Electronic vs. Mechanical Deadbolts – Which are better?

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The type of door locks you have installed in your home or business office will significantly influence the level of safety and convenience you can expect from using them. 

Often times, the saying “you get what you pay for” really does apply.

As such, choosing the right deadbolt lock for your door requires more than picking out the best deal on the shelf.

Before you go shopping, we recommend you take some time to consider your lifestyle and security needs to find the perfect fit for you. 

Electronic vs. Mechanical Deadbolts

When we say “lifestyle”, we mean just this – are you looking for a more modern look and feel to things?  Total convenience?  Or are you thinking more like hardcore security, whatever the cost, or level of inconvenience.

If you’r thinking more along the lines of convenience, these days this tends to mean that you’re probably on the lookout for something “smart”, as part of a smart home security system, and that means electronic. 

On the other hand, some people aren’t into the new school gadgets from the past 20 years, either because they don’t trust it for one reason or another, or because they don’t need it the added “convenience” that it offers, as this may or may not sacrifice a level of brawn that certain mechanical locks can offer.

All-Weather Mechanical Keyless Deadbolt Door Lock - Satin Nickel, #409

Really, if we are being honest, the demographic who want something modern, “smart”, and electronic can be and often actually are a very different crowd in terms of their fundamental mentality, from the people who are into the mechanical locks. 

For instance, locksmiths around the world, generally speaking, tend to rely more on mechanical deadbolts and lock / key type of situations, but that’s just because it’s a centuries-old profession which is mainly based on the reality of their business.  Locksmiths don’t deal with as many electronic gadgets, because they lack the parts of the mechanism which is at the heart of their business in some cases, such as keyways.

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We’ll get more into these things as we continue.  At any rate, to make it easier for you, we are about to cover a few pros and cons of mechanical and electronic locks.

Mechanical locks usually cost less (due to not being part of a larger smart home system into which it must be integrated), and are much easier to install in that regard.  In other words, you’re dealing with just the lock, and not how it relates to other things like your phone and the rest of your smart home.

That said, having a smart home security system isn’t seen as a security risk these days, if done properly.  Ideally, it takes care of many of the pesky inconveniences that old school locks possess (ie. losing your keys).

Mechanical deadbolts come in different designs and finishes and can add some elegance to your front door, still appearing modern but not in the “blinking light” sense, and, with the right brand and model, they can emanate tough-ness just from the look of them. Brand names like Assa Abloy, Schlage, and Medeco come to mind as a few examples of high quality mechanical deadbolts.

On the other hand, electronic locks are increasing in popularity with both homeowners and business owners due to their remarkable overall convenience and utility.

Electronic locks use push buttons or a keypad to enter a series of numbers to unlock the door, or can be operated by your smart phone in some cases.

Our today’s post is all about the differences between mechanical and electronic deadbolts, and what they mean to you as someone looking to secure your home or business.

We will discuss both types of locks, how they are used, and much more.

Here is exactly what we are going to cover today:

Let’s get into it.


Mechanical Deadbolt Pros


Mechanical deadbolts are more affordable

If money is what stands between you and a high-tech lock, then a mechanical deadbolt may be the best option for you.

You can find many different mechanical deadbolts that across different price points but don’t forget to take into consideration security grades before you buy. 

Again, you’re not strictly looking for the best deal, as you might get the worst lock on the planet. No shopping at Dollarama for deadbolts!

A cheaply made mechanical deadbolt could mean it’s more likely to wear down or get broken, causing you to spend more money on repairs and replacements. 

A well made mechanical deadbolt might mean you run into very few problems, as it simply is what it is, and is designed not to break for years and years.


Different style options

If you are looking for a specific lock style and finish for your home, then mechanical locks are the best option for you.

Electronic locks simply don’t offer as many style options as their mechanical counterparts.  This is because mechanical deadbolts have been around for centuries, and there are countless styles in circulation now, which is to be expected, considering the length of time that has passed since they were conceived, many centuries ago.

If you are not sure what you are looking for, you can use one of lock style selector tools available online to help you choose the perfect deadbolt and handle set for your home.


They are easy to install

Installing a mechanical deadbolt is a lot easier than installing an electronic lock.

Some world-famous brands such as Schlage even offer mechanical deadbolts equipped with Snap and Stay technology which lets you install the lock in a matter of minutes.

Of course, installation costs for mechanical locks are lower than for electronic locks.

Moving onto mechanical deadbolt cons…


Mechanical Deadbolt Cons


You can easily get locked out

How many times have you left your home only to realize that you left your keys inside?

With mechanical locks, re-entry into your home usually means calling a local locksmith to unlock your door or finding a creative way to breach your home without causing too much damage.

If you want to think of this as more of a positive, it just means you have to be more diligent, because once you lock yourself out, you are basically in the same position as a burglar. 

Not everyone wants to have to be that diligent, and hence the reason many people opt for electronic deadbolts, because there’s no key, and you can just your smart phone so you don’t even have to have a keypad.


Difficult to control access / key control issues

If you have a friend or a family member that you want to give access to your home when you are not around requires either hiding a spare key or creating an extra key they would keep with themselves.

The downside to this is that you cannot limit or control their access. If they have access to the door key, they can enter your home as many times as they please.

You are also running the risk of a potential intruder finding your spare key and entering your home. The last thing you want is to give an intruder an easy way in.

Read our article, “What is Key Control?” to learn more about this problem


You have to worry about keys

Keys can often become a drag, especially if you live an active lifestyle.

Taking your dog for a walk or going for a run is much less fun if you have to worry about losing your keys or finding a safe place to hide them until you return home.

Next, we talk about ANSI grading system…


ANSI Grading System

When shopping for a new lock, you may notice that each lock has a lock grade.

These grades come from the ANSI grading system. This grading system tells you the overall performance of the lock and helps you choose the right lock for your home.

There are three different lock grades, which include:

ANSI Grade 1 – These are heavy-duty commercial security locks. These locks are specifically designed for high traffic and superior security. Although they can be used in residential applications, they are mostly used in commercial and industrial applications.

ANSI Grade 2 – This is a high residential security or low commercial grade.  These locks are not expected to be as heavy-duty as Grade 1. These locks are designed to offer superior security and durability for homes and light commercial use.

ANSI Grade 3 – These are basic residential security locks which meet the lowest acceptable quality standards for locks by the ANSI. You’ll find these locks in apartment buildings; they meet most residential building requirements.

Next, we discuss electronic deadbolts. We will start with positive things…


Electronic Deadbolt Pros


Keys are a thing of the past

Electronic deadbolts let you say bye-bye to your annoying keys and enjoy much easier way to enter your home with a custom access code/PIN you create.

All of the annoying keys of mechanical locks can be kissed goodbye when you decide to go keyless.

Finally, you can take your dog for a walk or go for a run without having to think about losing your keys.

Most of the modern electronic deadbolts are also equipped with either an illuminated touchscreen or back-lit keypad that makes them incredibly easy to use in the dark.


You control everything

Giving your friends and family member access to your home is easy with an electronic deadbolt. All you have to do is create a unique PIN that can be disabled when they no longer need it.

Some high-tech locks such as Schlage Sense™ Smart deadbolt even allow you to set how many times your friends can use the PIN to access your home or at what time of day their PIN is valid.

This is very useful feature for a babysitter that may come to your home frequently but should be there only during certain times.


Easy to install

Don’t let the word „electronic“ make you think installing an electronic deadbolt is rocket science. Most electronic locks can be installed in a matter of minutes.

Usually there is no complicated wiring involved and there is no need for any specialized tools. Of course, if you still don’t trust your skills, you can call your local locksmith to help you out.

Moving onto negative sides…


Electronic Deadbolt Cons


They are more expensive

If money is a main concern for you, then mechanical locks may be the best option for you. Most electronic locks cost anywhere from $100 to $300 depending on the features and levels of security they offer.

Of course, you can save some money by choosing an electronic deadbolt that doesn’t have home automation capabilities.


Forgetting PIN or letting the battery die can lock you out

Forgetting your PIN or letting the lock battery die are the only two ways an electronic lock will lock you out.

You should choose a PIN that is both easy to remember and secure. If you have problems remembering your PIN, you can store it in a safe location; you can hide it within your phone or write it down somewhere you won’t lose it.

If your battery is running low, most electronic locks will issue a low battery warning well in advance so you will have plenty of time to replace the battery.

To avoid the risk altogether, we recommend changing your battery once every year.


Limited style options

Although many electronic locks come in sleek and elegant designs, you are often limited to just a couple of styles and finishes.

There are not nearly as many styles and finishes available when it comes to choosing electronic locks when compared to their mechanical counterparts.


Hackers / Electronic Malfunctions

website hackers

Although the chance of a hacker trying to break into your home is slim, it’s not really much slimmer than a burglar breaking into your home unexpectedly these days.

The problem here is that with an electronically operated “smart” deadbolt, a “hacker”, as in a computer hacker or just someone very fluent with computers, might be able to find a way to override your system.

Here’s a movie clip that makes light of the situation, and exaggerates is a fair bit (but also emphasizes the point).

Electronic deadbolts are designed not to be hacked, of course, but when we’re talking about things that are based on software…this is where old school locksmiths sometimes shake their head. 

They might say that you’re letting your entire home’s security rely on the app someone made that might not be all it claims to be.  If you’ve ever downloaded many apps, you probably know what we’re talking about.

Besides the fact that there could be a small chance that some computer whiz could tamper with things, there’s also the chance that your electronic deadbolt smart app might work incorrectly, which is a world of difference from a physical lock being broken into.  

On the other hand, most burglars are not Will Hunting, and they are more likely to be whacking on your door with a baseball bat then sitting in an unmarked van nearby trying to “hack” your system.  

Still, it’s worth considering that electronic deadbolts can be overcome in a more than one way, either by tampering with their electronics, or by the baseball bat method. 

You may want to ask the person you’re buying the electronic lock from if a burglar can simply throw their coffee on it and short circuit it, and walk right in. 

It’s unlikely, but people have run into problems from inane things such as this through history, so we wouldn’t be surprised.

Conclusion

We hope this discussion around electronic vs. mechanical deadbolts helps you somewhat in your quest to find the best protection for your home.

At the end of the day, that’s what matters, and so this debate is something you should probably consider, sleep on, talk to friends and family about, read different articles on the internet, what have you. 

We trust you’ll get what you’re after.  Please leave us a message here if you have any questions.

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