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Buying Guide for Keyless Electronic Door Locks

Kiely Kuligowski
Kiely Kuligowski
Staff Writer

Learn about electronic door locks and how to choose the best one for your business.

  • There are several different types of keyless electronic door locks, including those that have keypads, fobs or key cards and biometric locks.
  • Integrations for keyless electronic door locks include surveillance security and smart devices.
  • High-quality keyless electronic door locks cost between $125 and $299.
  • This article is for small business owners seeking an alternative to issuing keys so employees can enter and exit the workplace.

At least one of your employees is bound to lose their key at some point during their employment, and keys – whether they're a traditional metal key or a nifty fob – can be costly and cumbersome to replace.

Keyless electronic door locks can make your life as a business owner easier by eliminating the need for physical keys. Besides increasing security, they save you time and money – you no longer need to get a new key made when an employee loses one or change the locks when a staff member leaves the company. Instead, you change their code directly from your management system.

You have many options when it comes to keyless electronic door locks, so you can choose the one that is right for your business. Read on for details about the various types of keyless electronic door locks and their features, pricing information, and more.

 

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How do keyless door locks work?

Just like a regular lock and key mechanism, keyless door locks open and close entryways throughout your facility. The only difference is that there is no physical key inserted into a lock. Depending on the keyless door lock model you go with, employees will punch in a code, present a key fob or keycard, or use biometrics, like a thumbprint or their face, to unlock the door. The lock typically remains unlocked for a few seconds after it's opened and relocks automatically when the door shuts.

Key takeaway: Keyless door locks use a punch code, biometrics, fob or other device to open and close entryways.

Benefits of keyless door locks

Below are four benefits businesses gain when switching to keyless door locks.

  • Convenience: Allowing a new team member into the building can be as simple as generating a code or entering their information into the system. You no longer have to make a key or changing the locks when a staff member leaves. You also won't have to worry about having a designated person to open and close your facility each day.

  • Security: Keyless door locks provide greater control over who is allowed access to certain parts of your building, whether that's the front door or restricted areas throughout the office. They can also provide insight into who is entering and exiting the building.

  • Integration with access control: You can program keyless door locks to only let certain employees in or out during specific times of the day, such as during your regular business hours.

  • Longer lasting: All of that turning and metal on metal wears down regular door locks. Keyless door locks don't undergo the same level of wear and tear.

Key takeaway: Keyless door locks provide tremendous access control and security benefits for your business while offering a convenient way for your team members to come and go.

Types of keyless electronic door locks

Every business is unique, which means that the type of lock you choose will depend on your business's needs and each lock's capabilities.

Many locks, regardless of its type, offer multiple keyless ways to unlock the door in the event of a lost key or forgotten code.

Keypad/combination locks

A keypad/combination lock model requires a PIN to unlock the door. They are very easy to install and maintain, and you can assign different codes to different users. You can change the PIN at any time, allowing you to easily manage access to your building.

Some models have protective mechanisms such as keypads that shut down after an incorrect code has been entered three times. Most newer models have a touch screen, but some have physical buttons. There are also combination keypad locks, which use a PIN in conjunction with another type of lock, such as deadbolts or handles.

Keyless/wireless smart locks

Keyless and wireless smart locks are popular options, too. They allow you to connect to your locks over a Wi-Fi connection so you can control your locks from anywhere in the world via a mobile app or remote. However, unless you purchase your locks as part of a smart home package, they may not come with a dedicated mobile app.

Many smart locks offer Bluetooth capability, which can automatically unlock your doors once you get within a certain distance. You may also be able to use your phone or a key fob and tap the sensor to unlock the door.

Key fobs/cards

Key fobs or keycards are a way to unlock your Bluetooth or radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled smart lock. You simply tap the fob or card against the lock sensor to disarm it. Key fobs and cards can be programmed to unlock multiple locks, so, for example, your one key fob can let you into the front, side, and doors of your building. 

Biometric locks

Biometric locks are a popular, up-and-coming electronic door lock option. You can unlock a door by having your fingerprint or (less commonly) your eye scanned. This is a very secure option, since fingerprints are all unique and are very difficult to forge. It's also a convenient option for individuals who don't have to carry a key fob with them, which means they always have access.

Biometric door locks work by scanning a fingerprint and converting it into a numerical template, which then tells the system to unlock the door. Because this system is so dependent on connectivity, look for a model with a backup option like a keypad or mechanical lock so you can still gain entry if your fingerprint cannot be scanned.

Many models have a limit of 100 fingerprints that can be stored, so if your company is larger, a biometric lock may not be the best option for you.

Key takeaway: Keyless door locks are available in fob or keycard forms, keypads with PIN access, wireless "smart locks," and biometrics that use a fingerprint or retinal scan to open the door.

How to choose an electronic keyless door lock

When choosing a keyless lock, the first thing to determine is which type of lock suits your business best. A keypad lock often works well if you don't want to give people physical keys, fobs or access cards.

You must consider how many codes you will need; many models are limited by the number of codes they can support. You also need to decide if you need a dedicated mobile app that allows you to lock or unlock your doors, receive mobile alerts, or control your locks remotely.

The next step is to determine which features are must-haves and which features you can do without. Last, what type of credentials do you want – key fobs, a smartphone app, keycards or something else?

Low-battery indicator

No matter which type of keyless door lock you choose, look for one that has a low-battery indicator that alerts you when the battery needs to be replaced. Some models have an indicator light that appears, whereas with other locks, it might have a slower response time or require multiple attempts to open the door. This is an important feature because it will help you avoid being locked out due to a dead battery.

Integrations

Consider which integrations you'll need. Many people like to have their door locks integrated with Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT (If This, Then That), Wink or SmartThings, but not all locks can do that. Also consider whether you need the lock to be integrated with a security system and/or connected to video surveillance systems, cameras, alarms, and more.

Durability

Durability is key. Because the lock will likely be outside, it's susceptible to weather extremes and vandalism. Check whether the lock is waterproof, coldproof, heat resistant, etc., and if there is any type of guarantee against damage caused by vandalism.

Pricing

The price of a keyless electronic door lock depends on functionality, features, installation, connectivity and required equipment, as well as how many locks you will need. Based on the 20 models we examined, quality models range in cost from $125 up to $299.

Key takeaway: As you evaluate your keyless door lock options, you should take price, battery life, durability and integrations with other programs your company uses into account.

Keyless electronic door lock FAQs

How secure are keyless door locks?

You may assume that the high-tech nature of a keyless electronic door lock makes it more secure, but that's not always the case. A keyless door lock is no more effective than a regular lock and key – just more convenient.

What do I do if the battery dies?

We recommend a lock that has a low-battery warning. If, however, the batteries die, review the manual to see how you can override the lock.

Can keyless door locks be hacked?

Like any device that can be connected to the internet, a keyless door lock may be hacked. However, following recommended safety protocol minimizes the chances such an incident occurs. For example, don't use simple passwords, and never distribute them in plain text such as an email, where they can be intercepted by bad actors.

Will the lock stop working when the power goes out?

No, electronic locks continue to work because they run on batteries. However, look for a model that comes with an analog backup method (like a deadbolt or a traditional key) so you have an alternate way to get into the building.

How technical are electronic door locks to install?

While what may be considered technical to one person may not be for another, manufacturers have worked hard to ensure installation is as simple as possible. Some companies offer step-by-step instructions with photos or video tutorials.

Does the lock need to be wired?

Any keyless door lock that is battery operated does not need to be wired. In fact, of the models we looked at, none of them needed to be hardwired. Wireless options have become popular due to their ease of installation and maintenance, and most providers offer a wireless option.

It's always best to speak with an expert and read reviews before making your decision.

Image Credit: baloon111/Getty Images
Kiely Kuligowski
Kiely Kuligowski
Business News Daily Staff
See Kiely Kuligowski's Profile
Kiely Kuligowski is a business.com and Business News Daily writer and has written more than 200 B2B-related articles on topics designed to help small businesses market and grow their companies. Kiely spent hundreds of hours researching, analyzing and writing about the best marketing services for small businesses, including email marketing and text message marketing software. Additionally, Kiely writes on topics that help small business owners and entrepreneurs boost their social media engagement on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.