locks are easy to install and small enough to fit most locker bodies.
- Someone could still break into a cam lock with a drill or other lock-picking materials.
- You will have to replace the cam lock altogether if you need to rekey the lock. Cam locks can work for years, but they could develop fatigue if used too often.
- Anyone who adds excess stress on the locker or any spot near the cam lock unit could break the lock.
3. Combination Lock
A combination lock requires the user to enter a specific combination to open. Most of these locks feature a rotary knob with a few numbers. The user will enter a suitable combination by rotating the knob to the correct position to open the lock.
Other combination locks feature a few separate numbers that someone can move to the right spots to open. There could be three or four knobs with all ten digits on each knob. The user will slide each of these knobs to their proper numbers to open the lock. A lock that includes more knobs with different numbers will be more secure, as it takes longer for someone to try and guess the combination at this point.
Combination locks are available in two forms. You can order a standalone lock that can be removed from a locker, similar to what a keyed padlock offers. You could also get an integrated combination lock that fits inside the locker door and is easier to track, as you know what locker the lock uses.
The Puroma combination lock (featured on the above image) is a highly popular lock with over 12 000 positive reviews on Amazon and 4 different colors to choose from. It has a fairly thick shackle, so it can’t be easily broken with a tool either.
- A combination lock also includes a key override feature that lets someone open the lock with a key if the combination feature isn’t working.
- Each combination lock features thousands of potential combinations, making it harder for someone to guess the right one.
- Some combination locks come with reset options that allow a user to change the code. This feature helps users create combinations they can remember, plus they can change these every few weeks or months for added security.
- It’s easy for people to forget their combinations after a while. Regular staff access may be necessary for cases where a person forgets a combination and doesn’t have access to the key override.
- Any place with combination locks will need to keep records on the combinations for each unit.
- You’ll need to ensure anyone who wishes to change a code on a combination lock receives permission first. You’ll require new information on the combination for security purposes.
- Some users could produce combinations that are too easy to predict. You’ll need to encourage locker users to generate distinct combinations that are more random or hard to predict.
4. Electronic Combination Lock
Today’s combination locks have evolved to where they can use digital combinations. Instead of rotating some knobs, a user can enter a number into a keypad. The user must enter the correct combination within enough time to open the door.
The rules for programming an electronic combination lock will vary by material. Some locks will require you to enter a few numbers in a specific order to open a diagnostic mode where you can change the combination as necessary. Others can link to a secure mobile app and read what combination you want to use.
An average lock will feature a battery that keeps it running, with the 9V option being the most common one. A battery will allow the lock to work for about 10,000 openings on average.
If this sounds like a good option but you don’t want to break the bank, consider the Cuglow Digital Combination Lock. It’s under $30 at the moment of writing. The thing I really appreciate about this lock is that if the battery needs to be replaced it starts buzzing. So there’s no chance of it unlocking unsuspectingly.
- You can produce whatever combinations you want with one of these locks. You could even let the people who access these lockers choose whatever specific combinations they want to use.
- Many of these locks feature sturdy keyless bodies that are hard for people to break apart. There should be a secure spot on the side of a lock that lets you open the lock if you need to replace a battery, although the method for opening the lock will vary by material.
- Some locks can accept several codes at once. The programming rules will vary by model.
- Some of these locks could stop working due to power failure. Someone would have to manually open the lock to fix the problem, usually by replacing the battery.
- You will need to keep details on what combinations link to each locker, as people could still forget their combinations.
- Many of these locks feature bulky bodies that take a while to program.
5. RFID Lock
A radio frequency identification or RFID lock like this one from Amazon uses a keyless function to open a locker. The RFID lock uses radio signals to identify a keyless entry material. It allows the user to open the locker when it identifies the correct signal.
An RFID reader on the locker will produce radio signals. An RFID tag or card will go over the reader, which will review the ID descriptor and determine if the locker should open. The locker will remain closed and locked if the RFID reader cannot identify the signal on the tag.
- Most RFID locks are touchless, meaning the user only has to wave the accompanying card or tag over the reader to open it. The user doesn’t have to insert a card or swipe anything inside a specific material to make this work.
- Each RFID reader can produce a specific signal, plus you can create new tags or cards that are compatible with those signals. You can create a vast assortment of signals for each locker, ensuring a card or tag can only open one locker in a room.
- RFID locks are ideal for locker rooms where humidity may be a concern. These include locker rooms in gyms and fitness centers.
- An average RFID reader will work for five to ten years before needing replacement.
- An RFID reader can handle hundreds of entries a day on average.
- Some RFID locks require a user to touch a button to wake up the lock before swiping or waving a tag or card. The feature is necessary for preventing the battery inside a lock from dying.
- You can install hardwired RFID locks that will not run on batteries that could die out fast, but the installation process for these locks can take a while. You’ll require a professional to help you with this option.
6. Coin Lock
A coin lock is for public lockers that multiple people will use during the day. A locker opens only when a person inserts a coin. The denomination of that coin will vary by lock model.
The user can open the coin lock by inserting a coin. The lock will remain open until the user closes the locker. The person can then insert a coin once more to reopen the lock when it’s time to get one’s items back from the locker.
Coin locks are ideal for places like transit stations, gyms, amusement parks, and other places where people need to store things during a visit.
- You can generate plenty of income from a coin lock, especially if you have many people visiting your business during the day.
- The inside mechanism of a coin lock works similarly to a cam lock in most situations.
- A coin lock can be programmed to accept tokens or any other special coins you want to use.
- The automatic design of the coin lock means you don’t need someone on hand to keep providing keys or other things that customers might lose or misplace.
- Someone will need to check the coin lock on occasion to clear the money out. The lock will not work if the coin feature is full.
- The coin lock will only work if the person who uses it has the proper coins. You might need to provide change for someone, whether from an employee on hand or a change machine.
- Some people who visit a spot may not trust one of these locks. They may feel you’re trying to take their money and refuse to use these lockers.
- Vandalism is a concern with these locks, as someone could break a lock and steal the coins.
7. Coin Return Lock
Some coin locks include a returning mechanism where the person’s coin will return after bringing back a key. The user will insert a coin or token into the lock and then receive a key that accompanies the material. The user can utilize that key to open and close the locker as necessary. The person will get one’s coin back after returning the key into the proper receptacle on the lock.
- There are no cash boxes necessary for these locks, so the risk of someone vandalizing the lock and stealing the coins inside is eliminated.
- You can order a master key that lets you open the lock if someone loses the key.
- The person will feel encouraged to return the key after using the locker, as doing so is the only way a person can get one’s money back.
- A user could potentially insert a coin or token in the locker and keep the key for a while, reducing your ability to generate income.
- Since many people will use the same key during the day, it’s possible for the key to break apart and wear. Some users could be rough on the locker, causing it to wear faster. An employee will need to help open the locker with a master key when something is wrong.
8. Fingerprint padlock
This fingerprint padlock from Amazon is very popular, and very convenient because it can register up to 15 different fingerprints. So if you plan on sharing a locker with some people, here’s a way to secure it without copying keys or dishing out multiple combination locks. In case of fingerprint mechanism malfunction, it can be unlocked through an app via Bluetooth connection and temporary passwords.
However, a smart lock requires a battery to function. The good side with this one is that it can be unlocked more than 2000 times and it can function for about 1 year of regular use before needing a quick recharge. Recharging itself is quite straightforward; use a USB cable and plug it into a power bank or charger.
- Fingerprint recognition is more secure because it can’t be lockpicked or cracked
- It can register multiple fingerprints, making it easy to share the lock and/or locker
- No longer have to worry about losing your key or waste time finding it in your pockets
- Requires a (rechargeable) battery to function
- Won’t break the bank, but it’s more expensive than a basic padlock
- The shackle is still the most vulnerable part, just like on an ordinary padlock
I hope you’ve found this list of lock types and recommendations useful! If you want to learn more about securing your locker possessions then check out my 7 gym locker theft prevention tactics.